State Sen. Gayle Slossberg endorses Milford resident James Maroney to fill her shoes
The Democratic political backing couldn’t have been any stronger when James Maroney formally announced last week that he is running for state senatorin the 14th district.
State Sen. Gayle Slossberg, who is retiring after 14 years in the position, said at the announcement that while everyone probably thought she was smiling over retirement, it was really because she was happy to be standing next to Maroney, a former state representative, a friend and the best choice to succeed her.
“James has the experience, the intelligence and the persistence to be a great state senator,” Slossberg said.
There was also the strong message among speakers that Maroney, a small business owner, dedicated family man and lifelong city resident, is a person of good character — “And not the kind of character we have in the White House,” Democratic party leader Rich Smith said.
Smith said Maroney is “well regarded and respected on both sides of the aisle.”
“People find him approachable and down to earth,” Smith said.
Maroney, a former state representative in the 119th Districtand local small business owner, said he is “overwhelmed” with the support he has so far, and looks forward to serving residents of Milford, Orange, West Haven and part of Woodbridge. While he grew up in Milford, Maroney has strong ties to all those communities.
“Serving is a tremendous opportunity to impact the lives of many people,” Maroney said. “There’s a need for thoughtful leadership … It’s time to bring civility back.”
Maroney said one of his strengths is the ability to listen to what people are saying, internalize and synthesize the information to come up with possible solutions and bring people together.
In an interview before the formal announcement, Maroney said the economy and education are among his priorities.
“How do we build Connecticut to get away from where we are?” he said. “We need to build a start-up economy,” Maroney said, noting Connecticut has some of the top students in the world.
He said there is “no easy solution,” to the state’s budget woes — it cannot be about adding taxes, he said, but rather about controlling costs.
“We need to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem and a start-up mentality,” he said. “We can’t buy a top company from another state; no, we need to grow our own new companies, as we are just a few successful startups away from once again having a thriving economy.”
Maroney said there should be a focus on filling some 13,000 advanced manufacturing jobs because for every job filled there will be a multiplier of three to five times in the creation of other jobs.
Maroney, a 1996 graduate of Yale University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics, left a job on Wall Street to raise a family and now owns a small local business, Test Prep, which prepares students to take standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT and offers other services to prepare them for college. He is married to Dr. Jennifer Ju and they have a young son, Jay.
Higher education has always been a priority for Maroney, and in continuing his track as a state representative will look for ways the state can “extend access to higher education for everyone.”
Maroney, who has held many volunteer positions in the city, said some of his ideas include expanding apprenticeships, partnering with companies in order to get them to offer tuition, and looking at ways to partner with volunteers who will help students navigate FAFSA — Free Application for Federal Student Aid — to make the most of accessing financial aid that is available and to help in persistence.
“We need to teach students today for the jobs of tomorrow,” Maroney said. “The key is to reach students where they are … “How do we leverage the resources we have?”
Mayor Ben Blake also wholeheartedly endorses Maroney.
“Our community’s future will be in good hands with James Maroney as a senator — he’s honest and hard-working, smart and sensible — there’s not a phony bone in his body,” Blake said. “James knows this community and is always there to serve. Most importantly, he’s respected and ready to roll-up his sleeves on day one to represent Milford, Orange, West Haven and Woodbridge.”
Maroney said at his announcement — held at Founder’s Walk , project he conceived and saw through to the end even after his state representative tenure ended — that Slossberg leaves “big shoes to fill” in Hartford.
“You have shown that it is important to be independent, thoughtful, carefully watch every dollar, and most importantly, serve your constituents well,” Maroney said, referring to Slossberg. “Your constituent service has been second to none. I have learned from your example, and if you don’t mind, I plan on leaning on your experience as we move forward.”
Maroney told his enthusiastic crowd of supporters this week that, “While we need to respect our history, we need to recognize that times are changing and see how we can be true to ourselves while retooling for the new economy.”
He said everyone needs to work together: “government, business, and neighbors, to build a better future for our children and grandchildren.”
“I believe that Connecticut’s best days are still ahead of us, but that it will take thoughtful leadership, shared sacrifice, and teamwork to get there,” Maroney told supporters.