Race for the 125th district: Ross Tartell

At the age of 66, executive leadership consultant Ross Tartell talks about how he has never run for any office in his life.

“Never even ran for student council,” said Tartell, a 29-year Wilton resident, at the Democratic headquarters where he strategizes his campaign to take the 125th district seat away from Republican state Rep. Tom O’Dea of New Canaan.

“There are three things that made me want to run,” he said. “I see what’s going on in Washington and felt I had to step up my game. I was always active in the community, but this year wanted to do something different.

“I look at Hartford, and they don’t work well together. My career has been about helping individuals and organizations perform. I help them find common ground, collaborate and build the future. That is my background. I want to go to Hartford because they need my skill set. It’s not a political agenda, it’s a performance agenda.

The last is I felt like Wilton needs a better

representative. No one knows who the current representative is in Wilton. Everyone thinks it’s Gail Lavielle. Tom O’Dea needed some competition. The last two elections he’s run against the Green Party. He needed to run against a strong mainstream candidate so he could talk to the issues.”

Those issues include a woman’s right to choose, and Tartell makes it clear he is pro-choice. He is proud to say he has the endorsement from Planned Parenthood. “Women have to have the things in place so they are not encumbered with being fully employed. They need paid family leave, because women are the ones who end up being caregivers, whether for parents or children. That removes an obstacle from their being fully able to contribute to work and society in a work sense,” he said.

Another topical issue is the legalization of marijuana. He is a proponent of that as well. “I think marijuana  should be legalized, regulated and taxed. It’s coming,” he said.

 Tartell provided bullet points of his top priorities if he wins office:

  • Fix the failing transportation system.

  • Support quality schools and education.

  • Stop gun violence with common-sense gun laws.

  • Help Hartford work better, with common ground and reduction of partisan battles.

  • Get Connecticut on track by addressing the money issues of pensions and taxes.

  • Create and strengthen public-private partnerships.

  • Train Connecticut citizens for jobs.

On his website, rosstartell.com, he explains how he will accomplish these things.

Fighting gun violence

“I support legislation to close loopholes in our background check system; to make it illegal for those on the FBI terror watch list to buy a gun; to repeal the Dickey Amendment that bans gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); to encourage licensing requirements for handgun purchases; and to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers,” Tartell said.

The presence of guns in society creates a hidden tax as people and municipalities make investments to protect themselves and their citizens from gun violence, he said.

“Consequently, I endorse the taxation of weapons, ammunition and large-capacity magazines. The money collected through this taxation will be dedicated to increasing the resources necessary to create a safe society,” he said.

Schools and education

Education is at the heart of why people move to Wilton and New Canaan, Tartell said. “Our world-class schools prepare our daughters and sons for the considerable challenges they will face for the rest of their lives. Schools must have adequate resources, take advantage of the latest technology, and integrate that technology into the most appropriate teaching approach for each student,” he said. “The student thrives when the learning experience is personal, and the district succeeds when it makes efficient use of its resources.”


Connecticut is in an economic competition against other states and, in order to win, it needs a modern, reliable and safe transportation system — something Tartell said it does not now have.

“Sections of many of our major highways, as well as streets such as Route 7 for which the state is responsible, are almost undriveable. The threatened cuts to our mass transit systems will cripple our ability to commute to work and move goods and services to our towns, and they will make the lives of the poorest members of our communities even more difficult. Rebuilding our transportation network so people can get to work, businesses can grow, and our towns can thrive depends on proper funding and ensuring that, like our neighboring states, everyone contributes their fair share,” he said.

“Put simply, when Connecticut invests in our roads, bridges, rail and buses, it is investing in the economy, in job growth and in the quality of life in our communities. I will build the coalitions necessary to ensure these investments are made wisely and well to help our state thrive,” he said.

Tartell is a native of West Hempstead, Long Island, and has lived in Wilton 29 years with his wife Karen, who works for Save the Children. Their son,  Michael, 27, is a Ph.D. student in virology at Harvard University.

Ross Tartell has his own leadership development consulting firm and is adjunct associate professor of psychology at Columbia University.

Previously he was employed by GE Capital and Pfizer. He has an MBA, M.Ed. and PhD from Columbia university.

Tartell is a Wilton fire commissioner and has chaired long-range planning teams in the Wilton schools.

In conclusion, he said he’s been doing a lot of door-to-door campaigning in New Canaan, where half the people are registered Republicans. “If they vote party line, I will not win. I have to touch hearts and minds. When they meet me they will vote for me, because I’m taking back the middle,” he said.

Knocking on doors, he meets people.

“I hear people talk about the issues,” he said. “People are extremely concerned about the fiscal future of Connecticut. So I’ve structured a focus on those fiscal issues. Unless we resolve those, the rest of the state will be in jeopardy.”