New London Democrats to vote in new leader
New London — The city’s Democratic Town Committee will have a new leader by the end of the month.
Martha Marx said she is stepping down as chairperson of the 60-member group to focus on her campaign for the 20th District state Senate seat.
Marx, a mother of four, is a registered nurse with the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern of Connecticut and serves as president of her union. She also recently was elected to a two-year term on the New London City Council, a position she said she would need to give up if elected to the state Senate.
“I give 100% to the things I do. I can’t give it what I need anymore,” Marx said of her role as DTC chairperson. “It’s going to be hard enough to work as a nurse and as a senator. That’s enough."
Marx is seeking the seat held by state Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme. He fended off back-to-back challenges from Marx in 2018 and 2020 but announced he would not be seeking reelection this year. A Republican challenger for Marx has yet to emerge.
Marx took the reins of the DTC from former Chairman Kevin Cavanagh and, if judged by the number of elected Democratic candidates, has been successful in her quest to unify the party. The Democrats are fully in power in New London, with a Democratic mayor and 14 Democrats filling all available seats on the City Council and Board of Education.
In addition to endorsing and supporting local candidates, town committees choose delegates to various conventions.
Marx said she’s satisfied that her goal of unity and diversity has been achieved. One barometer of unity, she said, is the lack of primaries between Democrats.
Former New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, who announced a challenge to Formica in November, bowed out of the Senate race when Marx announced her candidacy. He said at the time that while he was confident of his own candidacy, he thought a primary between two Democrats would serve to benefit the Republican candidate. He said he intended to support Marx in her run for the Senate seat.
The new leader of the DTC will be chosen at a March 22 meeting. The committee is composed of 60 members — 20 people from each of the city’s three voting districts.
A contender for the chairmanship is Zak Leavy, who has not only made his candidacy known among members, but who also has Marx’s endorsement.
Leavy works in Hartford as a lobbyist for labor union AFSCME Council 4 and served as the campaign chairman and later executive assistant to Finizio. Leavy is a former member of the Board of Education and vice chairman of the DTC.
“I know he’s a hard worker," Marx said. "He believes in getting Democrats elected and he has relationships in Hartford that will only benefit New London.”
Leavy, 34, said he’s been a Democrat his entire life and that has guided a lot of his efforts working in union politics. Seeking public office is “the most important thing anyone can do,” he said.
If elected, Leavy said he would help look for candidates who share his own values.
“I'd like to build on the success Martha (Marx) has had ... and I think I can bring organizational skills and make the case to working families that we should continue the path we’re on,” Leavy said. “Getting Martha elected in the fall is priority number one.”
Leavy said the Democratic Party needs to actively represent people from all parts of the city and he plans to be active in that respect.
“I think that Democrats are the party of working families,” he said. “Overall we’re more unified than we’ve ever been. I hope to continue that.”