Avery Gaddis didn’t walk into Republican Senate Leader Len Fasano’s office looking for a job. He showed up with Sen. Rob Kane of Watertown to complain about what a poor job lawmakers are doing communicating with urban communities.
“He articulated the issue much better than I could,” Fasano said Tuesday during an interview at the Legislative Office Building.
The issue is that the Republican Party has done a poor job at communicating and winning votes in urban communities, which are largely controlled by the Democratic Party.
“Here in Connecticut, Republicans have struggled to penetrate cities with our message and our plans to bring new hope and opportunities,” Fasano said. “I, as a Republican leader, will take blame for those inadequacies. But now is the time to correct the miscommunication.”
In Gaddis’ new job as director of urban affairs he will act as an ambassador between Republican lawmakers and urban communities.
“I will take ideas, policy initiatives into the cities,” Gaddis said.
A former loan officer, Gaddis said he will do a “cost-benefit analysis” for members of the community to help them understand exactly what a specific policy may mean for them. He will also bring information from the community back to lawmakers to help shape public policy.
“Avery can help us better communicate with our cities so that we can refine our approach and advocate for effective urban policies,” Fasano said.
In the end, it’s about building sustainable relationships that last beyond the election cycle.
Gaddis said he watched how every election cycle the Democrats would show up at the black churches and “then we would not see those folks for the next two years.”
He said some of the policies Democrats promote to urban communities are “not as favorable as one would think once you drill down.” He cited food stamps and Section 8 housing as programs that “condition individuals to keep accepting fish, instead of teaching folks how to fish for themselves.”
And as he gets older, he’s been looking closer at his taxes and “I don’t like my taxes funding inefficient government,” he said.
He said he also thinks it’s not good for either political party to have too much dominance. He said good policy comes out of a diverse and bipartisan government.
Gaddis, a Waterbury native, was one of 15 people Fasano interviewed for the newly created position.
In addition to being an ambassador to urban communities, Gaddis will help the Senate Republican Caucus put together an urban agenda.
“It’s probably not good for Democrats to have their way in the cities, unabated,” Gaddis said. “And a lot of folks have this perception that Republicans as a whole are boogeymen and we cannot control what goes on on CNN and the national stage, but parochially right here at home we can make some headway with our brand building and our outreach.”
Fasano said he’d been interviewing individuals for the position since last April, but once he met Gaddis he knew the search was over. However, it was not an easy sell.
“I had to talk to him a lot to bring him over,” Fasano said.
Before registering as a Republican, Gaddis served as a legislative aide under former Democratic House Speaker Moira Lyons and was a registered Democrat. Gaddis said Fasano didn’t ask him to change his party affiliation in order to get the job, but he felt good about doing it.
Gaddis previously worked as a small business loan officer for the Community Economic Development Fund. He previously served as vice-president of the NAACP’s Waterbury branch and as Waterbury City Clerk.
He lives in Waterbury with his wife Susan and their son Blake and daughter Olivia. He holds a MBA in finance from the University of New Haven and a bachelor’s from Central Connecticut State University.