Danette Onofrio of New Fairfield has become a contender for the State Assembly District 108 in a seat left open by the retiring Rep. Richard Smith.

During the Democratic Convention held on May 18 she received the full endorsement of New Fairfield, Sherman, New Milford, and Danbury Democratic town committees.

“With 20 years’ experience working for a legislative body, Danette Onofrio is a strong candidate,” said Joshua Beckett-Flores, chairman of the New Fairfield Democratic Town Committee. “Hands down, she knows the ins and out of crafting and adopting legislation to meet the needs of people. We are excited to have such a qualified candidate”.

Onofrio said she is ambitious in her goals for the district.

“I want to make sure our children and families are safe, and folks have affordable healthcae,” she said in a press release Monday. “I want to strengthen working families, build the economy and improve our infrastructure.”

David Silvay, chairman of the Sherman Democratic Town Committee, described Onofrio as “an avid learner” and described her desire to enhance schools and libraries.

“And, as a kayaker, she is strong on preserving the beauty and health of Candlewood Lake, Ball Pond, and other natural and recreational resources,” Silvay said.

Onofrio’s education took a non-traditional route because she could not afford college after high school.

As a single parent in her 30s and living paycheck to paycheck, she knew that she wanted something better, she said in the release. She wanted to help people. She began to study and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree of professional studies and a master’s degree in public administration.

Onofrio’s career included not only work that improved the lives of others, but also teaching government and nonprofit leaders how to better serve their clients.

Onofrio said one of her proudest moments was when Marist College invited her to become an adjunct instructor in their School of Management.

“I’ve had the honor of teaching dedicated people who worked in every level of government and nonprofits, including the New York State Police,” she said.

Onofrio is a small business owner in New Fairfield, a volunteer for Western Connecticut SCORE, and a candidate for a Doctorate in Management and Organizational Leadership.

She said she recognizes the challenges businesses and workers face, especially during the current economic crisis.

“Now more than ever, if we are going to keep people from moving out of Connecticut, keep businesses going and restarting them, we need a representative in Hartford who has that experience,” Onofrio said. “I do.”

“It is not enough to say you will improve the economy and want higher paying jobs,” said MaryJane Lundgren, chairwoman of the New Milford Democratic Town Committee. “You must have an education in it, have experience in running a business and skills. Danette has a strong blend in all three.”

In addition, Onofrio’s background includes managing a public health crisis.

Onofrio said she believes in a strong community and is passionate about volunteering.

She recently rolled made hundreds of masks for local healthcare providers and the community, is a library director for the New Fairfield Public Library and a member of the Friends of the Library, is a member of the Woman’s Club of Danbury/New Fairfield , is secretary for the New Fairfield DTC and has participated in Safe Walk for The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury.

She was a 4-H Leader for 15 years, co-founder and director of a nonprofit for individuals living with learning disabilities and president of the board of the Art Empowerment Project.