Erick Russell Makes History as the First Black Gay Statewide Elected Official in Connecticut
Updated: Jan 13
News & Opinion
Article Update (1/13/23) - *Editor's Note: We previously reported that Connecticut treasurer-elect Erick Russell became the first Black openly gay man to be elected to a statewide position in the U.S., however, we redact our initial report after confirming that Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Devante Lewis became the first to make history with the title as he assumed office before Russell on Jan. 1st, 2023. Erick Russell was sworn in and assumed office on January 4, 2023. Congratulations to both gentlemen on winning their elections and for their leadership!
According to BallotPedia, the day that state legislators are sworn into and assume office after they are elected varies from state-to-state. In 34 states, legislators who are elected in November don't assume office until the following year, while in 16 states, legislators assume office before December 31 of the year in which they were elected. Please note that BP cites Lewis assuming office on Dec. 31st, 2022, but according to Davante Lewis' official Instagram, he shared that he took office on Jan. 1, 2023.
Democrat Erick Russell made history as he was sworn in on Wednesday (Jan. 4) as Connecticut state treasurer, making him the first Black member of the LGBTQ+ community to win a statewide office in Connecticut.
Currently, there are just 115 Black, openly LGBTQ+ elected officials serving in the U.S., none of whom serve in statewide positions, according to the LGBTQ Victory Institute.
With his husband Chris Lyddy by his side, Russell took the oath of office during the inauguration ceremony held at the armory in Hartford. His swearing was administered by state Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald.
As the state treasurer, Russell will be responsible for overseeing Connecticut’s nearly $45 billion in pension and trust fund assets. The treasurer also handles unclaimed property, oversees the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) college savings plan, and sits on government and quasi-public boards like the state airport authority.
Born and raised in New Haven, where he currently lives with his husband Chris, Russell has become the first New Havener in nearly four decades to hold one of the state’s elected constitutional offices. He is also the first New Havener to hold a state constitutional office since Henry “Hank” Parker retired from the treasurer position in 1986, according to the New Haven Independent.
Russell ran for election after the current treasurer, Democrat Shawn Wooden, did not seek reelection. He later won in the general election on November 8, 2022, and he advanced from the Democratic primary on August 9, 2022.
Watch his campaign video below:
Russell prides himself on being a first-generation college graduate. After graduating from the University of New Haven he went on to earn his law degree at the University of Connecticut School of Law.
According to his campaign site, Erick began practicing as an attorney at a prestigious Connecticut law firm, Pullman & Comley, where he is a partner in the firm’s Public and Private Finance Group. Russell's practice focuses on representing municipalities, state agencies and the state in financing critical infrastructure projects, such as schools, affordable housing, childcare facilities, and transportation infrastructure, managing debt and restructuring pension obligations.
Much of this work has been done directly through the Office of the Treasurer, allowing Erick a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience and inspiring him to run for the position of Connecticut state treasurer in hopes of making meaningful changes in the State.
In addition to his professional work, Erick proudly states that he is an active member in the community, serving the Democratic Party on the local, state and national levels for the past 10 years, advocating for marginalized communities, and serving as a mentor, particularly to Black and LGBTQ+ youth.
Erick Russell will assume office on January 4, 2023, and will end his term on January 6, 2027.