GROTON — Democrat Aundré Bumgardner announced today that he will run for state representative of the recently revised 41st district seat, vacated by incumbent Democrat Joe de la Cruz.
On Feb. 10, 2022, the state announced new congressional district boundaries, which will remove portions of New London and add parts of Stonington to the 41st.
Bumgardner, who has held a variety of offices at the state and local levels, said he would focus on the “five E’s”: economic recovery, environmental quality, educational excellence, energy affordability and ethics reform.
“In the time I’ve spent door to door listening to voters in my successful runs for council, runs for the state house and running for mayor of the City of Groton, time and time again, those were really the five issues that resonate with Groton voters and in my conversations with many Stonington residents in past few days,” said Bumgardner.
In 2014, he ran as a Republican for the 41st seat, defeating incumbent Democrat Elissa T. Wright with 50.3 percent of the vote. Bumgardner was sworn in at the age of 20 as the youngest state representative in Connecticut history, but was defeated in 2016 by de la Cruz.
In 2018, Bumgardner announced his departure from the Republican party, and that he would be joining the Democratic party, in the aftermath of the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Since 2018, he has served on the Groton Town Council and is a member of the Groton City Planning and Zoning Commission.
A primary challenge in 2021, against incumbent Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick, a Democrat, was successful but Bumgardner lost after Hedrick waged a write-in candidacy in the general election.
The defining issue of his lifetime
The defining issue of his lifetime, Bumgardner said, is how local, state and federal governments tackle climate change.
“Groton and Stonington will face a 20-inch sea level rise by 2050. We are not at all prepared for the impending storm and it would behoove our state to get serious about addressing sustainability and resiliency issues, so we’ll be laser focused on that,” he said.
In a reprise of his 2015-2017 term, Bumgardner said he wanted to serve again on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. He said he also wants join the Energy and Technology Committee and the Environment Committee if elected this year.
“It’s not just tackling climate change, it’s energy affordability and addressing the need to shift to renewable energies, particularly supporting solar,” he said.
Bumgardner said he would work to support economic recovery, especially for working families who own small businesses.
“Many of our more vulnerable communities, especially Black and Latino families within the district and our lower income families, have been hit the hardest and in some cases are worse off than before the onset of the pandemic,” he said.
Bumgardner also said that he would have supported raising the minimum wage to $15 and paid family leave if he had served in the legislature. He said he would continue to address issues of equity and financial wellness for every resident.
“It’s absolutely imperative for all of us and I certainly will continue to be a fighter to level the playing field and advocate for our small business community, as well as supporting our apprenticeship programs that we’ve built in partnership with Electric Boat that are absolutely critical to the district,” he said.
If elected, Bumgardner said he would defend the Education Cost Sharing funds for both Groton and Stonington, making sure each town received its fair share.
Bumgardner also said that he would like to reestablish the Program Review and Investigations Committee. He said the committee was decommissioned in a bipartisan vote in 2017.
“With all the talk about State Pier, the school construction program and calls for greater legislative oversight of various quasi public agencies, it seems like a logical next step to reestablish this now defunct committee in the spirit of bipartisanship,” he said.
Bumgardner emphasized his ability to work in a bipartisan manner.
“I’m excited to make my case not just to Democratic voters but also Republican and unaffiliated voters as well, who I think value having a representative that has the capacity to work across party lines as I’ve demonstrated throughout my career and throughout my time in politics,” he said.
Editor’s note: Bumgardner served on the Education and Transportation committees from 2015 to 2017, but not on the Program Review and Investigations Committee. He said that if elected he wanted to serve again on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. He won the primary challenge against incumbent Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick in 2021, but lost in the general election after Hedrick waged a write-in candidacy. Bumgardener said he would have supported the $15 minimum wage and paid family medical leave if he had served in the House, just as Joe de la Cruz supported these issues during his tenure.