Political Moves

Political Moves

In an election where Republicans of all stripes fell to the roar of the Democratic onslaught, one Sarah Lawrence alumna quietly stepped aside.

For 18 years, Julia Wasserman CCE ’70 had represented Newtown, Connecticut, as a Republican in the state legislature, and at age 84, she decided it was time.

“It’s going to be a major change, of course,” she says. The job, not intended as full-time, in fact demanded many days—and nights—of meetings and hearings. Wasserman co-chaired the Program Review and Investigations Committee, which reviews the operation of state agencies and proposes legislation to address issues it finds.

Wasserman also served on the appropriations and public health committees. She notes that Republican representatives, outnumbered 44 to 107 in the last session, needed to take on more committee assignments.

What will she miss most?

“The camaraderie and the work,” Wasserman says. “It’s very intensive. There are some wonderful people up there—I’ve made good friends.”

And what won’t she miss?

“The ride on 84,” —a highway often clogged with trucks.

Will Wasserman’s retirement lead to rest? Hardly.

She intends to devote more time to her board positions at the Columbia School of Public Health and Beardsley Zoo.

Her home burned down in 2004 and was rebuilt, but “I have never really moved in completely,” she says.

And Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell has nominated Wasserman as a part-time member of the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles. She plans to accept the appointment if approved by the legislature, and that will be a commitment of about 120 days a year.

“It’s always interested me,” she says. “I have a degree in public health. I had started several studies on mental health issues, and recidivism and jail has a lot to do with mental health issues.”

As state representative, she organized a Public Safety Committee to keep Newtown citizens informed about what is happening at Garner, the state prison located in town.

Another interest, returning to school to finish her PhD in public health or to pursue her love of American history, may have to wait.

by Lisa W. Romano