DANBURY, Conn. -- Nobody knows Connecticut’s 138th District better than newly elected State Rep. Michael Ferguson. The 25-year-old Danbury Republican has spent his entire life there, has walked the streets, knocked on the doors and researched the issues.
As the freshman legislator begins his first term in Hartford, he is well aware of the responsibility he has for a territory that extends across Danbury’s west side to the New York state line and includes parts of Ridgefield and New Fairfield. “It’s a great honor and a great privilege,’’ said Ferguson, who captured 54 percent of the vote in beating Democrat Jeff Tomchik in the November election. “I understand the weight I’ve been given. I appreciate the district’s trust in me to represent them for the next two years, at least.”
- Who : Michael Ferguson, Danbury
- What : Republican in State House representing Danbury, New Fairfield and Ridgefield
- Did you know? Ferguson is also a member of the Danbury School Board and is Chairman of the Danbury Schools And Business Collaborative, a school-based mentoring program. January is National Mentoring Month. Click here to learn more.
Ferguson succeeded Jan Giegler in the seat, which has gone to Republicans in every election since 1992, except one special election in 2002 held after Mark Boughton resigned to become mayor of Danbury. Giegler won the seat in 2002, defeating the Democrat who won in the special election, with the help of a sixth-grade boy in the district who helped his future Old Hayrake Road neighbor. The boy, Ferguson, came to run her campaign when he was just 17, before he was even eligible to vote.
“I was very involved in all of her campaigns,’’ Ferguson said. “I would go knocking on doors. I would do paperwork, handed out cards, stuffed envelopes and held signs. I enjoyed helping her campaign and in the process, grew to like politics.”
Ferguson, a 2009 graduate of Danbury High, served as his class president. He served as an intern in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2013 and won his first local race that year in a race for the Danbury Board of Education. Ferguson’s term expires this year, and he is unlikely to run for re-election now that he has been elected as State Representative.
“Jan is a big role model and mentor for me,’’ Ferguson said. “With the seat open, I decided to take a shot. I always had a desire to serve and participate in the political process. Being on the Board of Education and having been an intern at the capitol four years ago showed me that if an opportunity came along, I’d love to take a shot at it.”
“Michael was instrumental in my campaigns,’’ Giegler said. “I liked to engage students, and Michael was always front and center. A lot of times people thought he was my son because he was always with me. We would design our own mailers, design our own content. He was with me knocking on doors. He’s a dedicated young man who oozes confidence, and I felt like he’d be good a good representative when I retired.”
Ferguson, and the entire legislature, has its work cut out. The state’s financial crisis is hurting residents and businesses, many of whom are fleeing because of exorbitant taxes and costs of doing business.
“We need to change the direction of Connecticut,’’ said Ferguson, who was appointed to committees on education, transportation and internship. “Voters throughout the state recognized the need for a shift. We need to turn around our economy. We need to bring jobs back, bring businesses here. We need pro growth policies. We have to look at how we fund education.”
“I think he’ll be a good legislator,’’ Giegler said. “My advice to him is you have to observe and learn the process at first. He knows a lot, but don’t think you’re going to change the world when you first get there. It’s so instrumental to work with both sides, and I think he will. I feel he’ll make a big contribution. He’s bright, he absorbs information, he’s respectful and he presents himself very well.”
Education is among Ferguson’s top priorities. Since joining the Danbury School Board, Ferguson has taken an active role in the Danbury Schools And Business Collaborative. Ferguson chairs the program, which is a school-based mentoring program that is a cooperative venture between businesses, the Danbury Board of Education, Danbury Public Schools and the community. The program is in its 27th year, one of the longest running mentoring programs in the state.
“What’s rewarding is to see the impact the mentors have on some of these students,’’ Ferguson said. “There are a lot of stories of students who were not headed down a good path. The relationship with their mentor helped them forge a better path. Being a mentor doesn’t mean that you’ll change someone’s life. It’s developing a friendship, and over several months you’ll begin to have an impact. It’s a relationship that evolves over time.”
The past few years have been a whirlwind for Ferguson, who has found himself on the political fast track. He graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2013, earned his master's degree in 2015 and works at the information desk at Danbury Hospital. Another legislator from the 138th District in Danbury, Mark Boughton, ended up as the city’s mayor and ran for governor.
Maybe Ferguson heads down the same path, maybe he doesn’t. There’s no telling how high the young man’s political ceiling is and he’s not concerned about it. His priority is representing the friends and neighbors who he has known all his life, the people he visited as a boy asking them to support his candidate.
“To have the chance to serve my neighbors and community is an honor,’’ Ferguson said. “There’s just no other way to say it. I just hope I do them proud.”
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