Ten candidates will battle it out at the polls next Tuesday, August 12, in the Democratic and Republican Primaries. John Fonfara and Edwin Vargas are running for State Senator (1st District). Incumbent State Representative Marie Kirkley-Bey faces challenger Abe Giles in the 5th District and Hector Robles and Carmen Sierra are going for State Representive from the 6th District. For Registrar of Voters, incumbent Shirley Surgeon is being challenged by Olga Vazquez for the Democrats and Sal Bramante and Kevin Brookman are going for the Republican post. Please see page 3 for a map of the districts that are involved.
John Fonfara, 52, has lived in Hartford his entire life and now resides on Montowese Street. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Trinity College. He works in the outdoor advertising industry and is a partner with Face Value, LLC. Fonfara served as State Representative from the Sixth District from 1986 - 1996. He was subsequently elected to the State Senate and is serving out his sixth term. In the Senate, Fonfara is Deputy Majority Leader, Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee and Vice Chair of the Education and Finance Committees.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Edwin Vargas, 59, has been in Hartford for 36 years and now lives on Douglas Street. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Hartford. Vargas was a teacher with the Hartford Public School System from 1972 until he retired earlier this year. He has served as President of the Hartford Federation of Teachers and was Chairman of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee. If elected, he wants to reduce property taxes, lower energy rates through regulation and improve public education through supplementary after-school programs.
State representative – Fifth District
Giles, 82, began working for the Democratic Party when he was a teenager. In 1944 he put together the Yammacraw Village Democratic Committee in his native Georgia to campaign for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He has worked for the Democratic candidate in every presidential campaign since then. Giles came to Hartford in 1956 and soon became involved in city politics. He served as State Representative from 1973 until 1988. Giles lives on Cleveland Avenue in the city’s North End. He and his wife Juanita have been married for 52 years. They have three children, several grandchildren and have been foster parents to over 75 children in need.
A New Britain native, Kirkley-Bey has lived in Hartford for 40 years and resides on Ashley Street. She worked at Aetna Life and Casualty for 22 years, starting with an entry level job and working her way up to management. She is now executive director of the Johnson- Stewart Center on Martin Street. Kirkley-Bey served two terms on Hartford City Council before being elected State Representative in 1992. She is serving out her eighth term in the legislature where she serves on the Appropriations, Legislative Management, Banks, and Screening Committees. Kirkley-Bey is the first woman of color to hold the positions of Deputy Speaker and Deputy Majority Leader.
Democratic Registrar of Voters
Vazquez is a lifelong Hartford resident. She has served the City as Democratic Assistant Registrar of Voters, Democratic Deputy Registrar of Voters and Democratic Registrar of Voters. She has also been a member of the 5th District Town Committee and served as an intern at the Legislative Office Building. Vazquez has been active in the community in a variety of ways, including service on the CRT/Clay Hill Board of Directors, the Board of Education’s Grandparents Committee and the Winter Street Block Watch. Vazquez and her husband, Ray, have three children and five grandchildren.
A native of Jamaica, Surgeon moved to Hartford 35 years ago and now lives on Adams Street in the Upper Albany neighborhood. Before getting elected Democratic Registrar of Voters in 2004, she worked in the City of Hartford Finance Department. Prior to that, she was a legislative aide to Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and a City Council Aide to Councilmen John B. Stewart, Jr. and Steve Harris. Surgeon holds a Master’s Degree from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. She served on the 7th District Democratic Town Committee for two terms.
State representative – Sixth District
A 14-year veteran of the Hartford Police Department, Robles, 36, has also worked as a legislative aide and a special deputy sheriff. A lifelong city resident, he now lives on Victoria Road. He graduated from Bulkeley High School and is currently studying Aviation Science at Naugatuck Valley Community College. Robles has been a member of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee for three terms and the Democratic State Central Committee for two terms. He is also a lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol. Robles said, if elected, he would make public safety, property tax reform and education his top three priorities.
A resident of Broadview Terrace, Sierra, 43, was born in Hartford and has lived in the city for 39 years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Human Resources from Central Connecticut State University, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Hartford and a certificate from the Executive Program in Public Administration from Harvard University’s School of Government. She currently works as Executive Director of CAUSA and as a Montessori Teacher at Kennelly School in Hartford. If elected, Sierra said she would focus on public safety, taxes and education.
Republican Registrar of Voters
Bramante, 54, was born and raised in Hartford and lives on Freeman Street. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. He worked as a Business Systems Analyst for CIGNA and then served 14 years as Republican Deputy Registrar of Voters. Upon the retirement of Joseph DeLorenzo seven months ago, he became Registrar of Voters. He has served 10 years on the Hartford Commission on the City Plan and 15 years as a Board Member and President of the South/Southwest Elderly Housing Corp., which is responsible for the Mary Caruso Gables on Eaton Street.
Brookman, 48, is a resident of Jefferson Street. He was born in Hartford and has lived in the city for a total of 14 years. Brookman has worked in the security industry for 19 years and is currently the owner of Brookman Protection Systems. He is a member of the Republican Town Committee and the Hartford Independent Republicans and also hosts “We The People” on Hartford Public Access Television. If elected, Brookman said, “My challenge would be to turn around the trend of voter apathy and lack of voter involvement and to get people involved in the election process and have their voices heard.”