Elections Government Politics

Kate Farrar Earns Spot on Primary Ballot, Will Face Sherry Haller in West Hartford’s 20th District

Democrat Kate Farrar will face endorsed candidate Sherry Haller in a primary on Aug. 11, 2020.

Kate Farrar stands in front of West Hartford Town Hall as she prepares to submit the final pages of her petition to be on the ballot for a Democratic primary for the 20th District. Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

Registered Democrats in the 20th District will have an additional reason to vote in the Aug. 11 primary – more than just a perfunctory vote for the presumptive presidential nominee.

Resident Kate Farrar submitted a petition with more than twice as many signatures as required to gain a spot on the Democratic ballot, and will face endorsed candidate Sherry Haller in a primary for the 20th District, which comprises much of the southern portion of town.

Farrar was required to submit 218 signatures on a petition, and despite the challenges of obtaining signatures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she dropped off the final sheet of signatures Thursday, prior to the 4 p.m. deadline, bringing the total to 450. The petition is received by the Town Clerk’s office and signatures are verified by the Registrar of Voters.

Farrar said she had help from a group of volunteers who gathered signatures from family, friends, and neighbors, and also received signatures from individual Democrats who sent in their petitions.

“Voters clearly want new energy and new voices at the State Capitol,” Farrar said in a statement. “Our state is facing major challenges ahead. This outpouring of support demonstrates how our community is uniting together to build a better future.” 

Farrar formerly served as executive director of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), and led the passage of the state’s landmark Paid Family & Medical Leave law in 2019, and as a nonprofit advocate for the past 20 years has also worked to promote policies for pay equity, expanded STEM education for tens of thousands of girls in public schools, and to protect working families. 

“The inequalities in our economy, healthcare and education have gone on for too long,” she said. “The 20th District is the most diverse area of West Hartford,” said Farrar, and promises to be a champion for meaningful change.

Farrar has received the support of the 20th District’s former State Representative David McCluskey, labor unions representing essential grocery store workers (UFCW) and local manufacturing in the New Park Avenue area (UAW Region 9A), and and local leaders in immigrant communities in the district.

Earlier this week, Farrar also received the endorsement of PoliticaCT, a progressive women’s membership organization originally co-founded by West Hartford’s State Senator Beth Bye.

Sherry Haller. Submitted photo (we-ha.com file photo)

Joe Verrengia, who currently serves as the representative in the 20th District and announced in January that he would not seek re-election, endorsed Haller on June 3.

“Today, I am proud to announce that I am endorsing Sherry Haller. Both Sherry and I are lifelong residents of West Hartford,” Verrengia said in a statement. “Sherry’s lifelong connection to our town gives her a deep understanding of the diversity of our community. She brings to the table decades of experience as executive director of The Justice Education Center. In her role, she has already worked at the Capitol on a range of issues. Her experience will benefit all of us when she is elected. She understands the need to advocate for everyone and bring people together to solve problems. Sherry is the best candidate for our district, and I hope you will join me in supporting her campaign.”

Haller praised Verrengia’s exceptional service to the 20th District. “If I am fortunate to be elected, I will work as hard as I can to follow in Joe’s footsteps. I care deeply about our community,” Haller said. “Because we face uncertain times ahead, both in our state and our country, my most important goal will be to ensure that our residents’ quality of life will continue to grow for generations to come.”

Haller has been endorsed by the Carpenters Local 326 Political Action Committee.

All West Hartford polling places will be open for the Aug. 11 primary, the town’s registrars of voters said in a presentation to the Town Council on Tuesday. Those in the town’s fourth district (which is part of the 20th House District) who normally vote at the Elmwood Community Center, however, will instead vote at Charter Oak International Academy to better accommodate COVID-19-related protocols for spacing and separate entrances and exits.

All registered Democrats and Republicans who vote in the Aug. 11 primary will be permitted to vote by absentee ballot for the usual reasons (being out of town for the full day, being sick, etc.), as well as if they do not feel comfortable voting in person. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an executive order issued by Gov. Ned Lamont has broadened the rules for use of absentee ballots.

Al Cortes. Courtesy photo (we-ha.com file photo)

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Alberto Cortes, who received his party’s endorsement in May.

It has yet to be decided whether or not the use of absentee ballots will be expanded for the November 2020 election. Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers expire on Sept. 9, and he has called for the state legislature, which has the authority to expand the absentee ballot rules for November, to hold a special session to address that issue, as well as legislation addressing police accountability.

The West Hartford Town Council vote 7-1 (with Republican Chris Williams abstaining) Tuesday night to forward a resolution to the state legislature in support of expanded absentee ballot voting for the November election as well as “no excuse” absentee balloting in the future.

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