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Dispute alive, Young will join House of Reps

January 8, 2019

Phil Young of Stratford will be sworn-in to represent the town’s 120th District on Wednesday. But if a planned committee later decides the contested election should be tossed out, the Democrat’s tenure in the state House of Representatives could be brief.

During the opening minutes of the General Assembly session Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter will put forward a resolution forming a committee to review the contested November election, which Young won by 13 votes amid charges that 76 voters from a multi-district polling place were disenfranchised.

Young was certified the winner of the election over Republican Jim Feehan and the state Supreme Court ruled that the House of Representatives has to decide whether the results stand. The new Committee on Contested Elections will have until Feb. 4 to report on its review.

The committee will have subpoena power and staff through the Committee on Legislative Management to conduct its inquiry and write up recommendations, which could lead to a special election. The last time a similar committee was formed was back in 1985, and the Democratic winner, now longtime state Sen. Joan Hartley of Waterbury, was allowed to keep her House seat.

“The last committee took 10 days of testimony, so it’s going to be fairly involved,” Young said Tuesday afternoon. “If they decide on a new election, they decide on a new election. But I am looking forward to my committees and the session going forward.” Young was named vice chairman of the Public Health Committee.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said the issue remains open. “In my mind, it’s not closed at all,” she told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday. “It shouldn’t be closed in anybody’s mind in this state because (76) people in that race did not get to vote for one person or the other. Their ability to vote was denied them. You want to talk about voters being disenfranchised? We hear that phrase all over the place, but somehow because it happened in a suburb, nobody seems to care about it. It’s a big deal. Since that race was only decided by a handful of votes in the first place, it matters.”

Staff writer Emilie Munson contributed to this story

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