You are currently viewing The Day – Formica announces that he will not be seeking re-election to the State Senate.

The Day – Formica announces that he will not be seeking re-election to the State Senate.

State Senator Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, announced on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election to the state Senate and would retire from public office after a 31-year run that left him drove from East Lyme Town Hall to Hartford.

“It has been one of the great honors of my life to be able to serve the city of East Lyme and the great 20th district for all these years,” the acting Senate Republican leader told The Day on Tuesday.

Formica said he has no plans to run for another elected office or return to local politics.

“I loved my time at East Lyme; it was one of the highlights of my life, as was the Senate,” he said. “But 31 is a great ride and I couldn’t be more grateful and proud of what I’ve been able to do.”

Formica, 68, said he was looking forward to completing his term with a “strong and successful session”. Beyond that, he chose the birth of his first grandchild this month as a sign of what his future looks like.

“I’m excited for everything the next chapter will bring,” he said.

Formica is a widower and has four grown children, three daughters and a son, according to his state senate biography. East Lyme’s first longtime coach and Flanders Fish Market restaurateur was elected in 2014 to his first term as a state senator, becoming the first Republican elected to serve the 20th district since 1990. The district encompasses Bozrah, East Lyme, part of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, part of Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Formica began his career as an elected official on the East Lyme Zoning Commission in 1991, when frustration over a new zoning bylaw led him to become involved in politics. He then served as Republican City Committee Chairman, Finance Council Member, and First Councilor for more than seven years before being elected as a state senator.

He also ran for Congress in 2012, when he challenged incumbent U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who won reelection.

Formica detailed its decision to retire in a press release Tuesday.

“For the past few months I have felt a pull for a new season,” he wrote. “It has been an empowering process because I have been deeply blessed, grateful and proud of the season I am currently in. I have decided to embrace this new season and therefore I will not be seeking re-election to the Senate of state in November of 2022.”

He called his 31 years of public service ‘one of the greatest honours’ of his life, but said he felt ‘it’s time for me to retire and move on to next season’ .

He cited several accomplishments, from revitalizing Niantic’s main street to preserving open spaces as the first councilor in East Lyme. As a state senator, he named accomplishments that include being “a leader in the fight to secure the next decade of Connecticut’s carbon-free baseload energy supply at Millstone Station,” and helping to develop in 2017 “a true bipartisan budget” as co-chair of the Appropriations Committee.

In the statement, he noted that it has been an honor to work with other lawmakers and lead “the Senate Republican team.”

“The most rewarding aspect of my elected service has been the honor and pleasure of meeting and serving so many wonderful and passionate people from the 20th District and across our great state,” he added.

Formica said he was “especially grateful to my business family, the incredible team at my city and state staff and especially my family.”

“I look forward to spending more time with my family, my business, maybe new hobbies, and starting a new season with my special love,” he added in the press release. “There is a bright future ahead of this state and this district. I believed in it 31 years ago and believe it even more today. Thank you for the honor of serving the communities that are so dear to me.”

Hailed for its bipartisanship

Former East Lyme first manager Mark Nickerson described himself as delighted that Formica “chose to put themselves and their family first”.

Nickerson was selected as Formica’s replacement in 2015 and went on to successfully run for the seat three times before making his own announcement that he would not run again until the 2021 municipal elections.

“Take that from a guy who left while he was at the top, who said ‘this has been an amazing opportunity and I’ve done everything I can and I have to put my family first and me- even first,'” he said. “And also, he’s just coming for a while.”

Nickerson called Formica “a great example of a gentleman” in his personal and political life. “In politics, he did it the right way. He worked with everyone. He worked across party lines. He is an example that other politicians should use on how to conduct themselves,” Nickerson said. “A lot of people should follow his example.”

State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, who served on the East Lyme board of directors with Formica for three terms, said Tuesday she was saddened to hear that the state senator will not would show up again.

“He dedicated 31 years of his life to public service, beginning with his time with the zoning commission in East Lyme,” Cheeseman said. “I never doubted his integrity, his work ethic, his true decency as a man and a friend. From that perspective, I think it’s a great loss not only for the citizens of our district, but for the State of Connecticut.

She said she hoped the Formica replacement would bring “the same spirit of true bipartisanship” and “the same ethical underpinning.”

Democratic state senate candidate Daryl Justin Finizio released a statement Tuesday night thanking Formica for its services. Finizio reiterated, such as when he announced his campaign to run for the 20th District seat, that he “does not seek this office to challenge any person or party, but to advance ideas that are in the best interests of all the inhabitants of this district.

In his statement, Finizio said people deserve health care as a human right and the need to continue to diversify the “labour market, support small businesses, expand green energy jobs and ‘raise the wages of all workers’, and to rely less on regressive taxation.

“I look forward to debating all of these issues as the campaign progresses, but for tonight I just want to say, as I said three months ago; Paul Formica is a good man with a beautiful family,” said Finizio. “I wish the best to Paul and his family.”

“Paul embodies everything that makes an incredible public servant,” Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said in a statement Tuesday night. “He brings people together. He listens to all ideas and points of view.” He noted Formica’s role on the Appropriations Committee that “produced the first bipartisan budget in years that created the state’s record Rainy Day Fund surpluses today and historic investments in the repayment of Connecticut’s pension debt”.

Formica “is practical, hardworking and cares deeply about our state and its people. From running a town, running a restaurant, being an amazing father and now a grandfather, Paul is someone ‘one you can always count on to bring dedication and love to all that he does,’ Kelly continued. “Thirty-one years of elected public service takes so much from an individual and their family and Paul’s commitment is unparalleled.”

Calling Formica an “advocate for people with disabilities, children, the environment, tourism and every major street in Connecticut, as well as job creators and families in our state,” Kelly said, “it has been an honor to serve with Paul in the Senate, and more recently to serve side by side with Paul as my deputy. As a leader, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner and friend.

State Senator Norm Needleman, D-Essex, said he and Formica have been good friends for a long time, and although he represents opposing political parties, he said the loss of Formica was a blow to the State Senate.

“His presence in the Senate and in the Republican caucus has been excellent. As a friend, I’m sad to see him go, but happy for him if that’s what he wants,” Needleman said. “I’m actually a few years older than him, so these are tough decisions. Paul and I have had a similar journey in life, through business and public service. He told me today that ‘He was involved for about 31 years, and it made me think, I’ve been around the same amount of time.

Needleman went on to praise Formica’s work on the energy committee. He called the outgoing senator a “true statesman” and lamented the lack of more moderate politicians in today’s General Assembly.

“Paul is also a statesman in that he has tried to balance the interests of his party with the interests of good public policy, and I have to tell you, it’s not easy,” said Needleman. “It’s getting harder and harder as the ideologues start to get heavier hands. … You are losing good people, it is very difficult to replace them, and you have political ideologues jumping into the fray.”

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