Nolan wins special election for 39th District state House seat

New London — Democrat Anthony Nolan scored a resounding victory on Tuesday in a four-way race for the 39th District state House seat.

Nolan, a four-term city councilor and New London police officer, celebrated the special election win with fellow Democrats at their headquarters on Green Street, sharing hugs and handshakes with well-wishers.

“With all the drama and negativity they put out there ... I really have to tell New London: I love you so much,” Nolan said. “You showed me how much you love me.”

Among those to congratulate Nolan was Chris Soto, the popular former Democratic state representative from New London whose seat in the General Assembly went up for grabs when he took on a job as legislative affairs director for Gov. Ned Lamont. Soto had backed Nolan in the race.

Nolan, 51, ran against fellow Democrat Jason Catala, a petitioning candidate; Republican and Independent Party candidate Kat Goulart, and Green Party member Mirna Martinez. The race was competitive and fast-moving. Candidates had just 46 days to connect with voters, and Democrats got a jump start when party leaders united early on behind Nolan.

Unofficial vote totals show Nolan secured 963 votes compared to Martinez’s 535 votes, Goulart’s 276 votes and Catala’s 102.

The 39th District encompasses the city's first and second voting districts, where there were 13,341 registered voters on election day.

Nolan plans to continue his work as a night shift police officer but will relinquish his council seat.

Nolan is expected to immediately join the fray in Hartford, where the legislative session has started and hundreds of bills are moving through various committees.

State Rep. Joe de la Cruz, D-Groton, whose district covers the southern portion of New London, said Tuesday that the winner should expect to step into a whirlwind of activity in Hartford. In addition to getting up to speed on proposals under discussion, Nolan should be prepared to start fielding calls and emails from constituents, de la Cruz said.

“My first year I felt I was watching a train going by and thinking I should be on it. It is fast and it is furious,” de la Cruz said. “My best advice is to listen to your colleagues. It’s a good way to get up to speed.”

De la Cruz endorsed Nolan but said prior to the results of Tuesday's election that he was looking forward to working with any of the candidates.

“Whoever wins will have my cellphone number that day,” de la Cruz said.

Nolan responded by email to the criticism from Day columnists about his “nothing” response to a debate question about how he would respond to frustrated Republicans whose calls for reducing the size of government and cutting taxes are ignored by the Democrats.

“Many naysayers of all parties offer criticism rather than solutions,” Nolan said. “Frankly, shrinking the size of government is not in the best interest of New London. We want more state aid, not less. We want more investment in State Pier, not less. And we want more funding for the overburdened social services we provide, not less.”

“As state representative, I will have an open door to all of my constituents to hear their concerns. In seven years on City Council, I’ve never seen any evidence how shrinking the state government does anything except hurt New London,” he said.

g.smith@theday.com

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