Third time's a charm for Staneski: State Rep-elect was determined to win 119th district
Three times was definitely a charm for Republican Pam Staneski, who won the Nov. 4 election for state representative in the 119th District against an incumbent Democrat.
Staneski, 54, ran for the seat twice before, first in 2004 against longtime incumbent Democrat Richard Roy. Roy took the race by more than 1,500 votes that year, beating Staneski 6,101 to 4,528.
She took another shot in 2012, and this time the odds were a bit more in her favor. The district lines had been redrawn, making the 119th largely Republican, and Roy was no longer running. Instead, Staneski faced a first-time seeker of the seat, Democrat James Maroney.
But Maroney took the win by about 350 votes, beating Staneski 5,998 to 5,528.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” she said, but she added that a week later she’d shaken off the defeat and returned to other city business, like her volunteer work with the Milford Prevention Council, United Way and the local schools.
This year, Staneski’s determination saw her through to victory — again a tight race, as she pulled ahead of Maroney by 151 votes, 4,423 to 4,272, creating quite a hoopla and lots of excitement in the Staneski camp after the votes were counted Nov. 4.
This election was different in Milford from past elections. Democrats ended their sweep of Milford’s state seats, a sweep that started with the 2004 election and ran through to 2012.
Republican Town Committee Chairman Paul Beckwith said Milford voters were looking for a change. And change they did: Four Democrats representing Milford at the state level went to two Democrats and two Republicans this Election Day.
He said Staneski’s win was a message that voters want her to usher in change at the state level.
“It was a great day for the Republican Party in Milford,” Beckwith said.
Staneski gave a lot of credit to her team of volunteers.
“People stepped up and gave not just an hour but hours,” she said.
And there was the walking.
“My goal was to knock on 5,000 doors,” Staneski said. And despite a pretty serious foot injury, she knocked on 5,278 doors.
Staneski reached people in other ways too. Matt Gaynor, the 20-year-old candidate for state Senate, brought in a number of young people to work on his campaign. And Gaynor’s young volunteers helped Staneski, too.
“I would send my stuff to a young person, and they would tweet it for me,” Staneski said.
Ann Fabian, Staneski’s campaign coordinator, agreed that the young, social media-savvy group made a difference this time around.
But there were other things, too. Fabian was involved with Staneski’s campaigns in the past, but this time she was there full-time. Another longtime supporter, Staneski's campaign chairman Dick Dowin, said Staneski and Fabian together made quite a team.
Fabian said, “We strategized and we stayed positive,” and she said the positivity was electric.
“That positive feeling resonated from the first day until the night of the election,” Fabian said. “Pam never gave up being positive.
“She wanted the win,” Fabian continued, “and her message was clear to people that Connecticut was going in a down direction instead of up, and that she wanted to be their voice to get things moving in the right direction.”
Dowin said it’s hard to know where to start when describing Staneski’s determination to win the 119th seat.
“I’ve never seen anyone more dedicated or work harder to win an election,” Dowin said. “She studied the issues; she had a plan and she stuck with it.”
Ready to go
Even though she won’t be sworn in until January, Staneski is already talking to constituents, making plans and securing contacts so she’s ready to hit the ground running.
She’s talked to people at the Agency on Aging in New Haven to try to set up a local forum about Medicare in response to one resident’s concerns.
She’s working on her transportation contacts in response to another woman who said she had to give up a job she liked in Monroe because traffic backups sometimes made it impossible to get back to town on time to get her children from day care.
“We’ve been kicking that can down the road,” Staneski said about transportation.
She said she plans to “listen, listen, listen.”
“Taxes are too high, there are big issues with Common Core,” she said, explaining that those are some of the big things people were talking about when she went door to door.
She hopes to work with state Sen. Gayle Slossberg on redrafting 8-30g, the state’s affordable housing legislation.
Earlier this year, Slossberg worked to impose a yearlong affordable housing moratorium for Milford until some issues regarding the statute could be studied at the state level.
“No one is against affordable housing,” Staneski said, “but it has to be done right. There are 169 towns and the law is unfairly applied to those that have taken care of their infrastructure.”
Staneski has political experience. She’s served on Milford’s Board of Education and Board of Alderman. In the community, she’s done a number of things, including founding the Milford Prevention Council.
“I did work at United Way as campaign administrative assistant, and more recently I worked (to fill a void) for the Milford Prevention Council. Mostly, though, my work has been volunteer,” Staneski said. “When we moved here over 17 years ago, my husband was doing a major amount of travel for work. We collectively made a decision that I would cover our community, and that is what I did.”
Homework to do
Staneski said she has a lot of homework to do before January.
Fabian said that is one of the things that will make Staneski an effective legislator.
“She’s going to listen to what people want, and she’s going to do her homework to make sure it’s sound, and she’ll be there for Milford residents,” Fabian said.
Dowin agreed that Staneski has what it takes to be effective.
“Her strength is that she defines an issue that has to be improved or corrected and she sticks with it,” Dowin said. “Pam represents the people who live in the community rather than the party. She is a good party person, but she will speak up and speak her own mind. Not a lot of people have the guts to do that.”