Toni Walker To Co-Chair Lamont Transition Team

Markeshia Ricks photoDemocratic Gov.-elect Ned Lamont has tapped a 17-year-veteran of New Haven’s state legislative delegation to help lead his incoming administration’s transition into power.

At a Thursday afternoon press conference held on the steps of the State Capitol in Hartford, Lamont and Democratic Lieutenant Gov.-elect Susan Bysiewicz announced that Democratic New Haven State Rep. Toni Walker will serve as one of the co-chairs of the Lamont administration’s transition team.

Lamont defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski in Tuesday’s general election by over 37,000 votes, almost 25,000 of which came from the Elm City. (New Haven’s final, official vote count is still not known, thanks to myriad problems with the city’s Election Day tallies.)

The transition team that Walker will help co-chair will spend the next 62 days helping Lamont, a Greenwich businessman with little elected political experience, identify candidates for the state government’s many departments, boards, commissions, and agencies. Lamont’s inauguration as Connecticut’s next governor will take place on Jan. 9.

The other co-chairs of the transition team are outgoing state Attorney General George Jepsen, Eastern Connecticut State University Professor Elsa Núñez, and Year Up President Garrett Moran. The transition team’s president is Ryan Drajewicz, a Bridgewater Associates management associate who used to work for former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd.

David Salinas, co-founder of New Haven’s DISTRICT tech hub, was named to serve on Lamont’s business advisory council. David Scheer of the New Haven-based pharmaceutical company Achillion was also named to the business advisory council.

(Click here for a story by Christine Stuart about the full announcement about the transition team.)

Toni Walker, an assistant principal in charge of grant writing and budgeting for New Haven Adult Education, has represented New Haven’s 93rd General Assembly District seat in the state General Assembly since 2001. Her district includes sections of Beaver Hills, West Rock, Dwight, and the Hill.

A 17-year-veteran of the city’s Hartford delegation, Walker currently serves as the House chair of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, which oversees all state financial appropriations and operating budgets. For years, Walker’s co-chair on the committee was then State Sen. and current Mayor Toni Harp.

Walker also serves on the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee, and is the former House chair of the Human Services Committee. She has long worked on issues of juvenile criminal justice reform, helping pass legislation in 2007 that allowed 16 and 17-year-olds to be treated as juveniles in Connecticut courts.

“I’ve had a lot of experience in some of the avenues that I hope will be utilized in this appointment,” Walker said about the knowledge of state government that she will bring to the transition team. “I’ve always been able to sit down and talk with Ned. Every time I’ve worked with him, it’s always been in a collaborative manner. That’s something that Connecticut needs desperately going forward.”

Now that Connecticut Democrats have a supermajority in both the state House and the state Senate, Walker said, she hopes the legislature will not face the same type of partisan gridlock that it faced last session when state Republicans and Democrats each held 18 seats a piece in the state Senate.

That gridlock, she said, put the Medicare Savings Program and the Renters Rebate program for seniors in jeopardy during the crafting of a final state budget, and also led to the shuttering of the state Legislative Commission on Aging. 

“The Medicare Savings Plan and the Renters’ Rebate and the Commission on Aging,” she said, “those were all Democratic initiatives.” She said Connecticut residents should look out for more government action in support of the state’s elderly, youth, and most vulnerable populations now that Democrats are firmly in control of the state legislature.

Walker, a trained social worker who was born in Oklahoma and spent her earliest years in North Carolina, is the daughter of the late reverend and New Haven civil rights leader Edwin “Doc” Edmonds. She and her family fled from North Carolina to New Haven when she was just 5 years old after the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross on her family’s lawn in response to her father organizing voter registration with the NAACP.

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posted by: ElmCityVoice on November 8, 2018  4:06pm

Representative Walker is a perfect choice if the new Governor is looking for political smarts and collaborative efforts.

posted by: 1644 on November 8, 2018  5:16pm

Looks like a hard left turn for Connecticut.  We will have much higher taxes and more high earners leaving.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 8, 2018  6:41pm

Toni Walker Notes:

It is a disgrace that the only time Walker thinks collaboratively is when there’s a super majority of Democrats. Gridlock is caused by people like her who refuse to deal with republicans, refuse to compromise and who thinks the only solution is to tax more, spend more and ignore the financial issues facing this state. It is appropriate that she sits on this transition team - so she can indoctrinate Ned Malloy on how to raise taxes and remind him that the ballott box stuffing operation in New Haven put him in office.

posted by: cunningham on November 9, 2018  12:36pm

CEA: Number of Connecticut millionaires is growing

From 2010 to 2015, there was a 27 percent increase in the number of millionaires in the state, or 11,490 tax filers registering an adjusted gross income of more than $1 million in 2015, an increase of 2,460 tax filers from 2010. The Connecticut-based libertarian think tank Yankee Institute for Public Policy extrapolated data produced by a New York-based conservative think tank last year to reveal Connecticut had the second-lowest percentage growth in millionaires in the nation during that five-year period.

In spite of this, Connecticut has retained its spot among the top states with the highest concentration of millionaires. In 2016, 7.4 percent of Connecticut households were millionaire households, the second-highest concentration of millionaires in the nation, according to HartfordBusiness.com.

“It’s not just the number of millionaires,” Rodriguez said. “In that period, (Connecticut) millionaire wealth increased from $35 billion to $42 billion.”

——

With a few high-profile exceptions, the people leaving Connecticut aren’t the wealthy.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 10, 2018  10:06am

I told you Ned lamont was going to be like Ex mayor Micheal Bloomberg.Notice this.Investment banker with Bridgewater Associates, which is the world’s largest hedge fund, is leading his transition team. Lamont introduced the initial members of his transition team on Thursday. That right. A hedge fund Investment banker.Keep voting them in.

posted by: 1644 on November 10, 2018  12:07pm

Cunningham: First, one would expect the number of millionaires to increase from the very low of 2010 to the not too bad 2015 economy.  Second, I don’t know what significance the absolute number of filers on one side or another of some arbitrary, nominal dollar amount has, third,  third, those high profile cases aren’t millionaires, they were billionaires. Twelve percent of our budget comes from fewer than 400 filers, the really rich rather than the comfortable 12K you speak of.  If we gain three folks each earning $1 million, but lose one earning $5 million, we lose. So, fourth, in large part, it’s the aggregate numbers that matter.  The figures I have seen in Hartford Bus. Journal say there is an aggregate difference of $30K/year in the incomes of leavers versus incomers.  Our high taxes are pushing wealthier folks out, and our high welfare benefits, including Medicaid, are drawing poorer folks in. Yes, it’s not just billionaires that our leaving, its also my four middle class friends, with incomes of $70 to $200K that have gone to lower tax states.
  If we believe in meritocracy, we should have a 100% estate tax.  Yet, because of the large numbers of folks that want to pass wealth to their children, even Matt Ritter wants to repeal our estate tax.  CT is just a large version of New Haven, in that high taxes and high welfare costs can drive the middle and upper classes out.  Unlike New Haven, however, CT cannot rely on outsiders to fund its welfare spending.  Therefore, we need take care not to drive out those who pay more in taxes then they use in services.