Hartley reigns in 15th District

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State Rep. Jeffrey Berger, D-73rd, left, and state Sen. Joan Hartley, D-15th, celebrate at the Democratic headquarters on Bank Street in Waterbury on Tuesday. Hartley defeated Independent challenger, James K. Russell. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
State Rep. Jeffrey Berger, D-73rd, left, and state Sen. Joan Hartley, D-15th, celebrate at the Democratic headquarters on Bank Street in Waterbury on Tuesday. Hartley defeated Independent challenger, James K. Russell. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

WATERBURY — A Democratic incumbent who has logged over 30 years in state government easily crushed her Independent opponent, a UPS driver with no political experience, in the race for the state’s 15th District Senate seat.

With Naugatuck and Waterbury reporting, but not Middlebury, late Tuesday incumbent Joan Hartley garnered 82 percent of the votes against Independent James K. Russell.

Hartley on Tuesday said she was humbled by the overwhelming endorsement of her candidacy and her work for the constituents of the 15th. She said she supports good ideas from all sides of the fence, based on how they help people rather than whether the ideas are Democrat or Republican.

“I pledge to continue to be their voice and to work in unison with our delegation … to face the incredible challenges that now await us,” Hartley said.

Hartley ran on her record as a fiscal conservative who knows how to get things done. She said she has worked to lessen unnecessary regulatory requirements on manufacturers, expedited the permitting process for bioscience companies, and help launch a degree in cyber security at Naugatuck Valley Community College.

Russell ran on a platform being closer to the people of the district, which encompasses parts of Waterbury, Middlebury and Naugatuck. He said Hartley’s years in Hartford left her disconnected from everyday struggles.

However, Hartley said she’s remained in touch as a member of virtually every community club in Waterbury.

In her next term, Hartley hopes to identify more job opportunities in Greater Waterbury, strengthen the state’s spending cap process, and work with educational institutions to ensure they are building the skills needed to meet the demands of Connecticut employers.