A consistent and steadying force at the state Capitol, Sen. Donald DeFronzo of New Britain was the third lawmaker appointed to serve in Gov.-elect Dan Malloy’s administration.
Elected to the state Senate in 2002 DeFronzo took the lead on many state contracting and bonding issues and chaired the legislature’s General Administration and Elections Committee and Transportation Committee, which initially led to rumors he may be called by the administration to head the beleaguered Department of Transportation.
But Malloy had different plans for the New Britain lawmaker and former mayor. Malloy announced on Wednesday that DeFronzo will head the Department of Administrative Services.
As head of the agency, which oversees most state contracts, DeFronzo will lead the Malloy administration’s restructuring effort and seek to bring greater efficiency to the purchasing process.
Malloy described DeFronzo as a “No nonsense, nose to the grind stone kind of guy.”
He said he will rely heavily on DeFronzo to help reshape and restructure state government, but Malloy wasn’t ready to say exactly what his restructured government will look like.
“Connecticut can do better, we need to do better, and we can do better,” DeFronzo said.
Malloy said it’s actually helpful that state government currently operates in silos because it will be easier to move those silos from one place to another then integrate and house them in the appropriate location, while making them more efficient.
Connecticut isn’t a state that’s organized on a functional basis, DeFronzo said. Better technology and better consolidation will help it get closer.
Asked if that means for the state workforce, Malloy and DeFronzo both said they’re not looking to eliminate anyone’s job. They said they’re looking at reducing redundancies and inefficiencies to streamline the progress.
For example there are several agencies that deliver services to veterans, but none of those agencies communicate with each other so benefits may be getting paid out of the wrong pot of money. Malloy said that’s just one example of the problem his administration will seek to address.
Malloy also warned it will take him about two years to restructure state government.
DeFronzo’s appointment necessitates another special election as he leaves his Senate seat, representing New Britain, Berlin, and Farmington, open. After the press conference announcing the appointment, Theresa B. Gerratana, former lawmaker of 10 years, said she is considering running for the seat. Gerranta said she has been known for her advocacy of public health issues. She also served as a commissioner of the state’s elections enforcement agency as it was rolling out the public campaign financing program. Gerratana said if she decides to run, it will be announced shortly.
DeFronzo called Gerratana a very qualified candidate but said he would ultimately support whoever the delegate decides to endorse.
“We have a number of capable candidates out there and Terry is certainly one of them,” he said.
DeFronzo is Malloy’s sixth appointment. Malloy has appointed Timothy Bannon as his chief of staff, Ben Barnes as Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, former Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz as his Department of Children and Families Commission, Reuben Bradford as his Department of Public Safety Commissioner, and Dr. Jewel Mullen as his Public Health Commissioner.
Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford will be Malloy’s chief legal counsel, Rep. Michael Lawlor of East Haven will serve as undersecretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning in OPM, and Rep. James Spallone of Essex will be Secretary of the State-elect Denise Merrill’s Deputy Secretary of the State. \