Needleman, Ziobron run for 33rd District state Senate seat

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, a Democrat, and State Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, announced that they are running for election to the 33rd State Senate District. The district covers Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and a portion of Old Saybrook.

State Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook, who currently holds the seat, is not seeking re-election and has announced his candidacy for state treasurer.

“Leading a small town and building a business taught me that the best way to get things done is to put people and their needs ahead of party politics,” Needleman said late Monday in a statement announcing his candidacy. “I respect taxpayers’ dollars because I know how hard you’ve worked to earn them. That’s why as First Selectman, I brought Democrats and Republicans together, found consensus, solved problems, and kept property taxes among the lowest in the state without cutting services. If elected State Senator for the 33rd District, I will make a clean break from the decades of bickering and harmful policies that have come from Hartford, and I will get Connecticut working for the towns in our district."

Needleman, who is in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman and ran for the Senate seat in 2016, also has served as Essex selectman, a Zoning Board of Appeals member and Economic Development Commission member, according to a news release. He founded Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing company that now employs more than 250 people, and serves as a board member on Valley Shore Emergency Communications and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.

Ziobron is serving her third term as state representative for East Hampton, East Haddam and part of Colchester. She is the ranking member on the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee and served in the last session as assistant minority leader. She began her public service career volunteering in the community and previously served as president of Friends of Gillette Castle State Park, mentored students and was an economic development coordinator and local elected official, according to her biography.

In a message to supporters on Tuesday, Ziobron announced a "change in course" that she is running for state Senate, rather than for re-election as state representative. She said she could "help more people in our state in service as your State Senator."

"We need a strong voice in the State Senate who: 1) is a proven fighter and has a reputation for putting their constituents first, fighting full-time for their small town communities, and 2) can immediately and effectively navigate the difficult legislative landscape, with the proven and dedicated commitment needed to focus on the budget, and 3) fights for fiscally conservative policies and has a record of implementing them, with bipartisan support, at the Capitol," Ziobron wrote.

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