Soto to resign as state representative, accepts job with Lamont administration

State Rep. Chris Soto, D-New London, who ran unopposed in the November election to secure a second term, is resigning to take a position with the administration of Gov.-elect Ned Lamont.

Soto, 37, announced Wednesday he had accepted the position as legislative affairs director. He will oversee Lamont’s legislative affairs in both chambers and advise Lamont on pending legislation.

“I am honored to answer the call from Governor-elect Lamont,” Soto said. “On the campaign trail, he outlined his policy priorities to improve the lives of Connecticut residents. I look forward to working with both sides of the aisle in the legislature to move the state forward.”

The impending vacancy of the 39th District House seat, which covers Districts 1 and 2 in New London, will trigger a special election. State statute dictates that once Soto notifies the secretary of the state of his resignation, the governor will order the special election. The election would take place 46 days later.   

New London Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Martha Marx said Democratic party leaders will come together to nominate a candidate. She said Soto’s new position bodes well for the city despite the fact that he will be tough to replace.

“We now have a strong voice from New London in Ned Lamont’s administration. That’s fantastic,” she said. “I can’t think of anybody better I’d like to have up there.”

Marx, who ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat, lives in the city's third district and is not eligible to run for the seat.

Soto will complete his current term as a state representative but is expected to resign his member-elect status and will not be sworn in to a new term in the House of Representatives in January. 

Lamont will be sworn in in early January.

Democratic leaders, Marx said, have a short list of replacement candidates but will ultimately seek someone with “strong Democratic values,” and 40 committee members in Districts 1 and 2 will vote on a nominee.

Republicans tried but were unsuccessful in finding a challenger for Soto in the November election. New London Republican Town Committee Chairman Rob Pero said Wednesday there is a strong likelihood of a Republican candidate this time around.

“Chris was a formidable opponent and not someone a lot of people were thrilled about taking on,” Pero said. “This definitely presents an opportunity for someone with a compelling argument that resonates with the people … and who works hard.”

Soto was one of three senior personnel appointments to the Lamont administration announced on Wednesday. Marc Bradley was named as the external and constituent affairs director and Maribel La Luz as director of communications.

Bradley will lead outreach to constituents across the state, including community leaders and local elected officials. La Luz will direct media strategy across executive branch agencies, and serve as the governor’s lead spokesman.

“Marc, Maribel and Chris will have key roles in ensuring my office is accessible to people across the state of Connecticut — from constituents to local leaders, media, businesses and the legislature. I’m excited for them to be an integral part of my team,” Lamont said in a statement.

Bradley was Lamont’s campaign manager in the election and served as a senior advisor for Lamont during his U.S. Senate campaign. La Luz serves as the director of communications for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities . She previously worked as the vice president of communications for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Washington-based national organization that promotes the development of Hispanic small businesses.

Soto served as the House vice-chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He founded and served as executive director of Higher Edge, a New London-based nonprofit that guides low-income and first-generation students into and through college.

Soto has a bachelor’s degree in operations research from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Brown University.

“It has been an honor to serve New London as state representative these past two years. And now the time has come to answer the call once again, this time for Governor-elect Ned Lamont's Administration," said Soto, who announced the news on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.

He said the new role was not something he could have foreseen but thinks it’s “a great fit.”

“I wouldn’t have considered resigning if I didn’t think this was something positive for New London,” Soto said. “I was really invested in doing the best I could for the district. It was a tough decision to consider.”

Soto credited his supporters with his success and said, “I will continue making New London and our state proud.”

As a state representative, Soto said was earning $28,000 annually with a $4,000 annual stipend. His new salary was not immediately available. Soto said he was given a range when he was offered the position.

g.smith@theday.com

 

 

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