Updated, 3:35 p.m.: Videos added.
NORWALK, Conn. — Two Democrats and a Republican won endorsements Monday to run as State legislature candidates, to represent Norwalk and parts of surrounding towns.
Norwalk Democrats invited the press to their caucuses, where State Rep. Lucy Dathan (D-142) was unopposed in her bid for reelection and Stephanie Thomas won endorsement to run for State Representative in the 143rd District, also without opposition. A press release announced that Elisavet “Ellie” Kousidis “clinched” the Republican endorsement to run for State Senate in the 25th District.
- Kousidis is seeking to unseat State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25).
- Dathan is looking to hold onto the seat she won in 2018, an upset victory over incumbent Republican Fred Wilms. Wilms is seeking to get the seat back. He does not appear to have competition for the Republican endorsement.
- Thomas faces Republican hopeful Patrizia Zucaro, who has incumbent State Rep. Gail Lavielle’s support. Lavielle has held the seat for nearly a decade and is not running for reelection.
Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Carl Dickens did not reply to an evening email asking when the Committee would be holding its nominating caucuses and conventions.
Kousidis, a “longtime resident of Norwalk and an award-winning urban educator,” won a “sound victory” at Monday’s caucus for the Connecticut 25th Senate District race, a seat that represents Norwalk and Darien, a press release said.
It did not say if Kousidis had competition. She is quoted as thanking Republicans for their support.
“I am a proud first generation American, who has lived in Norwalk for over 20 years,” Kousidis is quoted as saying. “My family and I are honored by your support and I pledge to run a campaign that is laser-focused on building a brighter future that increases opportunities in our state by driving down taxes for small businesses and residents alike, as well as shrinking the size and scope of state government.”
Duff, a lifelong Norwalker, has held the seat since 2005 after serving two years as a State Representative. He has been active in politics since 1994.
Kousidis is a political newcomer who recently switched from being unaffiliated to being Republican. She teaches for Stamford Public Schools.
She is quoted as saying:
“As a wife, mother, small business owner and award winning educator, I understand the daily struggles that face residents. I firmly believe that the misguided and overreaching policies being handed down from Hartford’s leadership aren’t encompassing the right approach to help us tackle these pressing issues.
“Specifically, I aim to establish pro-growth economic policies that will bring jobs back to our state. I’ll also work with my colleagues to create a climate where small businesses can thrive. Not last or least, I promise to promote local control of our schools and stop the unwelcome and unwise plans for forced school regionalization.
“I am energized and grateful for our success tonight, and I look forward to continuing to work hard on behalf of the residents of Norwalk and Darien through the election and beyond.”
Dathan, a New Canaan resident, won the District 142 seat from Wilms, a Norwalker who has served in various City government positions, with 54.5 percent of the vote. It has historically been a Republican district.
Dathan has been a “stellar” representative who communicates well with her constituents, as a “diligent and committed leader,” Lauren Gray said in nominating Dathan for reelection.
“Now more than ever, we really need real leaders to identify solutions for Norwalk, for Connecticut, and for our country and someone who looks for our future,” Gray said.
“Lucy has done a wonderful job representing our needs and the needs of all the people in Norwalk and New Canaan,” Pat Marshock said. “She is a tireless worker and campaigner. And she listens to people and she communicates just a lot. She’s really, really good communicator.”
“I’m over the moon to receive this nomination again,” Dathan said. “I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed being your state representative over the last two years, it has been absolutely wonderful. I just feel so honored to be given the, the confidence from you to be able to do this again.”
Despite the abrupt end to the legislative session brought on by the pandemic, “I feel like we have really moved forward some extremely important things,” Dathan said, listing health care as “key,” and support for families, small businesses and the environment.
“I’m very focused in, as you will hear me talking a lot about fiscal issues,” Dathan said. “And we all know what sort of challenges our state has and our whole country has after this crisis, and I am really excited to be able to bring my 25 plus years of finance experience up to Hartford to help our state work through the challenges that face us ahead.”
Thomas scored 48.45 percent of the vote two years ago in unsuccessfully attempting to unseat Lavielle. She was a last-minute candidate, collecting enough signatures in June 2018 to get onto the ballot as an endorsed Democrat.
District 143, traditionally Republican, is comprised of parts of Wilton and Norwalk, as well as a Westport sliver. In 2018, 11,827 votes were cast in the district; of those, 4,929 were cast in Norwalk, or 41.7 percent, and 5,838 were cast in Wilton, or 49.4 percent.
This is the only open seat in the local election. Zucaro is an attorney who lives in Westport, a newcomer to politics. Thomas is founder and president of Stetwin Consulting, which specializes in fundraising and event planning for non-profit organizations. She’s a Democratic Town Committee member and serves on the Norwalk Zoning Commission.
Victoria Rossi, a Wilton resident, nominated Thomas for this year’s endorsement.
“It is rare that you meet a candidate as special as Stephanie Thomas,” Rossi said. She met Thomas two years ago and, “Instantly I felt her passion and her desire to make a difference and her genuine concern for others.”
Rossi continued, “I knocked on a lot of doors in search of signatures so she could petition to be on the ballot. We had four days to get 250 signatures. We made it. Stephanie came to the race late but made up for time loss with a relentless energy to meet and talk to as many people as she could. Stephanie knocked on 4000 doors – unprecedented. She attended every coffee, rally and even made it to Wilton’s hazardous waste day, a must for anyone running as a candidate in Wilton.”
Thomas “can talk to a Trump supporter as well as a Democrat and independent with ease,” Rossi said, describing Thomas as a small businesswoman who “has the skills to manage expectations and set realistic goals,” with a master’s degree in nonprofit management and experience providing a “skill set to be a leader in Connecticut.”
“She has strong moral values, has devoted her life to helping others in her nonprofit work,” Rossi said.
Jennifer Balliet, a Norwalk resident, seconded the nomination.
“She’s open minded, incredibly smart, trustworthy, and patient,” Balliet said. “We need her in office.”
Much has changed since she filed papers to run for the seat, Thomas said.
“I don’t think 2020 has been the year that anyone thought. And although a lot has changed, what hasn’t changed is that … government itself plays a pivotal role in our lives,” Thomas said. “…I happen to think that Democrats offer the approach and the solution that we need to help us recover and to also help us move forward and I share those democratic values down to my core.”
The legislature will undoubtedly “have a lot of challenges coming up as we negotiate decreased revenues and try to figure out how to meet the budget cuts that we know are coming. But if we don’t invest in our people, we will not thrive moving forward,” Thomas said.
“What we are seeing now, in addition to COVID, is what happens when you have too many policies that fail. We understand now that affordable and accessible health care is a necessity for everyone,” she said.
It’s not just doctor’s visits for physical health, but the pandemic is affecting the mental health of many people, she said.
“And even though this crisis looms large, we can’t lose sight of other important issues,” listing climate change, education, voting access and gun safety as issues.
“Given our lost legislative session, we’ll need a strong proactive democratic assembly next year to tackle all of these issues and all the other important initiatives that also can’t wait,” Thomas said. “So I hope to be at that table in 2021, to fight for our shared values. And I know that with the help of all of you and the Democratic Party, we can flip this district from red to blue.”