MONROE, CT — Days after endorsing their party’s slate of 16 candidates for this November’s municipal election, town Democrats welcomed Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and party members from the neighboring town of Easton to a kick-off event, held in the Wine Room at Jennie’s Pizzeria on Monroe Turnpike Sunday.
A wall displayed candidates’ photos, including that of first selectman candidate Jerry Stevens, a retired teacher for Monroe Public Schools who currently serves on the school board in town.
While introducing him to the guests, Fred Martin, the new Monroe Democratic Town Committee chair, jokingly referred to a criticism heard from some political opponents in town.
“Let me introduce our next first selectman of the town of Monroe, Jerry ‘He’s Just a Shop Teacher’ Stevens,” Martin said.
Stevens is running against Town Councilman Terry Rooney, who is vying to replace current First Selectman Ken Kellogg, a fellow Republican who will not seek a fourth consecutive term.
“This isn’t about me,” Stevens said. “This is about the 16 candidates who are up on this wall, who are committed to a mission: open, responsive, transparent government. You are looking at a cross section of Monroe.”
Stevens spoke of his love and commitment to the town of Monroe and described the energy around his campaign and the support he has received from the community.
As a teacher, he touched the lives of the over 20,000 Monroe students over the course of his career, according to a press release on the event.
“I am Jerry Stevens, Monroe’s next first selectman,” he said as the room erupted into applause. “We are going to celebrate Monroe with each other.”
Martin expressed encouragement and praise for the qualifications of the candidates his committee is endorsing this year.
Sunday’s guests included Jim Tickey, the Connecticut Democratic Committee vice chair; former Monroe First Selectwoman Karen Burnaska, Easton DTC Chair Nanette DeWester and Easton Planning and Zoning Chair John Foley.
While looking at the photos of Monroe candidates, Bysiewicz said she loved the fact there are “lots of women”.
“I am so excited for this team of people, because we know Democrats can win in Monroe,” she said. “We know that because Karen Burnaska was a Democrat.”
She went on to praise Stevens for leading a life devoted to public education and public service in Monroe.
“You just couldn’t pick anyone who is more embedded in the heart of this community,” Bysiewicz said. “So proud to endorse you. Love the ticket you’re running with. There is a recipe for success and it’s having a lot of smart competent women running with you.”
“Monroe Democrats do have a great opportunity this November,” Burnaska said. “You can do it. Every member of the DTC, every member of the slate, every member of boards and commissions, has to get together and work. We want to work with you to make Monroe a better place. Jerry has already laid the ground work for this campaign and it’s really good.”
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