Elections watchdog loses its director to retirement

The executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission for the past two years, Albert P. Lenge, retired Friday.

Lenge, who is part of a wave of retirements across state government sparked by imminent changes in benefits ordered through the union concession agreement, had served in state government for 28 years.

“Al Lenge has done an outstanding job, his dedication and commitment to the electoral process has resulted in Connecticut being recognized as a national leader,” Commission Chairman Stephen Cashman, said Friday. “Connecticut residents should be proud of the work he has done on their behalf.”

Lenge, 61, took over the commission’s top administrative post in October 2009 following the retirement of longtime executive director Jeffrey Garfield. For 14 years prior to that he had served as deputy director and assistant general counsel.

“More than anything, I will miss being involved in the lives of incredibly talented Commission staff,” Lenge said. “During these difficult times and the major transition of the Commission into the Office of Government Accountability, it is important to continue to work on maintaining the integrity of the electoral process and keeping watchdog agencies independent from political influence.”

Lenge served in four different agencies during his career.

He served under three secretaries of the state over a seven-year span, first as director and attorney of that office’s Elections Division and later as the secretary’s general counsel. He also worked in the office of Connecticut’s Attorney General for almost two years, and another three-and-a-half years as counsel to the Freedom of Information Commission.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration originally estimated that soon-to-be-implemented restrictions on pension and retiree health care could prompt as many as 1,000 additional retirements over the summer and fall, on top of the 1,000 or so retirement usually recorded annually. As of Friday more than 2,600 retirement applications had been submitted this year.