Pat Llodra grew up in a family farm, one of eight children in South Hadley, MA who remembered boarding a bus with her sister to travel into Connecticut to work in one of several tobacco farms in the state.
Her father was a native of Ireland whose formal schooling ended in the fourth grade though he was a lifelong avid reader. Her mother, on the other hand, was the daughter of an Episcopalian minister whose family originally came from England.
Llodra said that although she grew up poor, she set her sights on higher education and became the first member of her family to attend college – though it took her 17 years between working and raising a family before she completed her undergraduate degree.
She has worked as a waitress, bartender, teacher, principal, executive coach and Newtown first selectman, for which she is seeking a second term.
“It’s work I think I do well,” the Republican incumbent said in explaining why she is running for re-election.
Llodra is known for working in her office through the weekend, and having just turned 69-years-old, she said she's not ready to leave office.
“I still have tremendous energy,” she said.
Llodra cited the town's finances as the single most pressing issue facing the town.
"Our revenue stream is not a sufficent match for our needs," she said. "We have increasing pressure on our operating budget. We also have demands on our capital improvement plan that are outstripping our capacity to serve in terms of tax revenue."
Llodra said that she wants to reach a better balance in the ratio of residents and businesses in town as a way to alleviate the tax burden on individuals while increasing revenue needed to cover town services.
Former town finance director and current Legislative Council member Ben Spragg said that in the 30 years in which he has worked for Newtown, he has had a chance to work with several first selectmen and thinks highly of Llodra.
“I would put her as one of the town’s top first selectman,” Spragg said. “She’s proven herself. Her communication skills are outstanding. She listens. She actually hears what people are saying.”
Most town residents know her best from her daily updates she sent in the days following Tropical Storm Irene and the October storm.
“It was an outstanding example of her hands-on approach to town government,” Spragg said.
Llodra’s education background as a former superintendent also helps her sift through some of the town and school issues facing Newtown, Spragg said.
“Her ability to work collaboratively with the school system – it will help better manage the limited resources,” he said.
Education has always been important to her, Llodra said. After graduating from high school, she became the first member of her family to go on to college, entering the University of Bridgeport where she met her husband. In her junior year, she quit school, married and worked while her husband finished his schooling.
They had decided that only one of them could be in school at any one time due to the financial pressures. At one point, they were working five jobs among them, she said.
The couple has two grown children, Michael and Beth, and a daughter, Sharon, who died a couple of years ago. Llodra said that outside of work, she and her husband, Robert, spend as much time with their seven grandchildren as possible.
Spragg said he is not surprised Llodra is seeking a second term as many of her predecessors have.
“They get caught up in it. They start getting involved and see things are not entirely finished,” he said.
Correction: Pat Llodra's work experience includes being a principal and advisor to principals and superintendents. An earlier version of this article misstated some of her work experience.