Democrats nominate Rodgerson to challenge Lavielle in 143rd

Democrat Keith Rodgerson will run against incumbent Gail Lavielle for the 143rd District seat in the state legislature.(Photo from friendsofkeithrodgerson.org/about)
Democrat Keith Rodgerson will run against incumbent Gail Lavielle for the 143rd District seat in the state legislature.(Photo from friendsofkeithrodgerson.org/about)

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.



24 responses to “Democrats nominate Rodgerson to challenge Lavielle in 143rd”

  1. Peter Torrano

    How unfortunate that the Democrats in Wilton have chosen to use Bridgeport style politics to attempt to remove one of the most productive, constituent serving members of the house. This thinly veiled attempt to make it seem that Gail Lavielle is anything but caring of the Wilton, Norwalk and Westport communities is, to be polite, pathetic. Gail is way ahead of the curve, doing all the things that the new resident of Wilton, and now challenger to her is advocating. Imagine, if her challenger is able to do for Wilton, Westport and Norwalk what he was able to accomplish for Bridgeport, what kind of shape would we be in?

  2. Oyster

    Sounds like exactly the type of experience we need to get the region’s sluggish business development going again. Bravo Keith.

  3. Jesse Stone

    Gail won her first election by 8 points. You can see that here: http://norwalk.dailyvoice.com/news/lavielle-upsets-reeves-143rd

    Gail has always represented the people of Wilton in the face of a never ending tide of Malloy imposed regulations and taxes. She is a gem.

  4. Eric Fullerman

    Did he move to Wilton just to run for this office? He was under consideration for appointment to the Bridegeport Council as recently as 2 years ago…

    If the D’s in Wilton are this desperate that they need to import hired guns, maybe they should save their resources and cross nominate Gail.

  5. Oyster

    It didn’t take long for people to start flinging accusations at a man they’ve clearly never met. “bridgeport style politics”? “hired gun”? Rodgerson has been thoughtful about what representation means for the people in the district.

    The unspoken word here is ALEC. The concerns of ALEC are not local and not representative of the local issues in Wilton and Norwalk. The voters will have their say about whether they want to be represented by someone whose concerns are rooted in improving the region or not.

  6. EveT

    Lavielle has shown herself to be an expert at messaging, which will make her hard to beat. Most voters don’t have the time to look beneath the surface and evaluate what she really does (and doesn’t do) in Hartford. They read her constituent emails and form their opinions accordingly.

  7. Delores O

    So, Oyster, you are either Mr. Rodgerson or more likely one of the Party Leaders in Wilton. Let’s get that out there.

    I say this, because no one else knows what ALEC is, because no one in Connecticut is a member, and it is the first accusation made to make any Republican seem like a looney without using the words “Tea Party”.

    Every topic touched on by Gail, a long time resident and involved citizen of Wilton, who is widely regarded as the most in touch and concerned rep for Norwalk, even by Democrats, is for the betterment of this area. Yet, every two years, one or two party goons try to make this an issue. That is how weak the candidates for the Wilton D party are.

    Gail communicates and stands up for her constituents, and we are lucky to have her representing Cranbury and beyond.

  8. Oyster

    @Delores O,
    I am neither Rodgerson, nor am I a Wilton party leader. Nice try though.

    To be clear, you are asserting that nobody else in Norwalk or Wilton knows what ALEC is, yet you seem to. Being defensive about ALEC and suggesting that it is an “accusation” made by “party goons” speaks volumes. Nobody suggested that anybody was a “looney”.

    You also assert that you speak for Democrats in Norwalk, so does that make you party leadership in Norwalk? Just curious.

  9. Milton

    No one has worked harder for his/her district than Representative Gail Lavielle. She works tirelessly for all of the people she represents as well as the State of CT.

    KR mentions having a “seat at the table” and then the article goes on to talk about a bipartisan and “independent” approach? Well which is it? I assume the table he is talking about is the Democratic super majority table in Hartford? Is he suggesting that Republicans do not or should not have a seat at that table? How is that bipartisinship? Independent? Will KR have a “seat at the table” and not vote lock step with the Demoratic leadership every time? I doubt it.

