John graduated from East Hartford High School in 1967 and from Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in 1971. He was later selected by Dr. Edward Zigler, the creator of Head Start, to be a Senior Fellow at the Yale Bush Center for Child Development.
Before entering Congress, John was a high school history teacher and athletic coach and then owner of a small local insurance company. He served on the East Hartford Board of Education and the East Hartford Town Council. In 1982, he was elected to the Connecticut State Senate, beginning a 12-year tenure representing East Hartford, South Windsor, East Windsor, and Ellington. In addition, he served as Senate President Pro Tempore for eight years from 1987 to 1995. As a state legislator, John was known as a unifier who could end gridlock by bringing together his colleagues. This culminated in the nation’s first family medical leave act which would later serve as a model for the federal law.
John and his wife Leslie have three children (Carolyn, Laura, and Raymond), who are all proud to be life-long residents of East Hartford.