AREAWIDE — Democrats Monday nominated Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman to challenge two-term Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook in the 12-town 33rd Senate District.
Needleman, now in a third term as first selectman of Essex, was the unanimous choice of about 50 delegates gathered for the party nominating convention held at Angelico’s Lakehouse in East Hampton. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland , Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.
Linares was first elected in 2012 to the seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote.
Needleman, 64, is a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who has lived in Essex since 1984. He is a founder and owner of Tower Labs, a company that manufactures effervescent products at plants in Clinton and the Centerbrook section of Essex. Needleman was elected to the Essex Board of Selectmen in 2003, and to the position of first selectman in 2011.
Needleman was nominated by Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, who described Needleman as a “special friend,” who offers voters “three in one, a good person, a good businessperson, and a great local town leader.” Bransfield said getting more municipal leaders elected to the General Assembly would “help save Connecticut” friom its current fiscal problems.
There were seconding remarks from Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in a Democratic primary in 2012, former State Rep. Brian O’Connor of Clinton, and 36th District State Representative Phil Miller of Essex, who picked Needleman as his running mate when he served as Essex first selectman from 2003-2011. Miller, who is seeking a third full term this year, described Needleman as “a person who cares for other people and follows through.”
In remarks to the convention, Needleman said small towns like most in the 33rd District are getting hurt as a result of the state’s fiscal problems. Needleman described himself as a “problem solver”, and contended Linares has been “an ineffective legislator who is working on building his own resume and not representing the 33rd District.”