    This state is in real trouble and we cannot tax our way out of it. Gail has understood this from the beginning and most importantly has LISTENED to all of the people she represents.

    Gail Lavielle will continue to have my support

  10. Milton

    Also – Anyone who would question “who Rep. Lavielle is advocating for up in Hartford” is either seriously misinformed or just drawing from the same old politial playbook. In Mr. Dec’s case it just may be both.

  11. Peter Parker

    Looks like the voters of that district have a choice to make.

    Its very presumptuous to think few are aware of the ALEC. Many people are know what it does, and its precociously why so many would like to see it dismantled. Things as they are, it will most likely be around for some time, they have the money, power, and a pocket full of politicians. Very sad.

  12. Mary Webb

    I don’t care if you talk about ALEC, as I don’t know anything about it, nor do I care to, because it doesn’t have anything to do with Gail.

    She represents Norwalk and has always tried to get us a fair shake on money from Hartford. She stood wth Bob Duff and Larry and well, look for yourself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLTMKqCyO5U

  13. 4Norwalk

    Wow. Saying something doesn’t make it so, but clearly those who chose to do harm with the written word seem to think so – and count on it. You see, it’s not always about politics. Politics is a game. But public service is real – and people who vote try very hard to vote for someone who is real. Gail’s constituents know this. They cross party lines and reach out to her because she stands for real solutions and addresses real issues. Some elected representatives do actually serve the public good, rather than just the party platform. Gail Lavielle is most definitely one such representative. A few facts to correct the record:

    1. Gail won her election against an incumbent 53+ – 46+% in 2010. That’s about 6-7% – and in her first election! Well done – I would say. Someone needs to check their math and the Secretary of State’s website where it is all documented.

    2. I did contact Gail about ALEC – she’s not a member. That’s the thing about Gail – she is actually approachable – and answers our phone calls, emails, and inquiries of all kinds swiftly and thoughtfully. She invites it. Please stop the fiction folks!

    3. She keeps her constituents constantly informed – with facts about legislative action – and constantly queries ALL of her district, not just those who vote for her, about how they want their government to work. I thought keeping voters informed was a good thing but I guess there is no pleasing some people. She listens to everyone and will continue to do this.

    I think there are bigger issues at hand than attacking one very hard working legislator with falsehoods and political noise. We voters – all of us – need to get Connecticut out of the taxed to the hilt, GDP dragging at the bottom, no new jobs coming, residents fleeing to other states mess we are in. But we all need to take responsibility for it – after all – we own the government we have. We all know Einstein’s definition of insanity – repeating the same action over and over expecting a different result. A change in the balance of power in Hartford moving to a more fiscally conservative course – putting Connecticut on solid financial footing – is vitally needed. When the big issues get fixed – the rest can be addressed responsibly, too. It’s doing the big things first, the hard things that need doing now. Gail Lavielle is already leading that charge.

    Mr. Rodgerson, as a newcomer to the 143rd, is welcome to challenge Representative Lavielle. But he doesn’t know the people of the 143rd like Gail does. She will win in November. And she will do it with the truth.

  14. Olga Arteaga

    My goodness! I can’t believe that after all Gail has done for my city of Norwalk, Wilton, Westport, and actually for all the residents of the state, that a person who may be newest resident in our area, thinks he has the answers. I think he will just be a part of the problem. He will go along with the Democrats, raise our taxes and frighten business. He will bring the same destructive Bridgeport politics here. My husband and I owned a small business until his passing, and I can tell you first hand how tough it is to make it in this state. The Democrats have destroyed all incentive for peoplel like us. Gail does the opposite. I know Gail and I know that she cares about me, my family and the people around here, not just Republicans. That’s why she has such a great support from all voters.

