State Senator Alex Kasser has resigned. She represented Greenwich, New Canaan, Stamford in the 36th Senate District.
She published a statement on Medium.com titled “Fighting For Freedom Takes Courage” and Tweeted the news Tuesday morning.
Kasser wrote that while serving Connecticut’s residents in the 36th district had been a profound honor and deep joy, she could not continue. She cited personal circumstances.
Kasser, who previously went by Alex Bergstein, won the office in 2018 when she defeated Republican Scott Frantz who was seeking a 6th term. Kasser became the first Democrat to hold the position since Horace Allen Barton had the job during the Great Depression in 1931-1932. At the time most of the issues were economic – even in Greenwich.
In November 2020, she won a second term after having been challenged by Republican Ryan Fazio.
“For nearly three years, I’ve been trying to divorce Seth Bergstein,” Kasser wrote on Medium.com “As all survivors of domestic abuse know, emancipating ourselves is an epic struggle that takes years, requires unflinching courage and all our resources — mental, physical, and financial.”
Kasser said Mr. Bergstein had used his powerful position at Morgan Stanley to enable his conduct.
“I must work even harder to fight for my freedom. Because of the enormous time and energy this consumes, I can no longer serve my constituents to my fullest ability,” she continued, adding that she could no longer either live or work in Greenwich due to the memories of two decades spent raising her children here.
“It is too painful to be in Greenwich now that I’ve been erased from their lives, just as their father promised would happen if I ever left him,” Kasser wrote.
Kasser noted that her partner Nichola Samponaro grew up in Greenwich. She said Samponaro’s family were respected members of the community for over 40 years.
“Seth Bergstein has tried to destroy her too — with lies about our relationship and harassing court motions that mention her 56 times for no relevant reason – she had nothing to do with ending my marriage,” Kasser said on Medium.com.
Kasser who came out as gay and publicly shared news of her relationship with Nichola Samponaro in May 2019, received countless messages of support.
While she credited Samponaro as a source of strength during her personal battle, Kasser said Samponaro had been publicly shamed.
She championed Jennifer’s Law, which was passed by the Senate in May with a 35-1 vote. It the definition of domestic violence in state law to include “coercive control,” including in the definition of domestic violence threatening, humiliating, or intimidating acts that harm a person and deprive them of their freedom.
Kasser has been a champion of women’s rights since she was first elected, including at a rally against several highly restrictive abortion laws passed mostly in southern states.
She talked about the concept of Jennifer’s Law and coercive control at an October 2020 press conference at the Historical Society.
In 2019, Kasser gave a TEDx talk at Wesleyan University, where according to the Wesleyan Argus, she talked about being shaped by patriarchal values and making a conscious decision to live fearlessly when she turned 50.
In her statement on Medium.com, Kasser wrote, “I will not stay silent as a homophobic, entitled man attacks my partner.”
“I ran for office because we need leaders who put principle before party and are loyal to facts, not factions. In court filings, Seth Bergstein accuses me of being ambitious. It is astounding that men are lauded for their ambition while women are still vilified for theirs. My ambition is to work for the emancipation and equal rights of every person and I am proud that my legislative record reflects an unwavering commitment to the principles of Truth, Justice and Democracy.”
She said she was particularly proud of introducing and passing legislation including the Parentage Act and Jennifers’ Law so that no one is shamed for who they are or trapped in an abusive situation.
“Going forward, I will continue to fight against bullying and bigotry in all its forms. Now that I’ve found my voice, I will never stop using it,” she concluded before thanking all those who have supported her.
On Tuesday evening the Greenwich DTC issued the following statement:
“The resignation of Senator Kasser is a loss for the citizens of Greenwich, the rest of the 36th senatorial district, and the entire state. She served us with distinction in Hartford, applying her intelligence, diligence, and passion for justice and fair treatment for all. Among her most noteworthy accomplishments was Jennifers’ Law, a landmark bill that extended the reach of domestic violence legislation to include coercive control, which was enacted earlier this month largely as a result of her personal effort. Greenwich Democrats thank Alex for her service, and we wish her well.”
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