Ellen Camhi, 73, former Stamford Democratic City Committee Chairwoman, passed away Tuesday, February 26, 2013.
On Friday, February 25, 2011, Governor Dannel P. Malloy appointed Camhi to serve as a member of the State Board of Education. Camhi began her career in the field of public education as an elementary school teacher in New York and Connecticut.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy this afternoon released the following statements on the passing of Ellen Camhi:
"Ellen Camhi was a dear friend of mine who tirelessly dedicated herself to her community and to public service. She had charisma and was a passionate leader with character and vision," Malloy said. "Her impact was profound – she served as a mentor to me and inspired my career in public service, in addition to that of Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald, Attorney General George Jepsen and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, along with countless others. There’s no doubt that she will be missed by many. Cathy and I send our heartfelt condolences to her family and all of her friends in the Stamford community.”
Camhi became active in Stamford politics in 1970, when drafted by a group of community parents to run for the Stamford Board of Education. She was elected to four terms on that Board including a term of President. Following the School Board, in 1983 Camhi was elected as chair of the Stamford Democratic City Committee, a position she has held for 28 years.
Camhi united the Party, grew its membership and assembled a formidable political organization that won innumerable elections. She promoted the careers of an impressive array of political figures, culminating in the election of former Stamford Mayor Dannel P. Malloy as Governor, former Stamford State Senator Richard Blumenthal as United States Senator, and former Stamford State Senator George Jepsen as Attorney General.
Andrew McDonald, the former State Senator, was appointed as Counsel to the Governor and saw longtime Democratic State Legislator, Carlo Leone, elected to the State Senate.
"She's a legend around here, she's the one who put the party together in the 60s and 70s. She took over the Democratic party and it completely changed the city of Stamford," said John Mallozzi, current chairman of the DCC. "She molded a number of young up-and-comers into leaders. She's someone who really helped shape Stamford in that way. I will miss her. She's done a great number of things for the city and the party."
Mallozzi said strong educational institutions in Stamford were always something which Camhi considered a priority. He said she supported strong schools, which would lead to a strong work force and a strong society.
Jerry Pia, former RTC chairman and current member of the Stamford Board of Education, called her a mentor, one of his biggest supporters and one of his best friends. He said she loved her husband and two boys and all her grandchildren.
"She was one of the biggest proponents for education this city has ever seen," Pia said. "I knew her for 40 years. When I got involved with the board of education, we became friends right away. One of the first things she ever told me was we need to learn to agree to disagree. It was such a nice way to operate."
Pia said she was as big a supporter of education on the city board as off, and would eventually have an impact on state and national committes for education or political movements. He joked about their strong friendship in spite of differing political views.
"I would be there working the PA as she opened Democratic Headquarters," he said. "I was at more Democratic parties than most democrats because of her."
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also weighed in on the loss.
"Ellen was always a lot of fun but she was also a true leader," Wyman said. "What I really admired about her was that she spoke up for what she believed in and she truly cared about people – especially her family."
[An erroneous date from an earlier story on Ellen Camhi has been remedied.]