Lavielle announces she will not run again

WILTON — After 10 years serving as representative for Connecticut’s 143rd House District, Gail Lavielle, a Republican, announced on March 18 that she will not run for a sixth term.

She is Assistant Minority Leader and House Ranking Member of the legislature’s largest committee, Appropriations.

“At the end of this term, I will have served my constituents and the state of Connecticut in the legislature for a decade,” Lavielle said in a press release. “The privilege of serving is a great honor that I will always deeply appreciate. I thank my constituents for allowing me to contribute to our state through public service and for entrusting me with matters that are important to them and to their friends and families and will continue to be so for years to come.”

Lavielle was first elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in November 2010, following a 26-year career as a senior executive with major corporations in both France and the United States. Several years after moving to Wilton from Paris in 2002, she served on the Wilton Board of Finance and Energy Commission.

In her five terms in the legislature, she has focused much of her attention on economic and budgetary issues, education, transportation, government transparency, individual freedom of choice, and issues of local control. Before her appointment as Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, she served as Ranking Member of the Education Committee for four years and, previously, the Commerce Committee.

Lavielle spent most of her legislative career advocating for reduced government spending. Lower taxes for people and businesses, and municipal and education mandate relief were also high on her list of priorities.

She also worked to limit the power of state government to interfere in local decisions, as evidenced by her leadership role in fighting off last year’s threats to regionalize education and school districts. For that, she recently was recognized by the CT Council of Small Towns (COST) with its Town Crier Award.

Lavielle has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work, including being named an “environmental champ” by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, and for her work on educational funding and initiatives, and services for people with intellectual disabilities.

Previous races

After her election in 2010, when she bested Democratic incumbent Peggy Reeves of Wilton by a vote of 4,783 to 4,280, Lavielle said “I can’t think of a group of people that I would want to represent more.”

Al Alper, the Wilton Republican Town Committee chair at the time, described Lavielle’s work ethic as “unbeatable.”

During her first term, Lavielle represented most of Wilton and part of Norwalk, but by the time the election of 2012 rolled around a section of Westport had been added to the district. That year, she garnered 59 percent of the votes to defeat Wilton Democratic Selectman Ted Hoffstatter.

Lavielle’s first term coincided with the first two years of the Malloy administration. Lavielle, who has always fought for a friendlier business climate in the state, said at the time, “it is frustrating to see Connecticut continue to move in a direction in which we are not controlling spending and we’re not doing more to expand the tax base to increase jobs.”

With overwhelming support from her hometown, Lavielle handily defeated Democrat Keith Rodgerson 66 percent to 33 percent in 2014. She pointed to the many voters dissatisfied with the Malloy administration saying, “Voters in Connecticut in general are very dissatisfied with the direction this administration and the majority has taken the state. Taxes are too high, the economy is still sluggish and lagging behind other states, our infrastructure is crumbling because there are no resources to make the necessary investments.”

In 2016, Lavielle ran unopposed.

Lavielle faced her toughest contest in 2018, the year Democrats took back the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats won big among the upper-ticket seats being contested. She bested Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk, who came late to the election, by a vote of 6,085 to 5,721.

As she had during all of her terms in office, Lavielle pointed to the state’s fiscal condition as the root of its problems moving forward.

“The Connecticut economy has shrunk 8 percent in the last decade, and we are the only New England state that hasn’t recovered all the jobs lost during the recession. The priority I have is turning that around,” she said during her campaign.

She highlighted reducing taxes and spending, growing the tax base, making investments in transportation, investing in education, and providing essential services for the “truly needy.”

Lavielle was not sanguine about incoming governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat.

“I have no indication that Ned Lamont is going to do anything differently than what Dan Malloy did,” she said at the time. “The majority in the House and the Senate is still the majority. I have no indication they will do anything different.

“The hard stuff is the fiscal stuff,” she said. “I’m really worried about it.”