Bumgardner appointed to vacant Groton Town Council seat

In this June 2015 file photo, Rep. Aundre Bumgardner (R) 41st District, right, talks with Rep. Kevin Ryan, (D) 139th District, in the House chambers of the state capitol in Hartford. Bumgardner in June 2018 was appointed to a vacant Groton Town Council seat. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
In this June 2015 file photo, Rep. Aundre Bumgardner (R) 41st District, right, talks with Rep. Kevin Ryan, (D) 139th District, in the House chambers of the state capitol in Hartford. Bumgardner in June 2018 was appointed to a vacant Groton Town Council seat. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Groton — Aundre Bumgardner will fill the Groton Town Council seat vacated by Rich Moravsik, who in 2016 filled a council seat vacated by Joe de la Cruz, who gave up his seat after getting elected to the 41st House District over Bumgardner.

The council voted 7-1 on Tuesday evening to appoint Bumgardner to the seat vacated three weeks ago by Moravsik, who is moving to Florida.

Asked about his priorities in a phone conversation after the meeting, Bumgardner said, "I think the one thing that's sort of overlooked within Groton is the millennial generation." Bumgardner, 23, added, "If you were to ask a lot of young people, they'll tell you Groton isn't necessarily the most friendly to young people in terms of having options to eat out and walk around."

The lone vote against Bumgardner's appointment was Lian Obrey, who said her opposition was not about the person but about the process.

Also unhappy with the process was Portia Bordelon, a Representative Town Meeting member who expressed interest in the seat to the Groton Democratic Town Committee following Moravsik's resignation.

Bordelon's concerns were that there was no interview, the selection process was not transparent and the council didn't acknowledge her in its brief deliberations on Tuesday.

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Conrad Heede was thrilled with how many people expressed interest in the seat. The committee voted 21-17 in favor of recommending Bordelon to fill the vacancy, with the other 17 votes going to Cutter Oliver.

But a few councilors reached out to Bumgardner, and they discussed his appointment at a caucus meeting this past weekend.

Heede and Mayor Patrice Granatosky agreed that Bumgardner's experience in Hartford was an important factor.

Bumgardner's appointment was not on Tuesday's agenda but members unanimously voted to suspend the rules to take up the appointment.

Rita Schmidt nominated Bumgardner, saying that he has gained valuable knowledge of Groton's needs and works well with both sides of the aisle. Without any further discussion, the council approved his appointment.

Bumgardner served as a Republican in the state House of Representatives from 2015 through 2016. He switched to the Democratic Party in August 2017 and became campaign treasurer for de la Cruz.

Bumgardner is wrapping up his studies in political science at Three Rivers Community College and plans to pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Connecticut. He also works part-time at Norwich Community Development Corporation in Norwich.

e.moser@theday.com

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