Being an active and concerned union member is a great way to transform your workplace. Fighting for your community in legislative chambers is another way. Here’s a look at three Council 4 members and first-time candidates for state representative:
West Haven: Mike DiMassa and Sean Ronan
This election season, color the city of West Haven AFSCME Green.
It’s here you’ll find not one but two Council 4 members seeking election as state representatives: Mike DiMassa and Sean Ronan.
DiMassa, a member of Local 681 (West Haven DPW/City Hall) is running in the 116th District (West Haven and New Haven). Ronan, 48, a member of Local 1159 (Bridgeport Police), hopes to represent the 117th District (West Haven, Milford and Orange).
Both candidates share a strong belief in unions and the need to ensure the Connecticut legislature is more worker-friendly.
“Unions have done so much to improve people’s lives,” DiMassa said. “We need to support collective bargaining and create livable wage jobs. That’s good for workers and good for businesses.”
Ronan shares that sentiment. The longtime Bridgeport police detective and Army veteran comes from a strong union family (including a brother who is a state correction officer and a sister who is a town dispatcher).
“Unions built America. I’m running as a working man’s candidate,” he said, noting that his opponent, incumbent Republican Charles Ferraro, want to slash workers’ pay and benefits, and curtail bargaining rights.
DiMassa, 25, is a newcomer to politics. The city council clerk upset veteran incumbent Lou Esposito by 22 votes in the August Democratic primary. Council 4 endorsed DiMassa in the primary, and helped his effort with get out the vote phone calls and an in-district mailing.
Ronan, 48, has already been fighting for his fellow West Haven residents as a four-term member of the West Haven City Council.
“I want to help my constituents have a voice in Hartford. We need more economic development and good stable jobs so our communities can flourish,” he said.
“Sean and I are not looking to be career politicians,” DiMassa reflected. “We want to bring a fresh perspective. We want to have a positive impact.”
Ronan added, “It’s noble to be in politics and want to help your constituents.”
Vernon: Jim Tedford
A sunny Friday in September recently found Jim Tedford of AFSCME Local 1471 (Vernon Public Works, Parks and Rec, Water Pollution Control) at the XL Center in Hartford, where he spent a vacation day helping the Connecticut Mission of Mercy provide free dental care to more than 1,300 citizens in need.
“It’s about improving the human condition and paying it forward,” Tedford said during a break from his duties at the Mission of Mercy’s dental clinic, where he has volunteered for three years.
The 35-year town employee is taking the same approach to his candidacy for the 56th House District (Vernon and Rockville): “I see a lot of things that need improvement. I want to make my part of the state better.”
Tedford, a Republican, is currently serving his first term as a town councilman and garnered the highest number of votes in last year’s municipal election. As a past president of his local, and a current member of Council 4’s Delegate Assembly, he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the legislature if he’s elected.
“I believe in unions. I’ve also seen what it’s like to lack the rights and dignity that come with having a union to protect you. I’d like to work with organized labor to advance legislation that helps everyone in the public and private sectors.”