Rep. Manny Sanchez, D-New Britain Credit: Christine Stuart / CTNewsJunkie

State Rep. Manny Sanchez will assume the role of the Labor and Public Employees Committee’s House chair, a post left vacant by the untimely death of Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams earlier this month, House Speaker Matt Ritter announced Tuesday. 

Sanchez, a New Britain Democrat beginning his second term in office, had been vice chair of the committee, which has cognizance over policies pertaining to employment, organized labor, as well as state and municipal workers. 

He will step into the committee chair role as result of the Jan. 5 car crash, which killed Williams as he was traveling home from the governor’s inaugural ball. Williams’ vehicle was struck by a car traveling in the wrong direction on Route 9 in Cromwell. Both motorists died in the crash, according to state police.

In a press release, Ritter and House Majority Leader Jason Rojas thanked Sanchez for his willingness to take on the responsibility and expressed confidence in his ability to lead the labor panel. 

“Our economy depends on a vibrant workforce and Manny’s leadership will be key to ensuring that important policies are debated and all sides are heard,” Ritter said.

Sanchez called Williams a mentor whose memory would inform his work on the committee.

“Saying ‘yes’ when called on to be of service – this was the practice of my friend and brother, Representative Quentin Williams,” Sanchez said in a press release. “I’m honored to be appointed co-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee working on the issues that face working families across our state. Raising the minimum wage, supporting workers’ rights, and expanding the right to organize are all priorities this session.”

On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont announced that a special election would be held on Feb. 28 to fill Williams’ seat representing the city of Middletown. 

Two additional special elections will be held in Stamford to choose a replacement for Rep. Daniel Fox and in Hartford and West Hartford to pick a successor to Rep. Edwin Vargas. Fox and Vargas, both Democrats, won reelection but did not take the oath of office and will instead pursue professional opportunities outside the legislature.