State Sen. Edith Prague.
State Sen. Edith Prague. Credit: File Photo / CTNewsJunkie

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated former Sen. Edith Prague on Thursday to a position she held nearly 20 years ago — Aging Department Commissioner.

The State Department on Aging was disbanded by former Gov. Lowell Weicker and re-established by Malloy and the legislature in January. Prague will take over as head of the new agency on April 8.

“I’m so excited I’m beside myself,” Prague said.

Known as a staunch advocate for the elderly, Malloy said Prague was a natural choice for the position, which pays $120,000 a year.

Prague, an 87-year-old Democrat from Columbia, decided not to run for re-election last year after having suffered a minor stroke.

Last May, Prague said that while she made a miraculous recovery from the stroke, her doctor advised her not to get into stressful or exhausting situations. Campaigning qualifies as both, she said.

Asked why she would decide not to run for a part-time position but is willing to take on the full-time position as commissioner, Malloy stepped in and said he doesn’t plan to meet with Prague at 2:30 a.m. It was a reference to the sometimes long hours the General Assembly puts in toward the end of the session.

“That was then and this is now,” Prague said.

She said she’s gotten stronger since deciding not to run for re-election.

“I’m drinking Boost every day,” Prague said. “So I’ll stay healthy and I’m looking forward to the job.”

Prague said she’s been waiting for 20 years for the state to make the Aging Department an independent agency. She will manage a staff of around 30 people. Malloy said the department was necessary because more than 21 percent of the state’s population will be at retirement age by 2030.

“I believe Edith has the experience and expertise necessary to make an immediate impact and lead policy initiatives that ensure the needs of our growing elderly population are met,” Malloy said.

When announcing Prague’s appointment, Malloy joked that he’s “quite certain she will tell me what to do.”

Prague said she was the one who approached Malloy about becoming commissioner of the state Department on Aging.