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More Prominent West Hartford Democrats Voice Support for Derek Slap in 5th District

Derek Slap. Submitted photo (we-ha.com file photo)

Democrats on the West Hartford Town Council, as well as other Democratic Party leaders, have endorsed Derek Slap, bolstering his bid for the 5th District State Senate seat vacated by Beth Bye.

By Ronni Newton

Endorsements for Derek Slap continue to roll in, and as of Thursday evening 11 more prominent Democrats, as well as the Conard High School Young Democrats, have indicated that they support Slap’s bid for the 5th District State Senate seat previously held by Beth Bye.

Democratic Town Council members Leon Davidoff, Liam Sweeney, Dallas Dodge, and Ben Wenograd, as well as former Town Council member Judy Casperson, endorsed Slap on Thursday.

In addition, 20th District State Rep. Joe Verrengia, West Hartford Democratic Town Committee Chair Jonathan Slifka, former Democratic Town Committee chair Rosemarie Tate, District 5 Democratic State Central Committee members Barbara Gordon and Jospeh Stafford, former West Hartford Board of Education vice chair Tammy Exum, and the Conard High School Young Democrats have pledged their support for Slap.

“With the special election less than two months away, this support is critical to building a winning coalition,” Slap said.

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, and former mayor Scott Slifka, announced earlier in the week that they have endorsed Slap as well.

Slap, who currently serves as the 19th District state representative, declared his interest in the State Senate seat on Jan. 2, the same day that the announcement of Bye’s appointment by [now] Gov. Ned Lamont to lead the Office of Early Childhood was made.

Bye, who became a state senator in 2010 and was previously a member of the State House, was re-elected in November 2018. She resigned on Jan. 9, before legislators took the oath of office and began the new session.

A special election will be held to fill the seat, with the date to be set by Lamont within 10 days of the resignation of the existing office-holder, Gabe Rosenberg, Communications Director for Secretary of State Denise Merrill, said Monday.

The special election will be 46 days after it is called by the governor. That traditionally happens on a Friday, Rosenberg said, so that the special election will take place on a Tuesday. He anticipates that Lamont will call the special election either this week or on Jan. 18, and the special election will then be either Feb. 26 or March 5.

The district includes Farmington, Burlington, and a portion of Bloomfield. Prior to the special election, the same 67 Democratic delegates who nominated Bye in 2018 will reconvene to nominate her replacement. Forty-five of the delegates are from West Hartford.

“I’m grateful for the endorsement and support of these local leaders,” said Slap. “They understand what’s at stake in this election for our town, local schools and families. Over the last two years we’ve worked together to advocate for West Hartford at the Capitol and ensure that our town always has a seat at the table when big decisions are being made.”

Slap was first elected to the State House in 2016, and as a freshman legislator was named an environmental champion by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, ARC Angel of the 2017 legislative session for his work helping those with disabilities, and earned an award from the AARP for his advocacy for controlling energy costs for seniors. He also helped to lead passage of a pay equity bill, which gained national attention, and worked with Senator Bye to create the 1st ever independent MDC consumer advocate.

“I’m committed to being an inclusive, collaborative and tireless advocate on behalf of families in West Hartford, Farmington, Burlington and Bloomfield,” Slap said.

West Hartford Deputy Mayor Beth Kerrigan has also officially declared her intent to pursue the seat, and Michael Daly, chairman of the Farmington Town Committee, has also announced his bid for the seat. 

The Hartford Courant reported Thursday that Bill Wadsworth of Farmington, a Republican who is a former state representative and ran unsuccessfully against Bye for the 5th State Senate district in 2014, plans a bid for the seat.

Slap said that he expects to receive additional endorsements next week. He also plans to name a campaign manager and treasurer.

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