  15. John C. Romano

    I was ready to wage a battle after reading some of the comments by Mr. Rodgerson. But as I read the blog Gail has already gotten much support from the many who continue to cherish her relationship with the voters.
    Gail is all the good things said by others. My sense of Rodgerson is that he is an ACORN type community activist who will alwys be on the side of the Present (hopefully short lived) administration and the majority in Hartford who has fostered our “last” position in everything worth while State by State, he proves that by refering to the Great State of TEXAS whio is just the opposite of Ct. leading in most economic areas.
    His Harard degree might have impressed and allowed his political career to florish in Bpt. But he should not under the estimate the intellegence of the Voters of the 143 rd.

  16. EveT

    Apparently the ALEC question has not really been cleared up. The Center for Media and Democracy still has Gail Lavielle listed on the ALEC education task force. They told a caller last June that they would remove her name if they received proof that she is not affiliated with ALEC.

    1. Mark Chapman


      We have a pdf of a letter to Gail Lavielle from Laura Buckley, manager of corporate and nonprofit relations for ALEC, that says: I have looked you up in our database and you are not listed as an ALEC member or as a member of the education task force.

      The letter is dated May 29, 2014

  17. Milton

    Wow! Apparently if some extreme left organization has you listed as an evil conservative and you do not waste your time proving your innocence then you must be guilty. Is this really the campaign that the Democrats will be running?

    If you would like to learn more about source watch check this link out.


  18. Piberman

    Mr Torrano is certainly on message here. Lets work hard to make sure Rep Lavielle earns an even larger margin of victory against a last minute Democrat candidate newly arrived from fabulous Bridgeport. That local Democrats couldn’t field a stronger candidate speaks volumes about the demonstrated capabilities of the incumbent. For many of us Ms Lavielle is truly Norwalk’s most outstanding Legislator in Hartford. And sets an example of a true public servant. Would that Norwalk have more such competent and well respected public officials.

  19. Desiree Soli

    Here in Westport we have had a decrease in the mill rate for the first time since I can remember. We elected a republican to be our First Selectman and won the majority on the Board of Finance for the first time in 16 years. We have tax relief locally and thank goodness with the tax and spending that is going on in Hartford with the Democrat controlled house and senate. Time to make a change and start electing more republicans up north. Gail is a terrific representative and we need more just like her to stop the madness in Hartford.

  20. Donald J

    When did ‘Professor’ Lavielle quit ALEC and how did she vote on their education task force? Whatever happened to NON’s “pulling the curtain back”…especially with the political
    class? it took me 5 minutes to find on the internet a .pdf from ALEC stating she was a member. This is well after she was a Wal Mart Executive funding ALEC’s 2005 “Stand your Ground” initiative to boost gun sales. She was, without question, a member of the very committee that manipulated the roll out of Common Core in our legislatures across the US:


  21. piberman

    Judging from comments NON readers are certainly focusing in on the state’s major spending and taxation issues surrounding the new Democratic last minute candidate. Another automatic vote in Hartford for the Democratic super-majority in the Legislature can’t possibly improve the economic circumstances of the Norwalk community. That’s the real issue here – support for fiscal responsibility or automatic vote for Democratic demonstrated fiscal shannigans.

  22. Milton

    There is an old saying, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance baffle them with BS.

    It would seem that the best BS the KR campaign team can come up with is a conference that Gail Lavielle attended and the fact that she at one point worked for a large and evil corporation.

    I don’t envy the KR team and in fact I sort of feel bad for them. If I had to put up a candidate to go up against someone as respected and well liked (regardless of political affiliation)as Gail Lavielle I would be scratching my head for something to attack her on as well.

  23. Thomas P

    If I didnt consider politics to be at an important turning point in our country’s history, I would say that Mr Rodgersons insubstancial effort to provide us an alternative to Representative Lavielle is a comedy fit for reality television. Representative Lavielle,hopefully we have all noticed , may be the hardest working person in Connecticut politics. She has served Wilton and the adjoining juristictions with the greatest insight and vision with the depest senseof honor. A lovely person inside and out. Honestly,why is a Bridgeport resident here in Wilton, unless it is to politically slander this great woman of our time. Just my opinion.

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