Southington mourns 8-term state legislator Ann Dandrow

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

Southington’s Ann Dandrow passed away last Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017 at age 80. She was a long time Southington lawmaker, advocate, and pioneer.

After moving to Southington in 1970, Dandrow began her political career on the Board of Education (BOE) and hit the ground running. She moved on to serve with the Town Council, and was elected as the first female chairperson in 1982.

“She set the tone for future women to get involved in the community,” said Andy Meade, who served 28 years as a fellow Republican on the Town Council, during which Dandrow was the chair. “She was very involved and very dedicated.”

In 1986, Dandrow won a seat in the Connecticut House of Representatives, serving in the 30th district where she represented Southington and Berlin until 2002. During the course of her 16-year run, she was named Legislator of the Year in 1994.

During her time in the House, Dandrow was appointed to various committees and held leaderships roles such as Assistant House Minority Whip and Ranking Member of the Committee on Human Services. She was also a President of the Order of Women Legislators (OWL).

Dandrow is known for spearheading and championing the Safe Haven Bill which became a model for the entire country. This bill established a procedure for the safe and anonymous surrender of infants by those mothers who felt that they could not care for their babies. It is estimated that this single piece of legislation has saved hundreds of babies since it was enacted.

Former Democratic Town Councilor Art Secondo said that Dandrow “was like a mother-image politician,” always understanding and kind to her Southington constituents.

Dandrow’s lengthy political career continued with great force as she tirelessly served the Southington community and impacted residents throughout the state. She was a founder of Help Us Grow (HUG) in Southington, which gave job opportunities to those with physical and intellectual disabilities. Meade said that she was seen in so many places throughout town, and worked tirelessly.

Dandrow was the Southington Republican Party chair, and served on the Charter Commission Board, Fire Board, and was currently serving on the Southington Senior Commission. “Dandrow was an outstanding member of the Republican Party and was always understanding of the other side,” Secondo said.

Board of Education chair Brian Goralski opened last week’s meeting with a moment of silence in honor of Dandrow’s passing.

“She was a volunteer in a variety of capacities in Southington, and most importantly to this board was her strong advocacy for children,” Goralski said. He told the crowd about her “strong level of advocacy at the state level for special education, services to all students, and just all-around advocacy.”

The well-known politician was laid to rest in Oak Hill Cemetery on Monday morning. She is remembered for her service to this town and the State of Connecticut, having served 16 years in the General Assembly and being the first female chair of Southington’s Town Council.

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