Farnen draws on Shelton roots in political victory

Brian Farnen, the newest member of the state House of Representatives, may be representing Fairfield, but he continues to enjoy strong support in his hometown of Shelton.

Farnen, a Republican, won the special election Jan. 14 to fill Fairfield’s open seat in the state House by 79 votes, 2,460 to 2,378, according to unofficial totals, over Democrat Jennifer Leeper. The Republican victory, combined with Democrats holding on to a seat in the other special election in eastern Connecticut, means no change in the Democratic legislative majority.

“I was so excited,” said Farnen about his victory in a “Democrat-leaning” district. “This was all thanks to a great group of people helping out. And the significant number of volunteers that came to help me from Shelton meant so much.”

Farnen will fill the 132nd House seat vacated by First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick after she successfully won the town’s chief executive job in November. Democratic leaders said her enthusiastic campaigning for Farnan was likely the difference in the race.

Farnen ran on a platform of bringing jobs to Connecticut — citing his work as general counsel for the Connecticut Green Bank. He said he wanted to work across the aisle to find compromise among Republicans and Democrats, something he said he feels is strengthened from his time on the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting.

“I brought a positive message about turning around this state,” said Farnen. “People are hurting and want change. I want to work for that. I want to be part of the solution.”

Farnen praised support from friends like Shelton lawmakers and now-fellow House members Ben McGorty, R-122, and Jason Perillo, R-113, as well as his family, headed by his parents, Jim and JoAnn Farnen, who have lived in Shelton for 54 years.

“Shelton is about community,” said Farnen, who grew up walking the halls of Mohegan and Shelton Intermediate schools and playing Pop Warner on city football fields. “The camaraderie is incredible.”

Farnen said his interest in politics was cultivated in Shelton, where he was a member of the Shelton Republican Town Committee

“My father worked the night shift at BIC, a blue-collar job, a manufacturing job, and he put food on the table, put three kids through college,” said Farnen. “These jobs … like my father’s … are leaving. I want that to change. My focus is on strengthening that middle class. I want to create an environment where my two children can go to college, graduate and come back here to live.”

Farnen graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in Trumbull before receiving a bachelor of arts degree in 1997 from the University of Connecticut. Farnen earned both his J.D. and master’s degree in finance in business administration from the University of Connecticut School of Law and School of Business, respectively.

During Farnen’s tenure, the Connecticut Green Bank won the prestigious 2017 Harvard Kennedy School of Government Ash Award for innovation.

In 2018, the Connecticut Law Tribune gave him the “Best In-House Counsel” of the Year Award, and he was previously named a “New Leader in the Law.”

He has served as senior attorney for United Technologies’ Sikorsky Aircraft unit, and worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington, D.C.

“People spend so much time focusing on the negatives in Connecticut ... six years of people moving out, the tax issues,” added Farnen, “but we have a lot going for us here in Connecticut. We have an extremely educated workforce, ingenuity, work ethic … I want to harness that to help turn this state around.”