Eleven terms serving the 111th district.
If incumbent state Rep. John Frey wins re-election this fall, he won’t need to think very long about his next campaign motto.
Frey, who has been serving Ridgefield’s 111th General Assembly District in the Connecticut House of Representatives for the past two decades, was nominated to run for his 11th term by the Republican Town Committee at its annual caucus Tuesday, May 22.
He called the nomination “an incredible honor.”
“It’s as exciting this time as it was the very first time,” he said Friday, May 25.
Frey said he felt “pretty good” about his chances for re-election when asked about Democratic challenger Aimee Berger-Girvalo, his opponent in November’s race.
“There’s a lot of important issues facing Connecticut that deserve a debate. I’m looking forward to that,” he said.
Guns and marches
Berger-Girvalo, who entered politics as a community organizer after Sandy Hook, has a strong standing in the town chapter of the Women’s March.
Frey shrugged off concern that Berger-Girvalo’s involvement with the Women’s March, and her support for women’s autonomy in health care decisions, would hurt his chances in the fall.
“Last time I got about 70% of the vote, which includes a lot of people that aren’t Republican and aren’t male,” Frey explained.
He focused on introducing, or co-sponsoring, several pieces of legislation in support of women’s health.
Frey was similarly confident about his position on gun control, which Berger-Girvalo also highlighted in her nomination speech, calling “protecting our children and communities from gun violence … [a] social issue of today.”
Frey said he had introduced two pieces of legislation to ban so-called “ghost guns” and “bump stocks” — home-built firearms without federal serial numbers, and devices that allow a semiautomatic weapon to fire at a rate similar to a machine gun, respectively.
Gun violence is also an issue that affected him personally — he had a niece and nephew who were at Sandy Hook Elementary School during Adam Lanza’s 2012 shooting. Both were unharmed in the attack.
“I get that issue,” Frey said.
Hope Wise announced at the caucus that she would not be seeking re-election as the registrar of voters for town Republicans. The position will go to Wayne Floegel, deputy registrar of voters, when Wise’s current term ends in January.
Wise is the current chairwoman of Ridgefield’s Republican Town Committee. She was elected in March of this year.
She confirmed to The Press on May 25 that she will stay on as RTC chairwoman, and is stepping down only as registrar of voters.
Wise said the decision to not run for re-election as registrar was based on personal reasons.
“I will not run again, I’m giving up my seat after 20 years,” Wise said, later adding that it was “time for a change for me, personally.”
Wise said she would do anything in her power to get Frey re-elected for an 11th term.
She added that Berger-Girvalo’s skills as an organizer for the Women’s March were not the same as Frey’s relationships throughout the community he has served since January 1999.
“I’m sure she has ladies groups and buses to Washington,” Wise said, “but we need someone to get us the hell out of this mess we’re in, and nobody’s better for that than John Frey.”
She said she agreed with First Selectman Rudy Marconi that change was needed, but that he was “aiming too low” by looking at the state legislature.
“I think change needs to be at the top of the town as well, but I’ll address that next year, I think,” she added.
Bob Cascella, treasurer of the Republican Town Committee, noted Frey’s popularity with voters in his remarks at the caucus. In the 2014 election, Frey won 74.7% of the total vote, winning his ninth term in the state House of Representatives, Cascella said.
“John has supported measures to improve education for all students, to protect benefits of seniors and veterans residing in Connecticut, to preserve consumers’ rights, to reform state government, and to secure pristine areas of open space,” Cascella said.
He echoed Wise’s praise of Frey’s community outreach, as well as his history of acquiring state aid for town projects, such as the 2008 expansion of the Ballard Green senior living complex, and funding for Bennett’s Pond State Park.
Asked about legislative efforts he wants to lead if re-elected, Frey said he hopes to bring “change” to the state.
“We’ve got so many big issues here in Connecticut,” he said. “On the street, it’s the state budget, debt, and jobs.”
“Everywhere we want to rank first, we rank last; everywhere we want to rank last, we rank first,” he added. “We need some major changes here in Connecticut.”