BRISTOL – Though sad to lose a friend in Hartford, leaders of area organizations that relied on state Rep. Bill Hamzy said they appreciated his work and understood his decision not to run again so he can spend more time with his children.
“We truly appreciate his service and sacrifice, but totally understand his decision,” said Thomas Morrow, executive director of the Bristol Community Organization.
“We also believe that families should come first.”Patricia White, co-chair of the Hoppers-Birge Pond Committee, said she was “stunned” to learn that Hamzy wouldn’t seek re-election.
“While I understand Rep. Hamzy’s reasons for not running again, his voice in Hartford on behalf of Bristol will be missed,” said White.
“This is a good move for him and his family,” said Jean Letourneau, White’s co-chair on the Hoppers committee.
White said Hamzy lobbied in the mid-1990s for funding that was used for the dredging and restoration of Birge Pond and Pine Lake, making him “instrumental” to the success of the Hoppers-Birge Pond Nature Preserve project.
“Rep. Hamzy has been an outstanding representative of our area during his time in the legislature,” said Tunxis Community College President Cathryn Addy. “He is knowledgeable, has been a good communicator back to his constituents, and he has been honest and straightforward.”
Addy said she’s sorry that Hamzy won’t seek reelection.
“I have a great deal of respect for him,” Addy said.
Bristol Hospital President Kurt Barwis said he’s disappointed to lose Hamzy.
“He has been an absolute asset to me and the hospital,” said Barwis. “I’m going to miss that connection.”
Barwis said he hopes Hamzy will run for office again in the future.
Though Hamzy lives in Plymouth and represents both towns, Barwis said, “He really did care a lot about Bristol.”
Al Fermeglia, who is the principal of the Bristol Technical Education Center, said Hamzy has been one of the tech school’s strongest supporters.
“He helped keep us open when we were slated to be closed,” Fermeglia said. “We are very happy to count Mr. Hamzy as a friend of Bristol TEC.”
Hamzy visited the school for graduations and other occasions over the years, Fermeglia said, and helped when the school was up for accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in 2008.
Hamzy backs the school’s model of students entering as juniors, Fermeglia said, based on the idea that younger students may not have a defined career path.Hamzy sponsored a bonding bill that brought in $1.5 million towards the construction of the new educational building at Indian Rock Nature Preserve, said Jon Guglietta, executive director of the centers.
“Bill was a strong advocate for the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut through his work as a state legislator and as an individual, helping to build relationships with business and individuals in the community,” Guglietta said.
Morrow said Hamzy has always been a strong supporter of BCO and the elderly, low income and handicapped people it serves.
“He has always made himself available to us,” said Morrow.
Letourneau said that while he didn’t always agree with Hamzy on the issues, he appreciated the work he did to get funding to dredge Birge Pond.
“In my opinion Bill was very nice servant to the voters who elected him and he will be remembered for that,” Letourneau said. “Unlike many who hide behind anonymous comments, he always put his name behind the issues he supported.”