Letters to the editor: Fairfield residents chime in on who they're supporting this election

“Cristin just gets it done”

I have known Cristin McCarthy-Vahey for 15 years. I have had the pleasure of being her constituent and working with her to resolve issues, I had, particularly with the recent quarantining due to coronavirus. Cristin always responded to my questions. When I needed help or information, she was there with the solutions. Solutions I needed to help my family to get through this difficult time without the added worry of uncertainty. I never felt alone. Cristin would call me to see how I was doing. She always asked me the question I so deeply appreciated; “How can I help?” Then she proceeded to do just that. Help.

I have been the resident of six different towns in my lifetime and in all that time, not one governmental representative ever said this to me, and truly meant it and prioritized it. Even with volunteering my time and knowledge as a local representative on the RTM, I have yet to come across anyone who can beat Cristin’s honesty, earnest concern and responses and resolutions.

Cristin does not use partisan politics as a tactic, weapon or excuse. Cristin just gets it done. I want everyone in town and in the state to understand, no matter who you support, no matter what your views, we are so lucky to have Cristin on our side as people.

I support Cristin to the moon and back and can never thank her enough for all she does and all she will do to help the people that she so obviously truly cares for.

Lauren Bove, Fairfield

Cristin McCarthy Vahey opens doors and improves lives

Cristin McCarthy Vahey is a former social worker known for her empathy and commitment to helping others. I first met Cristin when she knocked on our door as part of her constituent outreach. During our initial discussion, I confided in Cristin my desire to get more engaged in both politics and the nonprofit sector, after having spent many years working in a large corporation. Cristin kindly leveraged her extensive network to help me make important connections, and with her encouragement, my husband, David Schiffer, and I joined the Fairfield Democratic Town Committee.

Cristin also introduced us to individuals who worked at The Triangle Community Center (TCC), which provides services to the LGBTQ+ community in Connecticut. Elliot Leonard, a TCC board member, became a friend and mentor. He and his husband, Roger Litz, are the founders of the newly launched Leonard-Litz Foundation, which will support the LGBTQ+ community by funding nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations in the Northeast U.S.. Elliot and Roger recently appointed me the executive director of the Foundation, which will begin its first funding cycle by early 2021.

All of these positive outcomes were set in motion the day Cristin knocked on our door, and are a testament to Cristin’s passion for helping others. Cristin moves purposefully and passionately to address the compelling issues facing her constituents. Her energy, her drive, and her boundless empathy, which she demonstrates daily through her work in state government, make her a personal hero of mine. For these reasons and more, I am thrilled to endorse Cristin McCarthy Vahey as my candidate for House of Representatives District 133.

Daryl Duarte, Fairfield resident

Supporting Hwang

Tony Hwang is clearly the best candidate to represent our community as State Senator. Actively listening and constantly interacting with his constituents, Tony has a proven track record helping and assisting fellow citizens, most recently exemplified by his vocal opposition to developers’ inflicting and weaponizing 8-30g upon local neighborhoods in Fairfield. Known and respected here and in Hartford, Tony’s commitment and support of education as well as his gratitude and dedication to those performing essential services improves our area’s quality of life. Inspired and motivated by those he represents, Tony prioritizes people and solutions, not political parties and pandering to who’s in charge in Hartford or Washington. Possessing the compassionate characteristics, common sense and financial responsibilities similar to my mother, former Fairfield First Selectwoman Jacky Durrell, I can think of no one better prepared in these evolving times to represent us than Tony Hwang.

Alex Durrell, Fairfield

Re-elect state Representative Laura Devlin

I’m writing wholeheartedly and enthusiastically in support of State Representative Laura Devlin, a respectful, intelligent, tireless and hard-working leader in Hartford. She was instrumental in educating CT residents all over the State about the complex facts regarding the TOLLS issue and the Special Transportation Fund. I attended her very first informational forum, after I had done my own research first on this issue. She was factual and made everyone feel comfortable, no matter what side of the issue they were on, and didn’t end the meeting until everyone’s questions were answered. She tirelessly held at least 20 meetings around the entire state in the evening after already putting in a full day of work.

We get Federal funding for NOT having tolls as part of a special agreement from the Stratford toll accident many years ago.

We pay one of the highest gas taxes in the country which is supposed to go towards the transportation fund. $1 billion of this has been diverted for other spending during the last 20 years.

Numerous expenses were tossed into the transportation fund including pensions. They should no longer be included in this fund and it should be used entirely for our infrastructure needs.

It’s a very complex issue and nobody should be adding yet another tax onto CT residents, especially a tax for driving to work as many cannot afford it. CT is the 2nd highest taxed state in the country yet we rank 48th in fiscal solvency. That screams mismanagement of our tax dollars.

Recently, that 4 letter word, TOLL, has emerged again. Many current legislators and candidates are pro tolls for cars and trucks including Cristin McCarthy Vahey, Jennifer Leeper, Michelle McCabe and Carla Volpe. Please remember Connecticut this election!

