Politics can be polarizing, divisive and sometimes downright nasty. This is especially true in the weeks leading up to Election Day as candidates make their last-ditch pitch for the privilege of representing us in government.

But politics need not always be a battle ground. Now, more than ever, with the severity and urgency of issues before us, it must be a common ground.

Some are saying this is one of the most important elections in recent history. Perhaps it is. Therefore, we must elect individuals to government who will represent us with honesty and integrity and without ulterior motives or preconceived notions. We must elect leaders who have demonstrated that they can work together -- with those on the far left, far right and everywhere in between -- instead of just saying that is what they will do.

Ultimately, the decision is yours to make as to who you believe will best represent you. Still, we offer our opinions based on our insight into the candidates and the issues.

132nd District

Tom Drew's record on the environment, transportation and public health issues is admirable. But we believe it's time for new blood in the 132nd District. Brenda Kupchick has proven to be a strong voice for small businesses and families during this campaign, and she is committed to reigning in the state's spending in a responsible manner. We get the sense that Kupchick truly wants to make a difference, to bring about positive change in Hartford, and to bring home positive results for the district. In particular, we believe Kupchick's experience as a small business owner gives her valuable insight into how state laws help and hurt. She is also familiar with the workings of government, given her experience working with former Congressman Chris Shays and state Sen. John McKinney, and therefore knows that a legislator must be a consensus-builder to be effective. For these reasons, we endorse Brenda Kupchick.

133rd District

We find incumbent Kim Fawcett's energy and enthusiasm for the job an attractive quality for a state representative, and have been particularly pleased with her record of support for health and family issues during her tenure. However, given the current state of Connecticut's finances, we believe DeeDee Brandt's no-nonsense, get-down-to-business approach to government is needed in Hartford now more than ever. Brandt's experience as an elected member of Fairfield's Representative Town Meeting and Board of Finance will serve her well in the Legislature, where tough decisions must be made to balance a deficit-ridden budget. Her focus on retaining and creating jobs in Connecticut -- by eliminating some of the bureaucracy and addressing the tax burdens on businesses that have earned the state such undesirable rankings -- also resonates with us. Furthermore, we believe Brandt's history of service within and strong connections to the community mean that she will represent the interests of all her constituents on the wide array of issues that are dealt with in Hartford. DeeDee Brandt has our support.

134th District

To us, it just didn't seem that Michael Murren was serious about serving as state representative. He came in the race late, chose to contact voters via the telephone instead of in person and presented a somewhat careless attitude when discussing the key issues facing the district and state. Murren stands in stark contrast to incumbent Tony Hwang, who makes an effort day-in and day-out to engage with his constituents, to support them and to make sure their voice is heard in Hartford. He is working to bridge the academic achievement gap in Connecticut and helping residents find jobs, and he is committed to making sure our tax dollars are spent wisely. We support Tony Hwang.

136th District

Voters have two good choices for this hotly contested seat. Fortunately, the candidates have distinguished themselves so that the choice is clear. On one side you have Nitzy Cohen, who is clearly committed to representing the district given the fact that she is seeking election for the second time (she lost to incumbent Joe Mioli two years ago). Cohen promises to be an outspoken representative in Hartford, one who will fight to get a better rate of return on Westport's tax dollars and work to create jobs and balance the budget. She touts her experience as an entrepreneur and degree in public administration and asserts that both will serve her well as a legislator. Indeed, they may. On the other side you have Jonathan Steinberg, who has proven to be an articulate and informed candidate with a passion for public service. Steinberg, a native of Westport, has become a respected leader through his dedication to doing his homework on the issues and for his ability to engage in constructive dialogue and to build consensus. As a member of Westport's Representative Town Meeting, he has legislative experience and a strong understanding of what it takes to get things done in government. Steinberg says he will take a careful approach to cutting spending and stimulating the state's economy. An informed, experienced legislator who has a demonstrated commitment to Westport is the best choice and that is Jonathan Steinberg.

26th District

Same players only the stakes are higher -- that is one way to look at the race between Toni Boucher and John Hartwell, who faced off for this seat two years ago. Hartwell garnered more support in Westport, but Boucher took the district. A former state representative, Boucher is right at home as a state senator. Yet as was the case two years ago, we believe Hartwell's innovative and practical thinking is just what Hartford needs -- and now more than ever. We are particularly fond of his ideas to create efficiencies through the regionalization of certain municipal and state services, as long as it is done in a manner that does not result in a lesser quality. Our issues and needs transcend the arbitrary borders of our towns, and we can benefit from the cost savings generated through consolidation. With his background in business, Hartwell is keenly aware that the state must do more to retain and create jobs, and that is must take a microscope to the budget to reveal redundancies and areas that can be cut. His consensus-building approach to solving problems is what is needed right now. Hartwell

28th District

This race and, in particular, the way in which Mitchell Fuchs and John McKinney interacted at the League of Women Voters of Fairfield's forum -- they talked and laughed with each other throughout it -- was refreshing. We commend Fuchs for stepping up to run against McKinney, the longtime incumbent, and appreciate the dialogue that he helped to create on one of the key issues this election season -- jobs. We wholeheartedly support Fuchs' stance that Connecticut -- and the nation -- must refocus our economy and create good-paying jobs in the U.S. in manufacturing and emerging industries like clean energy. However, Fuchs seems to lack a clear vision of exactly how to get there. McKinney, as minority leader, is well positioned to take up this difficult task. And we believe he is committed to finding practical solutions to Connecticut's problems. With a solid record on the environment, transportation and housing, John McKinney has earned another two years in Hartford.

A final thought

An active and informed citizenry is critical to the future of our democracy, so don't forget to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to

8 p.m.