Democratic Town Chairman Richard Smith wasn't sure how long it had been since the Milford Democrats last held an awards dinner. He did remember, though, that he had won Young Democrat of the Year. The crowd laughed.
"I don't know why that's funny," he said into the microphone, smiling.
(l-r) Vito Casignoli, Richard Smith, Robert Berchem, and Michael Smith
The event at Aldario's marked a return to tradition for Milford's Democratic Party, and the well-attended dinner drew its share of powerful Democrats. State Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo made an appearance, and former Speaker of the House, Milford resident, and gubernatorial candidate Jim Amann was the master of ceremonies for the night. Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, and Mark Ojakian, Deputy Comptroller of the State of Connecticut (representing Nancy Wyman) were also in attendance.
State Representatives Paul Davis, Richard Roy, and Barbara Lambert were joined by State Senator Gayle Slossberg to present official citations to the award winners. Democratic Mayoral candidate Genevieve Salvatore was also in attendance and received a warm reception. Music was provided by Alderman Bob Nunno, bandleader at West Shore Middle School, and his brother, bassist Mike Nunno.
Michael Smith, a local party activist who recently battled non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, was honored as the Young Democrat of the Year. Michael, diagnosed one year ago, is now cancer-free and planning to bike almost 300 miles to raise money for cancer research.
"Although we're calling it the Young Democrat award," Rich Smith said from the podium, "we had it engraved as a ‘Profile in Courage' award, because that's really what it is."
Vito Castignoli, longtime treasurer to Milford Democratic campaigns, was honored with a Lifetime Contribution Award. A tireless volunteer who never sought recognition for his work, it seemed an appropriate honor.
"The reward for a job well done is that you get to keep doing it." Castignoli said. "I hope I get to keep doing it for another twenty-seven years."
Finally, Attorney Robert Berchem was honored as the Democrat of the Year. Calling him a "Democrat's Democrat," Sen. Slossberg helped present the award. "If you're a Milford Democrat, there are certain people you have to go meet, that you have to go talk to. Bob Berchem is at the top of that list."
Rich Smith called the dinner a "success" and said he looked forward to doing it again next year.
Original Story Posted HERE