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Norwich Democratic state Rep. Emmett Riley not running for reelection

Norwich — Five-term incumbent state Rep. Emmett Riley will not seek reelection, and Norwich Alderman Derell Wilson announced Friday that he will run for the district seat that encompasses the urban and southern sections of the city.

Wilson, 30, lead paraeducator at the Integrated Day Charter School in Norwich, said he discussed a possible run with several people this week after Riley informed the Democratic Town Committee in April that he decided not to run again. Wilson chairs the Norwich DTC.

Riley has held the 46th District seat for the past 10 years, succeeding his wife, Melissa Olson, who had represented the district for the previous 10 years.

“I’m excited,” Wilson said. “I think Melissa and Emmett have represented the 46th District over their terms, and I want to continue to be a voice for our community, and more importantly, the future voice for what Norwich needs to rise to the level it will take to be successful. I understand what it needs by serving on the City Council and by listening to the needs of the people.”

Riley said Friday it was time to step aside after 10 arduous years in the General Assembly. He said the first vote he cast was for the state's historic gun control law following the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School murders. He said he was proud to have boosted aid for Norwich and to have voted for the family leave medical bill and to increase the state minimum wage.

Riley thanked his family and supporters, and while not ruling out a future run in politics, he wants to spend time with his 7½-year-old son.

"I have great affection for the city of Norwich and all its residents," Riley wrote in a letter to the Democratic Town Committee, "and it has been my greatest honor to represent the Rose City in the Connecticut General Assembly."

Because the 46th District is a single-town district, the local party town committees meet to endorse candidates. The Democratic Town Committee will meet May 19 at 7 p.m. at City Hall to endorse a candidate for the 46th District.

Republican Robert Bell, 48, a Navy veteran and owner of Bell Logistics LLC property management firm in Norwich, has announced his plan to run for the 46th House District. Bell ran unsuccessfully against Riley in 2019 and narrowly lost last November in his campaign for City Council.

The Republican Town Committee will meet at 7 p.m. on May 18 at City Hall to endorse a candidate.

Wilson was elected to the City Council in 2019 and reelected in 2021. At age 25 in 2017, Wilson ran unsuccessfully for mayor against current incumbent Republican Peter Nystrom. He grew up in Greeneville and was active in the Norwich NAACP Youth Council growing up.

If he is elected to the state legislature, Wilson would have to give up his City Council seat, due to a city charter provision prohibiting someone from holding the two positions.

c.bessette@theday.com

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