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West Hartford Democrats Endorse Slate of Candidates for 2020 Election

Endorsed Democratic Party candidates from West Hartford include (clockwise, from top left) Derek Slap, Jillian Gilchrest, Tammy Exum, Sherry Haller. Submitted photos

Candidates were endorsed at virtual conventions this week.

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Democratic Town Committee, meeting at virtual district conventions this past week, has endorsed a slate of candidates for the November 2020 election.

Incumbent 5th District State Sen. Derek Slap, who was elected to succeed Beth Bye in a special election in February 2019, was endorsed this week.

“I am honored to be nominated to serve my first full term as a state senator and am grateful to the delegates and all constituents in the 5th district,” Slap told We-Ha.com. “Since the pandemic hit I’ve been laser like focused on helping people access benefits, protecting nursing home residents, assisting small businesses and standing up for people with disabilities. My approach won’t change during the election season. I’m here to help,” Slap said.

“Our challenges will extend well beyond this year. We will need collaboration, innovation and dedication to rebuild and strengthen our community and state. I am as energized as ever to serve.”

In the 18th District, State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, who has just completed her first term, has been endorsed to run for re-election.

“I am so honored to receive the Democratic nomination for the 18th District in the State Legislature,” Gilchrest told We-Ha.com. “I’ve always seen the role of State Representative as being an advocate – a voice – for the people of West Hartford. I am grateful to have the support of the Democratic Party as I seek a second term in office to do what I love. I feel very fortunately to have this opportunity.”

A former member of the West Hartford Board of Education, Gilchrest also serves as director of Health Professional Outreach at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Tammy Exum, former vice chair of the West Hartford Board of Education who was elected in an April 2019 special election to the seat vacated by Derek Slap, was endorsed in the 19th District.

It is an honor to accept your nomination to be the Democratic Party candidate as I run for my first full term to represent the 19th State House District, which includes part of Avon, Farmington, and West Hartford,Exum said in a statement. Now I realize, that understandably, during a global pandemic, local politics might not be top of mind for most people. However, the leaders we send to Hartford this November will make decisions over the next few years that will determine how successful families and businesses recover from this health and economic crisis.”

Democrats in the 20th District endorsed newcomer Sherry Haller to run for the seat being vacated by longtime incumbent Joe Verrengia.

Haller has been president of the Buena Vista Property Owners Association for the past 10 years, and for more than 40 years has served as executive director of the Justice Education Center, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to community safety and justice reform.

“I am honored and humbled by the support I have received from our delegates,” Haller said. “Throughout my campaign I have been committed to speaking with as many residents as possible. While many of those conversations have had to take place ‘virtually,’ I look forward to many more in-person conversations with those whom I hope to serve when it is safe to do so,” Haller said.

Haller will face a challenger from her own party.

Kate Farrar, who announced her candidacy for the 20th District seat in January, right after Verrengia announced he would not run again, will continue her bid.

Kate Farrar. Courtesy photo

“I am pursuing ballot access by petitioning to primary on Aug. 11, Farrar told We-Ha.com.

She is the former Executive Director of the Connecticut Womens Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), a statewide nonprofit with a mission of gender equity, and a volunteer with the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls and the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools.

“This COVID-19 public health emergency has illuminated the deep inequities that need to be addressed by our state government – both now and in the long road of recovery,” Farrar said.

“This crisis demands new ideas, new energy, and new voices be included at the decision-making table. The 20th District is the most diverse area of West Hartford – in income, age, race and ethnicity. From Park Road to New Park Avenue to Elmwood to Buena Vista, our community faces greater challenges and deserves a stronger voice in the decisions that affect our lives.”

Information about the primary process will follow.

Local Democrats also endorsed longterm U.S. Rep. John B. Larson’s bid for re-election in the 1st District.

West Hartford Republicans have also announced a slate of candidates for November’s election.

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