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Treneé McGee takes House seat, postscript to a scandal

Pomp and pandemic: Everyone was masked for the swearing in of Rep. Treneé McGee. From left, House Speaker Matt Ritter, McGee and, at the rostrum, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
MARK PAZNIOKAS
/
CTMIRROR.ORG
Pomp and pandemic: Everyone was masked for the swearing in of Rep. Treneé McGee. From left, House Speaker Matt Ritter, McGee and, at the rostrum, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

Treneé McGee of West Haven took office Wednesday as a member of the House of Representatives, welcomed by a Democratic majority eager to move past the scandal that abruptly forced her predecessor from office.

McGee, 27, a Democrat and the first Black person to hold the seat, won a special election last week to succeed Michael DiMassa, the Democrat who quit in October after his arrest arising from the alleged misuse of federal relief funds.

No one mentioned the circumstances that brought her to Hartford as a representative of the 116th District of West Haven and New Haven.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill administered the oath on the speaker’s rostrum in the House chamber. McGee was surrounded by family, everyone masked as a pandemic precaution.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” McGee said. “I’m grateful for my village.”

McGee, who says she will resign from the West Haven City Council seat she first won in 2019, said she was “stepping outside of my comfort zone” in going to the General Assembly.

She knows she will be a minority in the majority, a Democrat ardently opposed to abortion, but is unwilling to be defined by a single issue. In an interview before the election, she said, “I knew that I would be kind of like a unicorn, and knew that I would be different, that my perspectives would be different, that I would oftentimes challenge my own party.”

Neither McGee nor House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, mentioned that distinction. Ritter urged her to keep an open mind about colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

“Don’t assume anything about anybody in this chamber,” Ritter said. “A lot of the best things that happen in this chamber are often unexpected relationships where two people bend, then two people agree on something you never saw coming.”

Ritter and McGee briefly met in his office, where he assigned her to seats on two committees: Human Services and Higher Education & Employment Advancement.

McGee’s arrival gives the House Democrats 96 seats in the 151-seat chamber, with the potential for a 97th. A special election will be held on Jan. 25 to choose a successor for former Rep. Caroline Simmons, D-Stamford.

She resigned for a happier reason: Her election as mayor of Stamford.