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News Jan 24, 2019 - 5:03:13 AM

Connecticut Democrats Announce New Leadership

By Connecticut Democratic Party

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Hartford, CT - Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee has chosen former Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman as State Party Chair and New Haven attorney Erick Russell as Vice Chair, in elections held tonight. Jacqueline Kozin, who most recently served as Governor Lamont’s Deputy Campaign Manager, will serve as the next Executive Director.

Audrey Blondin of Litchfield was re-elected Secretary, and Norwalk City Councilwoman Eloisa Melendez was chosen as Treasurer. The new leadership team, whose term begins February 1, will focus on building Party infrastructure and leading Connecticut Democrats as they prepare for municipal elections and defending their majority in 2020.

Former Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman began a career in public service more than 30 years ago when she successfully sought a seat on the Tolland Board of Education. After serving for eight years on the Tolland BOE, Wyman was elected to four terms in the State House of Representatives where she served as chair of the Education Committee and held a leadership position on the Appropriations sub-committee on Elementary and Secondary education. In 1994, she became the first woman elected State Comptroller. Wyman was later elected 108th Lieutenant Governor serving as a partner to Governor Dannel P. Malloy in the work to bolster statewide economic recovery and build a strong foundation for growth, long-term stability and prosperity. She chairs the board of the Interagency Council for Ending the Achievement Gap and is the Chair of the Board of Access Health CT, Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace. Created in 2011 to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act, Access Health CT is recognized nationally as one of the best health exchanges in the country, with other states implementing Connecticut’s technology.

Erick Russell is a New Haven-raised attorney who currently represents state and municipal governments at Pullman & Comley and serves on the New Haven Democratic Town Committee. Erick currently serves as Chair of the LGBT section of the Connecticut Bar Association, as the Co-Chair of Connecticut Cares for Lambda Legal, and as a member of the Connecticut Criminal Justice Commission. Erick previously served on the board of directors for the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association and represented low-income taxpayers before the IRS as a part of the University of Connecticut School of Law’s Low-Income Tax Clinic.

Jacqueline Kozin served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Ned Lamont's successful 2018 election for Governor. Prior to Lamont, she served as Legislative Liaison and Director of Intergovernmental and Community Affairs for State Comptroller Kevin Lembo. She also managed his first two statewide campaigns for Comptroller. Kozin, known for her successful track record managing campaigns, is also a recognized national leader on women's rights and serves on the national board of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and its PAC. She is the Founder and Chair of Ella's List, a PAC dedicated to building a pipeline of progressive women candidates. Kozin organized more than 70 Connecticut buses to Washington DC for the 2017 Women's March; founded the Connecticut Democratic Party's Women's Caucus; and was recognized by the Connecticut Democratic Party for her volunteer work on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. She is also a member of the Greater Hartford NAACP. She has a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Albertus Magnus College. Kozin grew up in New Haven and lives in Hartford.

Audrey Blondin, who is currently serving as party Secretary, has been a member of the Democratic State Central Committee since 2002, representing the 14 towns of the Northwest Corner. She was one of the Committee’s first women attorneys and has served as a delegate to Democratic National Conventions. She became involved in politics in 1979 on the Torrington mayor’s race, and served on the Democratic Town Committee there until moving to Litchfield in 1986, where she became local chairman and was elected to the Board of Selectmen. She founded Torrington's first woman-owned law firm and practices primarily real estate, business, probate and estate planning law, as well as assisting her husband in Blondin Shea Eyecare.

Eloisa Melendez is a twenty-four-year-old Norwalk City Councilwoman. She was first elected in 2013, at the age of 19. She is currently serving her third term on the council. Eloisa is a first generation Norwalker. Her mother was born in Medellin, Colombia and her father was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. She is the chair of the Ordinance committee of the Common Council, where she is tasked with leading the committee that reviews and creates Norwalk laws. She is a student at the University of Connecticut, Stamford campus. She’s the President of the UConn Stamford College Democrats and Vice President of the UConn Stamford Latinx Organization.

“It’s been a great honor to serve the people of this state, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to build on the foundation we’ve created in this last election. As we look ahead, it’s important we continue to energize and include new and young voters. I’ll be asking members of the Democratic State Central Committee for their support in the coming weeks and look forward to continuing to serve,” said Wyman.

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve as the Party’s next Vice Chair. I look forward to helping lead the Party as we work to find ways to continue to foster an environment where everyone’s voice is heard and reach out to residents in every corner of the state. As Vice Chair, I’m committed to identifying and supporting a diverse group of Democrats who will represent the ideals of our Party and help lead us into the future. We have the opportunity to build on the tremendous success of the last Party Chair and Vice Chair, and I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Wyman, as we gear up for future elections,” said Russell.

"I'm thrilled to help lead the Party forward after a successful election cycle. While we made gains all over the state, there is so much more work to be done to elect Democrats and protect our progress. As Executive Director, I plan to focus on building a Party of inclusion that is reflective of our state and prioritizing outreach to ensure that all communities have a voice. I look forward to work with our next Chair, former Lt. Governor Wyman, and our next Vice Chair, Erick Russell to bring new perspectives to the table and carry the Party into its next chapter," said Kozin.

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