Martinez expected to run for Soto's state rep seat

New London – School board member Mirna Martinez has emerged as the Green Party’s likely candidate in the race to fill the soon-to-be vacated 39th District state representative seat.

Martinez’s candidacy received overwhelming support from fellow Greens and she is not expected to be challenged for the formal nomination at an upcoming convention, said New London Green Party Chairwoman Ronna Stuller.

“She is excited at the thought of taking it on. Her energy level and tenaciousness and creativity in the ability to move ideas forward are pretty impressive,” Stuller said.

Stuller expects Martinez will be a candidate who attracts support across party lines. 

Martinez would be seeking the state House of Representatives seat now held by state Rep. Chris Soto, D-New London.

Soto has taken a job as the legislative affairs director with the Gov.-elect Ned Lamont's administration and plans to resign on Wednesday. A special election is likely to be held at a yet-to-be scheduled date at the end of February. The 39th District encompasses the city’s first and second voting districts.

Soto and leaders in the Democratic Party last month announced support for City Councilor Anthony Nolan, a city police officer, to fill the seat. At least two Republicans, Kat Goulart and Susan Gorra, have expressed interest in seeking the Republican nomination. There are no official candidates until Soto has resigned and candidates file the appropriate paperwork with the Secretary of the State’s Office.

At the last election there were 16,236 registered voters in the city with Democrats nearly equaling the combined number of unaffiliated and Republicans voters and just 215 voters registered in other parties such as the Greens.

“From a party point of view we know there are a lot of challenges,” Stuller said. “I think that Mirna is a better candidate than anyone, just based on personal attributes and taking out of the equation relative party power.”

Martinez, 46, is a mother of two and former bilingual teacher who is serving her third term as a member of the Board of Education. She served as the board’s president for the past year.

Martinez said she’d never given a run at state office much thought but the seed of the idea germinated this summer during a meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

She said she was one of five representatives from Connecticut at the gathering and the only school board member - the others were state representatives. She said she was reminded of the integral role and importance of education in public policy and society as a whole.

“I have experience being in a position of elected office and working on policy and I know I have something to contribute,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she will seek support, take advice and “listen to people’s needs,” regardless of party. She said her work ethic, dedication and “ability to grasp issues and come up with solutions,” have positioned her for this run at office.

Stuller said with an opportunity for public debate on issues, the special election is shaping up to be “a bit more interesting than November as far as giving people a chance to see a range of different candidates.”

Soto was unchallenged in his run for a second term.

Democrats, Republicans and Greens have scheduled tentative dates for nominating conventions. There is also the possibility of a petitioning candidate emerging.

g.smith@theday.com

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