House Democrats elect Sharkey, Aresimowicz

House Democrats selected J. Brendan Sharkey of Hamden as speaker and Joseph Aresimowicz as majority leader Thursday night. Sharkey was chosen by acclamation, Aresimowicz by secret ballot in a contest with Jeffrey Berger of Waterbury.

Aresimowicz, 42, who is a former union president and current union representative, succeeds Sharkey as majority leader. Sharkey, whose status as the next speaker has been assured for months, succeeds Christopher G. Donovan as speaker, the top leadership post in the House.


Aresimowicz (l) accepting congratulations.

In 2007, Aresimowicz was one of only five House members to vote against the budget, complaining it was balanced on one-time revenues and was not sustainable. In 2010 he joined seven other House Democrats to vote against a sweeping energy bill.

With a Democrat, Dannel P. Malloy, in the governor’s office, the lawmaker known as “Joe A-to-Z” was back in the fold in 2011. He supported a budget that relied in part on labor concessions and savings backed by the leadership of the union that employees him, AFSCME Council 4.

Aresimowicz said he will examine his duties as a service representative, mostly working with municipal unions, to avoid conflicts with his new leadership duties. He does not negotiate contracts, but he does represent some state employees in grievances.

First elected in 2004, he came to the legislature after three terms on the Berlin Town Council. He also has a part-time job: Aresimowicz is the freshman football coach and assistant varsity football coach at Berlin High School.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released a statement Thursday saying, “I want to congratulate Brendan Sharkey and Joe Aresimowicz on their new leadership positions. From our work to balance the state’s finances to the historic Jobs Bill, we’ve worked together to affect positive changes for state residents.  I look forward to working with them and the entire caucus next year.”

Earlier Thursday, Senate Democrats re-elected their leadership team: Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr. of Brooklyn and Majority Leader Martin Looney of New Haven.

No changes are expected in the leadership of the Republican minorities: Rep. Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk and Sen. John McKinney of Fairfield.