Former alderman tapped as mayor’s assistant

Justin Rosen, Mayor Ben Blake’s new mayoral assistant, is no stranger to Milford or local politics. Rosen grew up in Milford and 10 years ago, when he was just 21, he served on Milford’s Board of Aldermen.

Rosen, now 31, took on the job of mayoral assistant Monday, Jan. 7, replacing Steve Fournier, who retired.

Rosen, a graduate of Foran High School and the University of Connecticut, where he studied political science, got a very early start in politics. He was just a teenager when he and friends Alex Armstrong and Mike Smith started working on political campaigns, including Blake’s and former state Representative Paul Davis. When he was younger, he also interned with former Speaker of the House James Amann.

“I always loved politics,” Rosen said.

Rosen, a Democrat, was named to the Board of Aldermen in 2009 to fill the unexpired term of Democrat Barbara Lambert, representing the second district. He ran for the seat in the next election, but did not win. But no worries there, he was almost immediately tapped to continue in the political arena, working for the Connecticut General Assembly as a legislative aide, clerk of the Banks Committee and policy analyst for then Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan. When Donovan retired, Rosen moved to Washington, D.C., sort of a dream of his, to try to find a job working in health policy. He was almost ready to give up when he took a stopgap job as a consultant for a grassroots company, and then he secured a job he loved: Working for the American College of Surgeons as an advocate on the state level and a lobbyist on the federal level.

“My policy issues were trauma care, opioids and pediatrics,” Rosen said. The job brought him into the mix of government policies, where he monitored legislative proposals and worked to make sure the views of the American College of Surgeons were taken into account.

He’d been doing that for about five years.

“And then out of the blue Mayor Blake called and said there would be a vacancy here and would I be interested in interviewing,” Rosen said. “It seemed like a perfect fit.”

Taking the job was a big move, all the way from Washington, D.C., and from a job he really enjoyed. So it wasn’t a completely easy decision.

But Rosen said that if he harbored any doubts they disappeared the minute he walked into City Hall on his first day of work.

Mayor Blake said Rosen’s experience working with state and federal officials will be a great asset on the job, as will knowing Milford as a man born and raised here.

“He’s a fresh face for the day to day and long term planning,” Blake said. “He is a lifelong Milford native, so he knows the city inside and out.

Blake said that in addition to other tasks, Rosen will field calls from residents who often have questions about things happening in their neighborhoods.

“You have to understand the character of the neighborhood to understand the underlying issues,” Blake said, adding that Rosen understands those underlying issues.

For Rosen, the move brought him back to his roots and a city he loves.

“It’s amazing to be home,” Rosen said.