On the eve of his inauguration, Gov.-elect Dan Malloy reached into the ranks of the legislature Tuesday to appoint Rep. Chris Caruso of Bridgeport to a position in the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Caruso, a veteran lawmaker who previously chaired the General Administration and Elections Committee under former House Speaker James Amann, will provide counsel for the new governor on urban initiatives, housing, and smart growth. He lost the chairmanship of the committee when House Speaker Chris Donovan was elected to the post.
“As a former mayor of an urban center, I know that many of the issues cities face can be unique and complex,” Malloy said in a prepared statement. “While no more or less important that the issues our state’s other areas face, they certainly are different, and I am looking to Chris to draw from his experience living in and representing a city to help shape policy at DECD.”
Caruso said that while he has enjoyed serving in the House, he couldn’t turn down Malloy’s offer.
“The chance to help shape urban policy and provide counsel to the Governor is one in which I believe my experience as a legislator from Bridgeport could be helpful,” Caruso said. “I’m looking forward to working with the staff at the department to implement many of the ideas and issues Governor-Elect Malloy and I have worked on throughout the years.”
Caruso is the sixth lawmaker appointed to a Malloy administration post. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said Tuesday that the new governor has until Jan. 15 to issue a Writ of Special Election to fill those vacancies. Nine legislative seats are open. Three of the vacancies are unrelated to Malloy appointments:
–Sen. Tom Gaffey, D-Meriden, won his election but decided not to be sworn in because he is facing an arraignment Wednesday on misdemeanor larceny charges related to campaign finances;
–Rep. James Spallone, D-Essex, was appointed Deputy Secretary of the State by Denise Merrill, and;
–Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, has been nominated by legislative leaders to be one of the state’s two auditors of public accounts.
Aside from from Caruso, five legislators are vacating their seats to serve in the Malloy administration:
–Rep. Deborah Heinrich, D-Madison, appointed to newly created Nonprofit Advocate cabinet position;
–Rep. David McCluskey, D-West Hartford, appointed to the Board of Pardons and Parole;
–Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, appointed Malloy’s chief legal counsel;
–Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, appointed to the Office of Policy and Management, and;
–Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D-New Britain, to head the Department of Administrative Services.
First elected in 1991, Caruso currently serves on the Regulations Review Committee, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, the Public Safety Committee, and the Transportation Committee.