Democrats put Klein up against Wood in 141st
DARIEN — Voters in the heavily Republican 141st District of the state House of Representatives haven’t sent a Democrat to Hartford for as long as anyone can remember.
Randy Klein, former Darien Democratic Town Committee chairman and husband of former First Selectwoman Evonne M. Klein, is hoping to change that in November by defeating four-term Republican incumbent Terrie E. Wood.
“There’s always a first,” Klein said before being nominated unanimously by fellow Democrats at Darien Town Hall on Tuesday evening to run for the 141st District seat. “I’m going to outwork my competition. That’s how Democrats win, and I hope get our DTC involved.”
The 141st District includes Rowayton and part of Darien. On the Norwalk side, Republicans make up 28 percent and Democrats 34 percent of registered voters. On the Darien side, Republicans account for about 50 percent and Democrats roughly 20 percent of the electorate, said Darien DTC Chairman David F. Bayne.
“We’re a very Republican district; the numbers are against us. But this has been, if nothing (else), a surprising election year,” Bayne said. “The electorate is very unsettled and Terrie Wood has been an incumbent for a long time, so maybe there’s a hope for a candidate like Randy, who’s been a businessman here in Darien.”
A Darien resident for 26 years, Klein is president of Drivers Unlimited, a tri-state area limousine service now based in Norwalk. He was chairman of the Darien DTC for three years and has been a Little League coach and a sponsor of Darien Youth Hockey. His wife is now state housing commissioner under Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Klein identified transportation, education and the state’s business environment as his priorities as a candidate. While supporting Malloy’s 30-year plan to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, Klein said more must be done to improve Interstate 95, the Merritt Parkway and Metro-North Railroad.
“This is the heritage of our state and country: to be able to move goods and services from one place to another,” Klein said. “We have to take a clear leading role in transportation achievement. It’s the key to our economic future.”
On education, Klein rejected recent Republican state budget proposals as pitting “school system against school system.” The most pressing issue, he said, is educated young people leaving Connecticut. He described education, transportation and business as interlinked and rejected viewing them as strictly local issues.
“What happens in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport affects people who live in the 141st District,” Klein said. “What I’ve seen is too much of a local focus.”
Wood, past president of the Darien Land Trust and co-founder of the Darien Environmental Group, was first elected to represent the district in November 2008. She is ranking member on the Human Services Committee and also serves on the Regulations Review and Finance, Revenue, and Bonding committees in the General Assembly.
In 2014, she received the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies’ Family Legislator of the Year award.
Wood, who was nominated by her party Monday evening, hasn’t faced a challenger since 2012 when she defeated Democrat Rob Werner. She said she looks forward to facing an opponent this year.
“It was an honor to be nominated to run again for the 141st district,” Wood said. “I'm deeply grateful for the support and belief in my ability to continue to represent this district. I'm appreciative, as well, of the broad support I have from Republicans, Democrats and Unaffiliated voters. I welcome an opponent this election. It is important for voters to have a choice and hear the different approaches to addressing our state issues.”
Wood said her first priority, if re-elected, would be to continue to “advocate for a common-sense approach to the budget and our fiscal issues.”
She added that she also hopes to work on mental and behavioral health issues, human services and the environment, “as I have over the last couple of sessions.”
Republican John J. Ryan, an attorney, represented the district from 1995 until Wood took office in 2009.