NEW LONDON — Democrat Martha Marx announced Thursday night that she will run for state senator in the 20th district, a seat long held by Republican Sen. Paul Formica who is not running for reelection.
Marx ran against Formica in 2018 and 2020, narrowly losing the elections by 1,581 and 1,175 votes respectively. She said she had no hesitation about starting a new campaign after she heard that Formica was stepping down.
“It took me about 30 seconds to decide I was running,” she told CT Examiner by phone Thursday evening.
She said she will blaze her own path as a candidate in this election, using her experience as a long-time nurse and union leader to represent working class people.
“I think we need working class people in the legislature who truly understand what it’s like to not always be able to pay their bills,” she said.
Marx has been a nurse for 37 years. She is the mother of four children ages 27 to 33 and said she has one grandchild on the way. She grew up in Waterford and moved to New London to raise her family 33 years ago.
She is in her second term as a city councilor in New London and serves as chair of the council’s Public Welfare Committee. She is chair of the New London Democratic Town Committee and president of her union, AFT Local 5119 VNA SC Registered Nurses and Home Health Aides.
In the last election, Marx sparred with Formica about a 2017 power purchase agreement that prevented Millstone from closing. Formica supported the agreement but Marx said she wanted to see more transparency about the deal and more protection for ratepayers.
Marx told CT Examiner that her concern about Millstone and energy companies was similar to the relationship between public health and insurance companies in Hartford in that the energy sector often helps big business rather than working class people.
“It was just that Millstone was going to get the good end of the deal. I truly think that governments have to look out for the people when it comes to anything with energy because we don’t have the lobbyists — same with insurance companies with hospitals and pharmaceutical companies — we need the government to help working class people.”
In this campaign, Marx said that while energy issues were important, she was not going to attempt to duplicate Formica’s role in forming energy policy.
“As a nurse with public health issues and labor issues, insurance and hospital issues, I have different strengths than Sen. Formica had,” she said. “I’m not here to run in Formica’s footsteps and I think after a two-year pandemic we all realize how important it is to have doctors, nurses and health care professionals who truly understand public health serving in our legislature.”
She said she will continue to work as a nurse and will bring her knowledge of the healthcare system to her role as state senator.
“I know where our strengths and weaknesses are in the healthcare system, which is as important as energy is,” she said.
In her last campaign, Marx said she supported raising taxes on those who earn $1 million a year or more, an idea she said she will stand behind in her 2022 campaign.
“Right now we see that the working class people — nurses, teachers, police officers — are exhausted, they’re tired. They’re doing physical work in an atmosphere that is risky. I will always, always fight for the working class,” she said. “Hats off to the people that make a million dollars. I’m sure a lot of it was luck and a lot of it was privilege, but they should pay their fair share.”
Marx said affordable housing was a key issue but her approach was to support programs that help people of lesser incomes buy their own homes as a path toward equity.
“Home ownership is one of the first pathways to equalizing equity among people. Wage inequality is still there — the difference in what women and women of color get paid compared to men is huge. The pandemic has just shown how outrageous the inequity is. We can all talk about it but I don’t see a lot of things that have really been done to help it. I just think home ownership is just one of the best ways to just raise up the working class.”
When asked how her campaign will be different from Democrat and former New London mayor Daryl Finizio, who announced his campaign for Formica’s seat last November, Marx did not name specific issues but emphasized that she is a loyal and well-known Democrat who has campaigned heavily in the districts.
“The DTCs know me. I earned 25,000 votes in the last election. And I’m a Democrat — a loyal Democrat who has worked tirelessly to elect Democrats across the state,” she said.
Marx said as a state senator, she will always fight for working families, women of color and the LGBTQ community as well as advocate for public health issues.
“I make a little bit of difference being a nurse and make a little bit of a difference being union leader and make a little bit of a difference being city councilor,” she said. “I really hope that as a state senator, I can truly make a bigger difference. That’s really what I want to do.”