The West Hartford Democratic Town Committee elected a new slate of officers last week, and Jonathan Slifka will take over as party chair.
By Ronni Newton
Jonathan Slifka was elected last week as chair of the West Hartford Democratic Town Committee, and is honored to be assuming a leadership role in the town’s political arena.
Slifka – who is the current mayor’s younger brother – has served on the Democratic Town Committee since 2011 and has worked tirelessly behind the scenes on many campaigns.
“It’s been coming together for a while,” he said of his move into a leadership role.
In accepting the role, Slifka said he looks forward to continuing the party’s work “in helping to ensure that West Hartford remains one of the most diverse, tolerant and sought after communities in which to reside and visit in Connecticut and throughout the Northeast.”
Specifically, he listed the following goals:
- Continue to find good Democratic candidates and get them elected
- Get back to more robust fundraising
- Make West Hartford more relevant at the state level.
“We need to do a better job of outreach,” Slifka said about fundraising efforts. West Hartford is a robust community, and he said that it’s important to keep a consistent source of incoming funds to support the goals of the Town Committee.
As for making West Hartford more relevant on a state-wide level, Slifka said that West Hartford voters play an important role that should not be ignored. “West Hartford had the fourth highest voter turnout [in the state] in the 2014 gubernatorial election. When people run for higher office, West Hartford should be the place they go for support.”
Right now Slifka doesn’t see his new role as West Hartford’s party chair as a stepping stone to running for office. “I don’t think so at this point, but never say never,” he said. Slifka said he enjoys working in politics without holding office, but he admits that several years ago he didn’t see himself in his current position.
“I love working with the governor, and the issues I get to work on,” he said of his cabinet position as Gov. Dannel Malloy’s liaison to the disability community. His responsibilities include outreach on behalf of the governor and executive branch agencies to “individuals with disabilities in order to provide policy and practical recommendations for advocacy, employment, programs and services.”
Slifka was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, but has broken through many barriers throughout his life. He was one of the first students with a disability to be mainstreamed in the West Hartford Public Schools, and played on the high school tennis team. He was also the first athlete in a wheelchair to play Little League baseball in West Hartford and was the inspiration for the Ivan Lendl Adaptive Sports Camp started by his mother, Janeace Slifka, and now held each summer at the University of Saint Joseph.
“I continue to be extremely proud of him, and even more so based on this,” West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka said of his younger brother. “He has been a tireless advocate for the disabled and other causes, and it’s fun to see that spark of political interest grow from his work on my campaign and his work at the capitol.”
Jonathan said taking on the leadership role is challenging, and not something he would have done without his brother’s support.
Jonathan Slifka, 38, is a graduate of St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, NC. He currently resides on Fairfield Road with his wife Andrea.
Slifka’s replaces former Democratic party chair Rosemarie Tate. Other newly-elected Democratic party officers include: Beverly Brakeman, Vice Chairperson; Steven Derby, Secretary; David McCluskey, Assistant Secretary; Jamie Marinan, Treasurer and Gail Crockett, Assistant Treasurer.
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