WALLINGFORD — Former Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. announced Thursday that he is dropping out of the race against incumbent State Rep. Mary Mushinsky to run for judge of probate.
“I want to serve the people of Wallingford in whatever capacity they want me, but I think this is the best fit for my skills,” Farrell, a Republican, said in an announcement of the shift.
Farrell’s announcement comes after Probate Judge Philip A. Wright Jr., who has served for nearly 30 years, recently announced that he will be retiring and not seeking re-election in November for another four year term. Wright, a Democrat, won a contest against Farrell Jr. for probate judge in 1993.
Republican Steve Allinson and Democrat Jaime Hine have also announced they are seeking their party’s nomination for probate judge.
Probate judges preside over cases including executing wills and trusts, child custody and appointing conservators for those with intellectual disabilities.
“A probate judge must have three essential qualities - compassion, caring, and competency – and the people of Wallingford know I possess these,” Farrell said.
Farrell filed with state election officials to run for the 85th House district on March 8, setting him up to challenge longtime Democratic incumbent Mary Mushinsky. The district covers central and southwestern Wallingford.
Farrell, a licensed attorney for 29 years, served as Commissioner of Consumer Protection and chairman of the Connecticut State Liquor Control Commission under Republican Gov. Jodi Rell. He was also a member of the Wallingford Town Council from 1996 through 2011.
Since leaving office, he has started his own law firm specializing in liquor licensing law. His father, Gerald Farrell Sr., serves as town attorney for Wallingford.
“In my private practice, I have dealt with many of these matters on behalf of my clients who have sought my professional advice to ensure that their legal rights and those they love are fully protected,” Farrell said.
Allinson is also seeking the Republican nomination for probate judge, meaning there will be a party caucus in the next week and possibly a primary to determine the party’s candidate in November. Allinson, who founded Allinson and Associates nearly 15 years ago, specializes in probate law.
“I've dedicated my life to this vulnerable population of our community and I've done everything I can to help and I just think this is the logical next step to continue what I've been doing,” he said.
Probate law requires compassionate, patience and creative thinking on the part of judges and attorneys, Allinson added.
Allinson has also served on the town Planning and Zoning Commission for several years, is a member of the Wallingford Committee on Aging and gives talks at the library and senior center on probate law.
Hine has also announced his candidacy for probate judge. He is currently a partner at the law firm Mulvey, Oliver, Gould & Crotta, in Hamden, where he practices probate law and civil litigation.
"I have almost 20 years of experience in probate law and civil litigation, two specialties that are essential to being an effective probate judge,” Hine said in an announcement of his candidacy. “In their most difficult times, children and families must know that the judge presiding over their case has the experience, knowledge and temperament to decide their case in a respectful and appropriate manner.”
In the announcement, Hine said that he has handled hundreds of estates in his career, including $20 million in estates over the past five years. He’s also served on the executive committee of the Estates and the Probate Section of the Connecticut Bar Association.
Hine serves on the board of managers for the Wallingford Public Library and is an alternate on the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Republican Town Committee Chairperson Chris DiGenova said the committee has started discussions about a candidate to run in Farrell’s place for the 85th House district.