Walko will not run for second term, cites move out of 150th district

State Rep. Stephen Walko, shown here at his swearing in ceremony in 2014, will not run for a new term this fall.

State Rep. Stephen Walko, shown here at his swearing in ceremony in 2013, will not run for a new term this fall.

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 3;45 P.M. — Greenwich politics got a shake up on Wednesday when State. Rep. Stephen Walko (R-150th) announced he would not run for a new term.

Mr. Walko is only in his first term in office after previously serving the town as a member and chairman of the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) so his decision is viewed as somewhat of a surprise. But he says that it’s necessary due to his desire to move his family to a home outside his district.

“As much as I love representing the people of the 150th district in Hartford, I simply cannot serve if I don’t live in the district,” Mr. Walko said.  “My family has found a wonderful new home which exactly fits our needs and, while I won’t be moving out of the district for some time, I will certainly not be a resident of the 150th District during the next legislative term.”

Mr. Walko will remain a town resident and his home will now be in the 149th District, which is represented by State Rep. Livvy Floren, whose own political future was the subject of much discussion in recent months. Ms. Floren, who has been in office since 2000, initially had announced she would not seek another term, but changed her mind last month and declared she would run again in November. Ms. Floren said she had received so much encouragement not to retire that she changed her plans.

Now it’s Mr. Walko’s seat that will be up for grabs in the fall. He was first elected in 2012 over Democrat Stephanie Paulmeno and, while continuing to work as partner at the Greenwich law firm of Ivey, Barnum & O’Mara, served on the legislature’s finance, judiciary and education committees.

In comments he made in the press release sent out on Wednesday, Mr. Walko indicated he was not closing his future off to another run for office, something that could open up in two years if the popular Ms. Floren does not run again in her Republican-heavy district, which also includes a portion of Stamford.

“Having the ability to help shape state laws is an experience I treasure,” Mr. Walko said. “I hope that at some time in the future I will again be given the opportunity by Greenwich citizens to represent them in the general assembly.”

Mr. Walko added he was “privileged” to work with his colleagues in the Greenwich delegation and that he was “especially grateful” to the voters of the 150th district.

“I’ve been honored to work with them, listening to their opinions and concerns while fighting to advance issues important to them,” Mr. Walko said. “I thank them for allowing me to serve.”

When reached for comment on Wednesday, Greenwich Republican Town Committee Chairman Jim Campbell said he was “surprised to hear” about Mr. Walko’s decision. He said that he has put out the word for interested candidates in the 150th district to get in touch with him.

“Steve has been a terrific representative for the 150th district and we are sorry that he will not be able to continue to serve in this role and run for reelection,” Mr. Campbell said.

Meanwhile the news was greeted with delight from Greenwich Democrats who feel they have a chance this fall. Greenwich Democratic Town Committee Chairman Frank Farricker told the Post that there had already been a push from within the party to make an aggressive fight for the seat before Mr. Walko’s announcement and his decision will only increase the interest.

“This is as open a seat as there can possibly be,” Mr. Farricker said. “I don’t think Greenwich Democrats have had an opportunity like this in 100 years.”

Mr. Farricker said the district is broken down close to having one third Democrats, one third Republicans and one third unaffiliated, giving the party a chance there to break the century-long Republican dominance in the delegation to Hartford. He also noted that the district contains three districts in town, one, three and four, that Greenwich Democrats have performed well in over the past few elections.  Plus he said he believed that the district was more than open to the Democratic message.

“Steve is a very nice guy but he didn’t really distinguish himself in the seat,” Mr. Farricker said. “He didn’t really put his foot into it.”

Mr. Farricker added that he “expected serious interest very quickly” from people wanting to run for the seat.

Mr. Walko received high praise from First Selectman Peter Tesei, whom he succeeded as chairman of the BET in 2007.

“Steve’s service to Greenwich did not begin with holding office as a state representative and it will not end there either,”Mr. Tesei said. “He’s been a coach, community volunteer, RTM member, BET chairman and state representative. Steve’s commitment to Greenwich and his commitment to his family go hand in hand because Steve understands the fundamental idea that serving our community is also serving our families and Steve has a lot of family in Greenwich. He is not only my friend, but a trusted advisor. I know his service will continue in many forms.”


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