Published 8:37 pm, Thursday, November 1, 2012
I first ran for local office because I was tired of local politicians ignoring the concerns of my friends and neighbors. After co-founding a group that successfully worked to have the public's voice included in town decisions, I started to pay attention to the Connecticut General Assembly. Connecticut has a severely unbalanced legislature that isn't representative of the majority of the residents, who just want to make a decent living, raise their families and retire in a state that is affordable. People are frustrated with the direction our state has gone in; they don't like waste, arrogance or concentrated power in one person or one party. People intuitively like balance.
My husband Peter and I grew up in Fairfield and raised our son here while we built a small heating and cooling business from nothing and grew it into a respected service company. Though small businesses are the engine of our state's economy, there are very few small business owners serving in our state legislature, I believe our voice is important in the process. In my first term, I established the Business Advisory Council of 25 small-business owners to identify unfair policies and propose helpful legislative changes.
The last two years presented a unique opportunity for the governor and legislature to restructure the way our state government works. But they simply didn't have the courage after the financial meltdown to reduce the state's massive debt and lower the 9 percent unemployment rate. Instead, they spent more, taxed more and made our state an even less hospitable place to grow jobs.
While the chance to fundamentally reform state government was squandered, there have been success stories. When legislators work together and listen to their constituents, everyone benefits. I worked with both parties to pass a bipartisan jobs bill that included provisions to empower small business growth; strengthened anti-bullying policies for our students; tightened domestic violence laws to better protect victims; expanded "Live Here, Work Here" legislation which allows Connecticut college graduates to put a portion of their taxes toward a down payment on their first home; and increased penalties for those convicted of repeated animal abuse.
Gov. Malloy's "education reform" legislation was a major topic of debate this past year. Unfortunately, the governor's original proposal placed all the blame for the achievement gap on teachers. Having spoken extensively with teachers and parents over the past year, and having served for six years on the Fairfield Board of Education, I feel that a more balanced approach is called for. I hope to continue serving on the Education Committee so I can utilize what I've learned to refine and improve the education reform law before it is implemented statewide.
While working for Congressman Chris Shays I helped Fairfield constituents cut through red tape. When you spend years fighting bureaucracy, you learn to quickly identify what's wrong and to find solutions.
I have made it my top priority to listen and learn from my constituents. I strive to be accessible to my constituents through town hall and "legislator on your corner" meetings, newsletters, email and telephone communication. You have said loud and clear that you want your representatives to decrease spending, fight high taxes, reform our schools, improve our mass transit system and create the conditions for job growth.
You have told me clearly that you want an honest and transparent government.
During my first term, I've advocated for and offered proposals to get our state back on track and reduce wasteful spending, including straightening out the state's unemployment compensation fund, privatizing some state services and offering proposals that give small-business owners a break. I was appointed to the Shoreline Legislators Task Force to preserve the shoreline and to identify and implement innovative coastal-management techniques. I'm also working with constituents on suicide prevention, a justice center for victims of domestic violence, labeling for genetically modified foods, services for autistic children and adults, animal welfare and mandating that money from train and bus fare hikes is used only for mass transit improvements.
Fairfield residents are desperate for a break from the crushing tax burden and red tape that has created ever-higher barriers to entrepreneurship, job growth and the ability to retire in Connecticut.
I have a reputation for getting to the point, identifying problems, discussing the solutions with all stakeholders, developing practical plans and creating coalitions to implement those plans for change. It's a tremendous honor to represent the people of Fairfield and Southport, and I hope I've earned your trust for a second term.