Diana Urban is leaving the legislature after 9 terms of fighting for children, animals, fiscal responsibility

Diana Urban is leaving the legislature after 9 terms of fighting for children, animals, fiscal responsibility



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State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, announced Sunday she will not run for her 10th term in November and is endorsing Democratic Stonington Selectwoman Kate Rotella to take her place.

Urban said she will also support former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz’s run for governor and will serve as Bysiewicz’s economic advisor should she win. 

“I would never leave this position without being sure there was somebody who had the background, the education and the passion to fill my seat, and that’s Kate Rotella,” Urban said Monday. “Kate Rotella has the knowledge, the skill and the temperament to represent the 43rd District, and I and my whole team will be working to get her elected.” 

Urban said she could have “hedged her bets” and run for state representative again, but if Bysiewicz won, then she would have to step aside to work in Bysiewicz’s cabinet; and there would need to be a special election, a chance Urban didn’t want to take. 

Supporting Bysiewicz as a female Democratic candidate made sense in the current political climate, Urban said. 

“Now is the time for a strong woman candidate for governor, considering what’s going on on the national scene,” she said. “I want to be there to help her get elected, and she wants me as her economic advisor, and I know if she gets elected, I will be able to help her to get Connecticut back on track.” 

As a representative, Urban pushed for Results Based Accountability, a system that links state spending to concrete results. Being on Bysiewicz’s cabinet would allow her to continue her work from the executive branch, Urban said. 

“Given the tough state of the Connecticut budget, it’s well past time to make accountability in budgeting a priority for the next administration,” she said. 

As chair of the Children’s Committee, Urban created the “Children’s Report Card,” which measures the impact of state spending on programs for children and families.  

Uban also worked to pass Desmond’s Law, which allows judges to appoint animal advocates in cases of egregious animal cruelty. She also pushed for a system of cross-reporting whereby the Department of Children and Families and local and state animal control officers share information on children and family abuse and animal abuse. 

“The link between animal abuse and children and family abuse is well-established,” said Urban. “In fact, we know that most school shooters started out abusing animals.” 

She also pushed the state to investigate Amistad America, which spent nearly $10 million in state funds with virtually no documentation of how the money was spent. After a state audit, the Amistad was sold to a new group, which plans to be independent of state support by 2018-19. 

Urban said her life changed in 2016 when she married Jonathan Walters, who is the executive editor of Governing Magazine. She said she wants to spend more time with her husband and grandchild. 

“I literally thought I’d be in the legislature forever because I’m so passionate about all the things that I do, but there comes a time when new opportunities open up,” she said. 

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Rotella said was very excited about running for state representative.

“I feel privileged that Diana would like me to follow in her footsteps and I would like nothing more than to do that,” Rotella said. 

Rotella said she would make an official announcement once she has formed her campaign committee and filed her paperwork. 

chewitt@thewesterlysun.com


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