Milford Alderman Bryan Anderson to challenge DeLauro in 3rd District

Democrat Bryan Anderson, 62, a Milford alderman and currently a public school teacher in the Bronx, has made a decision to run for the seat in Connecticut's 3rd Congressional District long held by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, also a Democrat.

The decision, Anderson said, has more to do with change than with unseating an incumbent and a fellow Democrat.

“Whether Rosa runs again or not is not a consideration for me,” Anderson said. “We’re in a time of transition, in society and government. The average person is tired of the lack of solutions. They want to see some change.”

DeLauro is indeed running for re-election, seeking her 15th term, according to her campaign manager Jimmy Tickey.

“Rosa is totally focused on defeating the dangerous forces at work in Washington DC.,” Tickey said.

Anderson, a former New Haven aldermen, has already gotten a seeming nod from a longtime New Haven journalist, Paul Bass, who wrote in the New Haven Independent on Sunday that Anderson’s bid marks a real challenge for DeLauro.

“After 27 years as New Haven’s most formidable elected officeholder, Rosa DeLauro is facing her first challenge from an experienced pol within her own party — who seeks to outflank her on the left on health care,” Bass wrote.

Anderson announced his candidacy Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on the steps of Milford City Hall.

Anderson grew up as a typical American in many ways and atypical in others: He’s held government jobs, and he’s sold real estate. He sees himself as a peacemaker on Milford’s Board of Aldermen, one who vigilantly represents the needs of his constituents, so he believes he knows what it will take to bring the kind of change this district wants to see at the federal level.

He was born into subsidized housing in the West Hills neighborhood of New Haven and now owns a home in Milford. It wasn’t poverty that placed the family in subsidized housing: It housed veterans returning from World War II, and Anderson’s father served in the Philippines and Guam.

The family moved from New Haven to Hamden, where Anderson grew up. “It’s the typical American story,” Anderson said, describing a life of working hard and reaching for success. “We were always middle class.”

He studied political science and drama at the University of Connecticut, and worked for the state Senate as a special assistant to the deputy majority leader. He worked in advertising, was campaign manager for former Republican U.S. Rep. Larry DeNardis; he worked as housing director for the City of New Haven, and as Hamden’s economic development director. He served on former Gov. Lowell Weicker’s campaign, and then helped people with substance abuse problems as a staffer at the Elm Haven Resident Council in New Haven. Later, he spent five years selling real estate with Prudential Realty before being accepted into Fordham University’s graduate school of education, which led to his current job as a special education teacher in the Bronx. A teacher for the last 15 years, he plans to retire in November.

“From Casa Otońal and Columbus West to Shubert Theatre and Union Station in New Haven, Bryan made his imprint in obtaining federal funds to support these and other projects,” he wrote in a campaign announcement. “In Hamden, Bryan's leadership led to the creation of the Hamden Public Library building, Marketplace of Hamden, Aspen Glen and Towne Walk of Hamden Hills. Bryan has worked for the Congressional Clearinghouse on Women's Rights, the White House, the United States Senate and U.S. House, and the Connecticut State Senate.”

He said his biggest impact so far has been as a teacher.

“That is the primary reason I am running for Congress,” he wrote in a campaign letter to friends and family, “to make a difference for young people and their families.”

A community and political activist from a young age, Anderson said he holds the distinction of being elected to local public office in Hamden, New Haven and Milford — each win made history and broke records, he said: He was only 18 when he was elected a constable in Hamden, and he said he quietly became Milford’s first African American alderman in 2011, a first that Democratic Town Committee Chairman Rich Smith is working to verify. He said he also identifies as LGBT.

If elected to Congress, Anderson said he will fight hard for Health Care for All, ending the war in Afghanistan, and for federal support for this region, including job creation, public infrastructure funds, and unraveling a transportation system that fails commuters every day.

He understands the transportation woes personally: He drives I-95 each day to his job in the Bronx.

A strong proponent of public housing, Anderson said he helped New Haven residents, particularly Dixwell residents, “overcome the scourge of drug addiction, assisted young mothers and their children in strengthening their family bonds, and was an adoption advocate for childless individuals and couples.”

He said he has worked with many people who have been marginalized within society and need a leg up.

He argues that with someone like DeLauro in office for so many years, some doors are open and some are closed, and the issues behind those closed doors won’t be visited unless there’s someone new knocking.

He said people tell him that he understands what they are going through.

“I like to think I bring different gifts,” Anderson said.