Updated March 29 confirming Wilms’ run.
NORWALK, Conn. – Let the games – or the speculation – begin.
Just over 24 hours after Norwalk’s Larry Cafero (R-142) announced he would not run for a 12th term in the state House of Representatives, Norwalk Zoning Commission Vice Chairman Emily Wilson announced Wednesday that she will seek the Republican nomination as its candidate for state representative in the 142nd District.
Cafero, the state House Minority Leader, announced Tuesday night he will be retiring from the state legislature in November after 22 years of service.
“Rep. Cafero represents his constituents in Norwalk and New Canaan with passion and integrity,” Wilson said in an emailed statement announcing her candidacy. “My goal is to adhere to Larry’s common-sense approach to state government and to create a clearly defined pathway for families and businesses to succeed in this state.”
But Wilson, who lists fellow Zoning Commission member Linda Kruk as her committee treasurer, might have some competition, and not just from announced Democratic candidate Andy Garfunkel.
Fred Wilms, former chairman of Norwalk’s Board of Estimate and Taxation and current recording secretary of the Norwalk Republican Town Committee, has been eyeing the position as well, and formed an exploratory committee Feb. 10, 17 days before Wilson filed her exploratory committee papers.
Less than 24 hours later, Wilms announced to The Hour that he is running for the seat.
“It’s a friendly competition, there’s nothing nasty about it,” said Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Peter Torrano.
Torrano said there are six delegates — five from Norwalk and one from New Canaan — who will caucus with the hope of endorsing a candidate for the November election.
When Wilms, who has been rumored to be in the mix for an eventual run for mayor, formed his exploratory committee, he did not specify the office – he checked the box for Offices Include Statewide Office & General Assembly, but not state treasurer. That filing allows a candidate to choose an office at any level. Wilson filed strictly for General Assembly but under the committee name “Emily Wilson for State Representative.”
Torrano said that while Wilms, indeed, was interested in replacing Cafero, “That’s not to say Fred wouldn’t run for a different seat.”
That other seat could be the one belonging to state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) who currently has no challenger in either party. That is expected to change soon.
Torrano acknowledged that Duff is popular and will be a formidable challenge for whoever steps up to run.
Wilms was promoted last year to senior vice president for Webster Bank. Norwalk Parking Authority head Bryan Meek is listed as treasurer of Wilms’ exploratory committee.
In addition to Wilson’s tenure on the Zoning Commission, the 17-year resident of Norwalk has served on the city’s Conservation Commission and is also president of the Norwalk Senior Center. A graduate of St. John’s University School of Law, Wilson is a practicing attorney who specializes in advising small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as trust and estate matters. Her law practice has been in Norwalk since 2005.
“My practice has afforded me a unique perspective on the trials faced by small and mid-sized business owners in the state,” Wilson said in her statement. “I have seen how onerous it is to start a business in Connecticut, and, more importantly, how difficult it is for a business to remain viable. The climate for small business in our state continues to be inhospitable, and this will not do if there is to be any future economic and job growth within our state.”
“Emily Wilson knows how to listen and to be an effective advocate, as I have seen firsthand,” said Jim Feigenbaum, chairman of the District E Republicans and member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation “She is well qualified to represent Norwalk and New Canaan in the House. Connecticut is facing many challenges, particularly a poor business environment, over spending, neglected infrastructure and high taxes. Emily understands these issues, and I believe she will fight for the voters of the 142nd District.