Correction: In 2010, Gail Lavielle’s margin of victory was close to seven points, not the two points reported in the Rodgerson campaign press release. The totals were 4,783 to 4,140 for Lavielle.
WILTON, Conn. – Economic development professional and Wilton resident Keith Rodgerson was unanimously endorsed to run as the Democratic challenger in the 143rd state assembly district at a convention held Tuesday at Wilton Town Hall. The swing district includes voters in portions of Wilton, Norwalk, and Westport and is considered a key race this fall.
Rodgerson will challenge two-term incumbent Republican Gail Lavielle, who earned the unanimous backing the district’s GOP to make another run.
Rodgerson, who graduated from Joel Barlow High School and Harvard University summa cum laude, comes to the race after a long career in economic planning and development, according to a campaign press release, and currently works in Bridgeport as the executive director of the Neighborhood District Economic Development Corporation (NDEDC), which according to his website, “is a not-for-profit developer of vibrant business districts and provider of technical assistance to small business districts adversely impacted by sprawl, vacancy, big box development, and the loss of historic neighborhood assets.”
Before moving to Wilton, he was a two-term Bridgeport City Councilman.
Rodgerson addressed the convention to thank delegates for their support and to preview the upcoming campaign.
“I am running because I believe we can do better. We can do more to make our area affordable for our families and seniors. We can do more to support our local businesses, protect them from big box development, and create an environment where they can thrive. And we can do more to support our children and public education, from pre-K to college. I believe we can achieve progress, but we need to have a representative with a seat at the table and the experience and pragmatic nature to get there,” he said.
Rodgerson, who plans to make economic growth and bipartisanship important themes of his campaign, applauded Gov. Dannel Malloy’s efforts working with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and labor leaders on tax reform and tax policies that will further stimulate economic activity.
“Southern Fairfield County is very competitive and expanding,” he said, “but we must not lose sight of how fragile things can be, especially with a vocal minority in Hartford who continually want to implement lobbyist-authored policies from Texas and afar that will only stunt the very growth they claim to support.”
Charlie Lewis, longtime Wilton resident and winner of the DTC 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, nominated Rodgerson.
“Keith brings a real world perspective that we need in Hartford,” he said. “As a lifelong Connecticut resident, parent of a young child, business proponent, and active citizen, he understands the complexities of today’s society and has the experience to help lead us through it. Most importantly, he has the integrity we all want and deserve in a representative, and I know that he will put the interests of the people above all.”
Convention Chairman and Wilton DTC Chair Thomas Dec took a moment to thank Rodgerson for mounting a vigorous campaign in which he hopes Rodgerson will shed light on Lavielle’s record.
“There are a lot of questions about who Rep. Lavielle is advocating for up in Hartford,” Dec said. “On key issues ranging from consumer protection to the budget to education, Rep. Lavielle has not been serving the interests of her constituents, but partisan and special interests instead. We need a voice more in tune with the needs of all of the residents of the 143rd district and one who will take a thoughtful, independent approach. Keith is that voice.”
Lavielle unseated Democratic Registrar of Voters Peggy Reeves by nearly a seven-point margin in 2010, with 53.6 percent of the vote. In her first run as an incumbent, she beat Democrat Ted Hoffstatter with 58 percent of the vote.
Rodgerson closed with a statement regarding the lack of productivity in Hartford.
“We must do more than ‘work diligently’ and ‘fight,’ he said. “We must perform the hard, anonymous work that leads to a regular allocation of resources and the passage of meaningful, representative legislation.”
Rodgerson lives in Wilton with his wife Maryli and three-year old son Jasper.