Canton Republican Sen. Kevin Witkos announced he would not seek re-election in November and stressed the importance of working across the aisle in a Thursday video posted to the Senate Republicans’ Youtube channel.
During a two-and-a-half minute video seated in front of a Christmas tree, Witkos, who was first elected to the Senate in 2008 and previously served six years in the House, announced his coming retirement and said he was proud of his work at the legislature. He reflected fondly on his accomplishments, including the establishment of the Connecticut Green Bank.
“Working hand-in-hand with my counterpart, Sen. John Fonfara from Hartford – a Democrat as a matter of fact – because you can’t get anything done individually,” Witkos said. “You have to be able to work with each other.”
Witkos, a retired police officer, also praised the fiscal policies enacted by the legislature in 2017 and 2018 when the state Senate was evenly divided between the two parties.
“All these things which have allowed our rainy day fund to overflow … and now we’re paying down our long-term obligations,” Witkos said. “These are the things you can’t do individually, you have to do collaboratively.”
During last year’s debate on the legalization of recreational cannabis, Witkos was the only Senate Republican to vote for the bill and became the subject of scrutiny when the Hartford Courant reported that his wife had a job with one of the state’s medical marijuana producers.
In a statement Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly praised Witkos as a dedicated public servant.
“Kevin is known for being a leader and advocate who works tirelessly for his constituents,” Kelly said. “He has achieved many successes during his long career in service by building consensus and bringing people together.”
And Witkos’ willingness to work across the aisle did not go unnoticed. His announcement prompted a statement of disappointment on Twitter from Rep. Michael D’Agostino, a Hamden Democrat who chairs the General Law Committee on which Witkos is the ranking Republican.
“Nooo! I am saddened by this,” D’Agostino wrote. “[Witkos] epitomizes what is an increasingly rare breed: a truly bipartisan politician whose singular motivation is bettering the lives of our residents. I will miss working with him. A great senator and friend.”