‘Stunning’ in size, a new class of 36 legislators enters the Connecticut General Assembly | Hartford Courant

January 10, 2023

From the Hartford Courant:


When the 2023 legislative session opened Wednesday morning, there were 36 new members of the Connecticut General Assembly — an unusually large number.


In the House, 17 Democrats and 11 Republicans took their seats on the chamber floor for the first time, and in the Senate, five new Democrats and three Republicans did the same — describing the moment they stood to take their oath of office as “surreal,” “overwhelming” and “humbling.”


“The most stunning factor is how huge this year’s class is,” said Rep. Bob Godfrey of the 110th House District. “I’m impressed by its diversity, by their enthusiasm, by their interest. These aren’t individuals who are going to sit around and just show up to vote.”


Since he was first elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1988, Godfrey has seen many new faces enter and leave the chamber. He said the current shift to a more hands-on nature is a step in the right direction for the legislature.


“The culture has changed,” Godfrey said. “There’s no one anymore that just comes in to give the lip service minimum effort. They’re all very hardworking, very interested people, and I’m just delighted by that. It makes for better government, it makes for better laws.”


As one of the leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly’s new legislator orientation, Republican Rep. Tami Zawistowski of the 61st House District said she was impressed by the level of experience possessed by the newbies on her side of the aisle.


“It seems to be a very eager group. Everybody seems to be taking this very seriously,” Zawistowski said of the 36 new legislators. “It’s a nice growing process, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with these freshmen as time goes on.”


Zawistowski’s advice to the class of newcomers is to “Read the bills, listen to the debates.”


Godfrey said, “Pick an issue that you can run with and get passed … and have an overnight bag in the trunk of your car. You never know.”


The group of senators and representatives includes immigrants and lifelong locals, veterans, first responders, clergy, nurses, social workers, lawyers, municipal officials, teachers and business leaders.


One noteworthy resume belongs to Rep. Marty Foncello, a Republican representing the 107th House District of Bethel, Brookfield, and Newtown.


The retired lieutenant colonel served for 28 years in the U.S. Army and worked as a senior intelligence officer for the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Foncello also led Brookfield for two terms as the town’s first selectman.


Foncello said he is looking to lower taxes, increase benefits for seniors and veterans, and get Connecticut students’ academics back on track.


Many plan to bring their professional expertise to the public role, like Republican Sen. Dr. Jeffrey Gordon of the 35th Senate District which encompasses Ashford, Chaplin, Coventry, Eastford, Ellington, Hampton, Stafford, Thompson, Tolland, Union, Vernon, Willington, and Woodstock.


Gordon is a physician who specializes in caring for patients with cancers and blood disorders. He served as the president of the Connecticut State Medical Society in addition to many medical leadership roles. He’s also the commissioner of the Woodstock Planning and Zoning Commission and was a leader in other community roles concerning education, agriculture and safety.


“I now have an expanded opportunity beyond what I’ve been doing in my town as an elected official to help people and help make a difference in people’s lives, and also see what we can do for the future of our state,” Gordon said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity at a state level, but also [a chance] to really help bring those types of opportunities, and I hope good things, back to the people in each of the towns of my district.”


Gordon said he is looking forward to his involvement in decisions concerning how the state collects and spends taxes. He wants to increase resources and support for Connecticut State Troopers and local law enforcement. Gordon also said he wants to expand mental health care for adults and children and responsibly increase health care affordability and access.


“[I want to] make certain that we can help facilitate the care that’s given by doctors and other caregivers in Connecticut to streamline the process [and to] try to get rid of roadblocks and red tape that really delay health care being delivered to people,” Gordon said.


Article continues here.