Hamden's Sharkey 'Wrestled' with Decision to Retire as House Speaker

By Ramunni, Kate | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), May 23, 2016 | Go to article overview

Hamden's Sharkey 'Wrestled' with Decision to Retire as House Speaker


Ramunni, Kate, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


HAMDEN » When Brendan Sharkey left his Mount Carmel home Thursday night headed for the Hamden Democratic Town Committee's nominating convention, a fleeting thought crossed his mind.

"As I left my house to come here tonight, I said to my wife, 'You know, I could be coming here to be nominated,'" Sharkey told the crowd at the Hamden Senior Center. "She said to me, 'thank God you're not.'"

But that wasn't the opinion of many of those attending the convention, including 1st District member Matthew Fitch. "I think all of us would prefer to be nominating Brendan Sharkey tonight," he said.

Last week Sharkey surprised many in Hamden and at the state Capitol when he announced he wouldn't be seeking a third term as the speaker of the House of Representatives and would instead be retiring from politics. He had been set to run for another term, he said, and had gone about lining up the support needed to keep his position as speaker.

"I didn't come to (the decision) easily, I really wrestled with it for the last several months and really only resolved that I wasn't going to run again just a couple of weeks ago," he said. "I garnered all the support. (State Rep.) Robin (Porter) was just telling me she was annoyed -- I just got her endorsement for a third term, that's how recently I made this decision.

"It's hard not to stand here and not be emotional," he said.

"Brendan, from the start of his political career, was always, always for the betterment of Hamden," said DTC Chairman Lew Panzo. "And believe me, I represent all Democrats in Hamden, and we are going to miss you," he told Sharkey. "You really worked hard for us, you have pushed for us."

"Obviously it's a tremendous loss with him not running again," said state Rep. Michael D'Agostino, D-Hamden, who served with Sharkey for the past four years and calls him a mentor. "Being speaker and being a representative from Hamden, it's a 90-hour-a- week job and the toll I've seen it take on this man for the last four years -- he gives everything emotionally, physically, every ounce of his being to that job. With the lack of sleep, I'm amazed he's still standing at the end of it. He put himself out there for Hamden every second, every day he was up there and he will be sorely missed."

"I can't tell you what a privilege it's been to serve in Hamden and for Hamden for all these years," Sharkey said. His career in public service began 25 years ago when he was chosen to serve as town attorney under former Mayor Lillian Clayman. "From there I have continued to do what I could to help Hamden for all this time," he said.

"As I look at my tenure as speaker, there is a lot that we have accomplished here for Hamden during that time," he said. "And it was also a very difficult time by most measures of speakers' tenures. …

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