De la Cruz ousts Bumgardner in District 41

Democratic legislative candidates Joe de la Cruz, left, and Christine Conley embrace as results come in at the Groton Democratic headquarters on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Peter Huoppi/The Day)
Democratic legislative candidates Joe de la Cruz, left, and Christine Conley embrace as results come in at the Groton Democratic headquarters on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Peter Huoppi/The Day)

Groton — Democratic challenger Joseph de la Cruz on Tuesday ousted Republican incumbent Aundré Bumgardner from his state representative seat in the 41st House District.

De la Cruz received 4,936 votes, while Bumgardner received 4,130. Absentee ballot results were not yet available.

"I feel good," de la Cruz said. "I am excited. It was a lot of work. I did 500 miles on a scooter this summer. A borrowed scooter. I've got to pay the girl back that I borrowed the scooter from."

De la Cruz, 45, a member of the Groton Town Council, ran on a platform of understanding the plight of struggling, working families.

"Everything I've done, I've started at the bottom," he said during the campaign. De la Cruz, who lives in Groton, grew up in the housing projects of New London, worked two jobs and climbed from welder to manager of Hillery Company, a custom metal fabrication shop.

He and his wife, Tammy, founded Community Speaks Out, an organization focused on getting substance abuse treatment for people struggling with addiction.

Bumgardner, 22, known for his relentless door knocking and conversations with constituents, focused on the need for budget reform in the state and the experience he'd gained during his first term on the legislature. The Groton resident was elected in 2014 at age 20, becoming the youngest member of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Bumgardner also revealed during the campaign that he had been diagnosed with a tumor under his skull last year. During the illness, he underwent surgery, had the growth removed and maintained a perfect voting attendance record.

Both candidates expressed their respect for one another even as they disagreed, in contrast with other races.

Bumgardner argued that state taxes are "out of control" and the business climate needs reform. General Electric's decision to leave Connecticut represented a substantial loss, he said.

De la Cruz said he was shaken by an Appropriations Committee proposal last spring to cut $4.56 million in state education funding to Groton. Although most of the cut was later rescinded, de la Cruz said it demonstrated that the budget discussion must change.

The 41st District comprises parts of Groton and New London.

d.straszheim@theday.com

Candidates for the 41st District seat, Democrat Joe de la Cruz, left, and Republican Aundré Bumgardner, right, share a laugh as they speak with voter Sam Linder, center, outside the polling location at Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School in New London on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.    (Tim Cook/The Day)
Candidates for the 41st District seat, Democrat Joe de la Cruz, left, and Republican Aundré Bumgardner, right, share a laugh as they speak with voter Sam Linder, center, outside the polling location at Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School in New London on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Tim Cook/The Day)

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments