MIDDLETOWN — The city’s Democratic party announced on Tuesday that they plan to endorse Kai Belton, a clinician at Middlesex Youth Mobile Crisis, to run for State Representative for the 100th district in a special election on Feb. 28.
The seat was formerly held by Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams, who was killed in a wrong-way crash on Route 9 earlier this month.
Belton will be running against Republican nominee Deborah Kleckowski, a former common councilwoman and current Chair of the South District Fire Commission. Kleckowski said in a meeting of the Republican Town Committee last week that some of her chief concerns at the capitol would be re-evaluating the Minimum Budget Requirement for school districts and the Police Accountability Act, and looking at the possibility of bringing more money back to the district.
Mike Fallon, chair of the Middletown Democratic Town Committee, told CT Examiner that Belton was unanimously nominated at a special meeting after three candidates were privately interviewed by members of the DTC. He declined to name the other candidates.
Fallon, who was not on that committee, said that Belton was chosen because she “gave the strongest answers in terms of advocating for vulnerable communities in Middletown and talked about a record of wanting to serve.”
Belton is a graduate of Emerge Connecticut, a six-month program that trains Democratic women to run for office. Belton told CT Examiner that she graduated from the program in 2021 knowing she wanted to run for office but that she wasn’t sure when. When this seat opened after Williams’ death, she said, she decided to run. She said she felt she could “carry on [Williams’] legacy.”
Mayor Ben Florsheim, State Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, State Rep. Brandon Chafee, D-Middletown and Lieutenant Gov. Susan Bysiewicz have all thrown their support behind Belton.
Belton told CT Examiner that if she is elected, one of the most important issues she would want to continue addressing would be youth mental health.
She also said that she wanted to see more legislation around safety for victims of domestic violence — before working at Middlesex Youth Mobile Crisis, Belton was the Executive Director of New Horizons Domestic Violence Shelter in Middletown, and later worked for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Belton also said that the legislature needed to address some of the issues that play into domestic violence — like a lack of affordable housing and the need for stronger gun laws to dissuade community violence.
She said that being a state representative would allow her to address these issues in a different way than she had been in her job as a social worker.
“Being a social worker, you are in all these different silos, seeing all of these issues people are impacted by … and it’s almost like putting a Band-Aid on things, because you know that you’re helping people in the moment, but the real changes have to come from these policies and these different systems,” she said. “So I feel like now I have the opportunity, if I am elected, to be supporting individuals and families on a different level — and I’m really excited about that.”