STAMFORD — A onetime statehouse hopeful is trying again.
City Democrats have endorsed Corey Paris, a 29-year-old who previously set his sights on the state House of Representatives in 2018, as the Democratic candidate for a special election next month.
Paris is looking to succeed Patricia Billie Miller, who became a state senator earlier this month after winning a special election. Miller represented the 145th District, which includes the West Side and Waterside neighborhoods in Stamford, for 12 years.
Paris said Miller has been “a mentor and a friend for many years now.”
“Immediately after I got the endorsement, I called her and told her very honestly that I stand on her shoulders and that I will be seeking her wisdom and her counsel constantly,” Paris said. “She is just in her own league, and I certainly cannot prevail in this race without her.”
Before Miller, other Democrats who represented the 145th District included Christel Truglia and now-U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
The nine members of the Stamford Democratic City Committee who live in the district met on March 20 to vote on an endorsement, Chairman Josh Fedeli said. The nominees included Paris as well as city Reps. Terry Adams, D-3, and Jeffrey Stella, D-9, who are both members of the DCC. Paris ultimately won the endorsement.
“He is an up-and-coming young leader, and (we’re) certainly looking forward to helping him to get elected in the 145th,” Fedeli said.
Fritz Blau, who chairs the Stamford Republican Town Committee, did not return requests for comment on potential GOP candidates for the special election. As of Thursday, no Republican had filed the necessary paperwork to run, according to the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s website.
Paris currently lives in Bridgeport but has lived in Stamford before, in the 146th District. He said he has been a Stamford resident for seven of the 10 years he has lived in Connecticut, and that he plans to move to the 145th District in a matter of weeks. He must live there by April 27, the day of the special election, according to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office.
In 2018, Paris launched a challenge against Adams, who at the time was the state representative for the 146th District. That year, members of the DCC endorsed David Michel, who went on to win the primary and general election. Paris tried to petition his way onto the ballot for the primary, but he said he failed to gather enough signatures from registered Democrats.
Paris said he is running for the state House again because he understands “the average voter in Stamford.”
“I have been fully committed to Stamford,” he said. “I work in Stamford. I worship in Stamford. And I hear people’s concerns about housing affordability, early childhood education, the opportunity to have easier access to voting.”
Paris is the director of development at the nonprofit Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County. He is a parishioner at Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church and is also the vice chairman of the Mayor’s Multicultural Council.
He was born in Arkansas and raised in Kansas. He moved to Connecticut in 2011 and attended Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Western in 2014 and was student body president.
If Paris wins the special election on April 27, he will join the state House of Representatives about a month and a half before the General Assembly’s regular session is set to end. He said one of his top priorities for next session would be advocating for universal early education.
“Connecticut’s already known for its high attainment in education, and I think that we should continue down the road in making sure that we’re educating our children from the moment they hit the table at the hospital,” Paris said.
He said he would push for more support, including more financial backing, for early childhood education centers across Connecticut.
“I think one thing that you’ve seen from this pandemic (is) that smaller programs had to close because they did not have the resources from either the federal government or the state government to stay open,” Paris said. “And so you have a lot of displaced children. You have a lot of parents who aren’t able to work at the same level or for the same amount of hours that they were able to do before the pandemic because they have to stay home with their children.”
As for affordable housing, Paris pointed to a bill that would give tenants the “right to counsel” in eviction proceedings as a helpful measure in the short term.
“I think that that’s one way that we can at least stop the hemorrhaging in the case of the eviction crisis and housing affordability,” he said. “If we stop the bleeding there, then we can look for more sustainable ways to equalize the curve on housing affordability.”
In terms of voting, he said he supports automatic registration, no-excuse absentee voting and making Election Day a statewide holiday.