Big Wins for Working Families
Harry Rilling, bottom row, 2nd from right, welcomes AFSCME Local 2405's endorsement.
The Nov. 5 elections brought significant changes to the political landscape throughout Connecticut's cities and towns. Much of the change was driven by union members who turned out to support candidates who share our middle class values. Highlights from the 2013 municipal campaigns included:
- Toni Harp, the State Senator and former AFSCME Local 3144 member, who was elected as New Haven's first African-American female mayor. "ASFCME and I share a vision for a new, New Haven," Harp said. "We share a vision of a New Haven that pays all workers fairly, that provides social services to the less fortunate, and guarantees all employees a secure retirement."
- Harry Rilling, the former Norwalk police chief who received the endorsements of every major municipal union as he cruised to victory against an anti-labor incumbent. “Not once did you ever ask me to promise you anything. You asked me to be a mayor of the people and of the working class of the city of Norwalk," Rilling told AFSCME Local 2405 members. "That was something that was so easy for me to agree to...."
- Ed O'Brien, a Democratic challenger who embraced an anti-privatization agenda as part of his election, was elected mayor West Haven. O'Brien defeated Democratic mayor John Picard in the primary and then withstood a write-in campaign by Picard to emerge victorious.
Looking across the country, AFSCME President Lee Saunders described the 2013 election "a pivotal moment for progressive American values, as voters across the country elected candidates who stand with working families, unions, and the middle class, and approved ballot measures raising the minimum wage.
Council 4 members applaud Toni Harp at her endorsement press conference. Photo courtesy of New Haven Independent.
National media weighed in, too, on the election results. As Time magazine reported, "Across the country, candidates backed by unions triumphed over their counterparts, while ballot measures broke in favor of the unions that had campaigned for them as well."