UPDATE: Comment about Maroney disputed.

Republican Michele Gregorio officially announced her candidacy for the state Senate 14th District seat on Sunday in front of a room full of supporters at the Offshore Restaurant in West Haven.

The district includes Milford, Orange and parts of West Haven and Woodbridge.

Gregorio, who lives in West Haven, filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission in February with the intention of taking on seven-term incumbent Democrat Gayle Slossberg, who has since announced she will not run for re-election.

Since that time Gregorio has been building support for her candidacy, and now that it is an open seat, her determination to win the seat and make a real difference in Hartford remains as strong as ever, states a press release issued Monday announcing her candidacy.

“As many of you know, I have recently retired as controller of the BIC lighter plant in Milford, and you might ask, why step directly out of retirement right into a political campaign. The reasons are clear,” she said. “We have all seen the financial decline of our state made even worse by Malloy policies supported by the majority party in the state legislature. These Hartford politicians failed to understand the impact that two of their largest tax increases would have on us. I would never have supported these tax increases. I would not have voted for our second largest tax increase in 2015, like James Maroney did when he was a state representative.”

A Maroney representative disputed the claim.

"Michelle Gregorio's statement that James Maroney voted for the second largest tax increase in State history is incorrect," wrote John Moffitt. "Ms. Gregorio needs to get her facts straight. James Maroney wasn't even a state Representative in 2015. He didn't vote any tax increase, then or ever."

As controller of BIC’s lighter division, Gregorio said, she managed a $90-million budget, and her responsibilities included union negotiations. She serves on the West Haven Board of Finance and served as chairman of the West Haven Republican Town Committee from 2016 to 2018.  

“We need people in the state Senate who have experience and understand the day-to-day struggle for success, who have worked hard in the real world to achieve for themselves and their families,” she said. “We must return our state to a place where our children and grandchildren can have stable futures. There is a path to better times, but we must act now and elect people who have a range of experience that will enable them to make the correct decisions no matter how difficult they may be.”

Gregorio said that while raising her first child as a single mother, she earned a degree in accounting. Later she married, and while raising five children, graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in health care policy and planning.

Recruited by the Standard Motor Products Corp. as a cost accountant, she was responsible for compliance with government regulations.

Prior to that she was employed by Echlin/Dana as an accountant, when the company closed its headquarters and distribution facility.

“When I was employed by Echlin/Dana as the shut-down accountant, I saw firsthand the impact of a major business leaving Connecticut,” she said. “It was a very sad time to witness a former Fortune 500 corporation reduced to nothing. I became determined to help to prevent such occurrences. We must do more to ease the burden on taxpayers by expanding our business tax base. We must support policies that encourage businesses to stay, and new ones to locate here.”

Several Milford residents have also announced intentions to run for the seat. Republican Pam Staneski, currently state representative of the 119th District, announced she will seek the Republican nomination, as has Alderman Anthony Giannattasio. School advocate Kathy Kennedy also announced a run for the state Senate seat, but later said she will instead seek the Republican nomination for the state representative 119th District seat.

For the Milford Democrats, former state Rep. James Maroney announced his plans to run for the state Senate seat.