Ken Bernhard spent 8 years representing Westport in Connecticut’s General Assembly. He rose to assistant minority leader.
Now Bernhard — who was was also 3rd selectman from 1987 to ’89, then served on the Zoning Board of Appeals — wants to return to Hartford.
He’s running for Will Haskell’s 26th District State Senate seat. The legislator is heading to law school, not running for a 3rd term.
And Bernhard — who spent his entire political life as a Republican — is doing it as a Democrat.
The longtime Westporter and civic volunteer — he’s been a board member of the Westport Library, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Norwalk Human Services Council, Earthplace, Westport Historical Society, Levitt Pavilion, Aspetuck Land Trust, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and Connecticut League of Conservation Voters — told “06880”:
I was disappointed to learn that Will Haskell is planning to vacate his senate seat, but I admire him for his decision to attend law school and to focus on his future.
Having received the news about Will’s decision, I felt a sense of responsibility to ensure that the 26th District will continue to be well represented, and that it will remain a part of the Democratic Party caucus. I would consider it a privilege to represent our community in Hartford once again, this time as a Democratic state senator.
As an experienced legislator, I understand the political process and how it works in Hartford. If elected, I would be ready to represent the district effectively on day one. Additionally, I am available to devote my full time and attention to this important work.
When I served as Westport’s State Representative in the role of assistant minority leader, I was recognized as a moderate-to-liberal legislator who advocated for a woman’s right to choose, promoted the protection of the environment, voted for sensible gun control legislation, and supported voting rights. My record in public and private life embodies those values and I am eager to take on a more active role in advancing them in Hartford and around the nation.
Our republic is under assault. Every day we see this happening in Washington, DC and throughout the United States. We cannot allow it to happen here in Connecticut.
There is much work to be done at the state capitol to address the ongoing threat and ravages of climate change, to ensure that the state’s fiscal house is in order, to improve our transportation infrastructure, to guard against racial injustice, and to enhance community “safety nets.” I want to make certain that the interests of our Fairfield County communities are not overlooked in Hartford.
I believe my record will attract the support of moderate and conservative-leaning Democrats, like-minded Republicans and unaffiliated voters, all of whom want and deserve a state senator who will exercise good judgment, common sense and work hard to get things done. That’s why I am announcing my candidacy for State Senator from the 26th District.
I look forward to meeting with the voters and to have a dialogue about Connecticut’s future. In a couple of weeks, I will be registering my campaign with the State and will shortly create a web page where we can engage. Thank you in advance.
In addition to his Westport activities, Bernhard helped found the Syria Fund, which provides support and education to refugees in Jordan. He’s deeply involved with the Tree of Life Orphanage in Haiti, which educates and feeds over 200 children, while creating jobs for adults.
He organizes shoe collection drives for Soles4Souls, shipping thousands of shoes to children around the world. He and his wife Alice have also raised 7 guide dogs.
Other potential candidates in the 26th district — which has been newly redrawn, eliminating Bethel but adding a bit of Stamford — are considering runs too.