MADISON — John-Michael Parker, a Democrat who lost his 2018 run for state representative by a razor-thin margin, will seek the 101st District seat again this year, launching his campaign with a kickoff event at the American Legion in Madison Friday.
Republican Noreen Kokoruda currently represents Madison and Durham in the Connecticut House, and has done so for nine years, after winning a special election in 2011. She beat Parker by just 18 votes in 2018, according to the Secretary of the State’s election center.
Kokoruda did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Parker was unavailable for an interview.
The 31-year-old was born and raised in Madison but spent some time out-of-state after graduating college. “I moved back to Madison because I want to build my future here in this place that I love, but it’s going to take real structural changes in Hartford to make that possible,” Parker said in a 2018 campaign video posted to Twitter .
The video shows Parker, 30 at the time, riding his bike around town, carrying campaign brochures and talking to residents in their homes and yards. He is pictured in conversation with such notable local figures as Katie Stein, chairwoman of the Madison Board of Education, and Al Goldberg, a Madison selectman.
During his 2018 run, Parker emphasized the need to make health care affordable and get the budget “under control so rising taxes don’t drive people away,” according to the video.
And, Parker said, “We need to protect the things that make Madison and Durham so special in the first place, from our schools, to our environment, to our quality of life.”
The Madison Democratic Town Committee has not officially endorsed Parker, a process that would take place in spring, said DTC Chairwoman Joan Walker, who also serves as Parker’s campaign treasurer.
“There is no formal endorsement at this point because we need to allow others to come forward,” she said. As of Thursday, No other Democratic candidate had announced their intent to seek the seat, according to Walker.
Walker shared her thoughts on Parker’s merits as a candidate, but emphasized she only spoke personally, and not as a representative of the DTC.
“Personally, I believe that John-Michael will be a very positive influence as our state representative in Harford,” Walker said, adding that he has a “fresh perspective” and a thorough “understanding of the issues that Madison and Durham face.”
Parker is a graduate of Daniel Hand High School. He graduated from Yale University in 2010 and went on to teach fourth-grade science in New York City before becoming a founding member the Future Project, an educational nonprofit.
The Madison native is now the executive director of Arts for Learning Connecticut, his LinkedIn profile indicates. The organization aims to promote accessible arts education throughout the state, according to its website.