Cathy Politi, Fairfield

Vote for McCabe is vote against gun violence

I became a survivor of gun violence on February 2nd, 2005 when my parents, Tim & Kim Donnelly were shot and killed our family jewelry store located in downtown Fairfield. It was a store that that they loved in a community they loved being a part of. Like the 37,000 annual gun deaths in America, theirs was preventable. Gun violence prevention legislation is crucial in keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. It is critical that those we elect are dedicated to being true leaders in gun violence prevention.

It is for that reason that I am voting for Michelle McCabe for Connecticut’s 28th Senate District. What sets Michelle apart from others? She does not show up simply to be seen. Her leadership is driven by empathy for others. Michelle cares about getting to the root of problems and she shows up with her sleeves rolled up ready to work alongside others.

The inaction of federal government on gun violence makes our choices at the local level even more important. As a survivor of gun violence, people often ask me what can be done. Voting for leaders who enact policies shown to be effective in reducing gun violence is a first step. For Connecticut’s 28th Senate District, that means voting for Michelle McCabe.

Tara Donnelly Gottlieb

Everytown for Gun Safety Survivor Fellow and Moms Demand Action volunteer, Easton resident

Support Cristin McCarthy Vahey: She is grounded in what matters

Over the last six years I have spent a great deal of time at the state capitol advocating for improved food and environmental policy in CT. I learned about the importance of advocacy in 2013 when I led the effort to pass a GMO labeling law and most recently while working to ban a toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos. It is empowering to learn about the impact of using our voice, but I also learned that our voice is only powerful if there are state legislators willing to hear us. Cristin McCarthy Vahey not only hears us, but takes action to ensure that our ideas, our passions and our concerns are heard above the noise in Hartford. Not only has Cristin supported the issues I am advocating for, but I have seen her advocating on education, transportation and fiscal issues.

Cristin has worked diligently to make sure she is in a position to bring our voice to Hartford. She doesn’t worry if she is in photos or in press releases because she is too busy doing the work of the people. While you or I may not always agree with Cristin on everything, she always listens to all sides of an issue, which has earned her the utmost respect from Democrats and Republicans alike. Most importantly, Cristin is a partner in Hartford, in a way that few elected officials understand. She knows that our government works best when we the people work with our elected officials to achieve results that serve us, not special interests trying to dictate policy. If you are in Cristin’s district, consider yourself incredibly blessed. Whether you are voting in person or by mail, don’t miss the opportunity to vote for Cristin, a genuine leader who is motivated by making the world a better place for all of us.

Tara Cook-Littman

Leeper has record of leadership

I am writing to urge Fairfielders in the 132nd District to vote for Jennifer Leeper for state representative. Jenn has a proven record of leadership on Fairfield’s Board of Education. As a former RTM member, I would often reach out to Jenn with constituent concerns or questions. Jenn consistently showed her intelligence, thoughtfulness, and compassion in each response.

As a former policy analyst at the state Department of Education, Jenn has the perfect background to advocate for our children in Hartford. Her focus on data-driven solutions to problems is exactly the type of approach we need in Hartford now more than ever.

Please vote for Jennifer Leeper on November 3.

Philip Pires, Fairfield, CT

Jenn Leeper values sound government over sound bites

Who would you rather have in Hartford: a politician or someone committed to governing? Jenn Leeper—running for State Representative in CT’s 132nd House District— is committed to governing, prioritizing thoughtful policies over partisan politics. Sound bites are not her concern. Sound government is. She understands that just saying “No,” is not what government is about. She knows that, if you’re going to disagree with proposals, you need to come back with ideas and plans for solving problems and dealing with issues. Jenn has spent a career focusing on untying complex problems to identify the core issues that make them up—and then developing plans and programs on how to affect real change. She’s committed to working tirelessly to rebuild Connecticut’s economy, strengthen education for all our children, and protect our environment. She is an independent thinker who believes that we can do better in this crucial moment for our state—and is committed to new ideas and wiser policies. Jenn has my vote for State Rep. I hope you’ll consider giving her yours, as well.

Carlisle Spivey, Fairfield

COVID-19 not the only epidemic

As a clinical psychologist and public health professor, my work is at the intersection of epidemiology and mental health. Along with many others in my field, I am very concerned about the current epidemic of mental health problems. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of mental disorders was very high, and clinical depression was the number one cause of disability among 15 to 44 year olds. Current estimates are that nearly 50% of Americans experience a diagnosable mental health disorder at some point in their lives. School-aged children and college students are experiencing emotional and mental difficulties at record levels.

Academic pressures, increased screen time, and comparisons through social media are just a few of the recent societal changes that are putting today's children at elevated risk for mental difficulties. Some mental health experts view the COVID-19 pandemic as a collective trauma leading to widespread anxiety and depression, potentially making children more vulnerable to chronic mental health problems for years to come. The fact is, mental health problems were on the rise even before COVID-19. And the COVID-19 crisis is making the need for mental health services even greater.

There are many interventions for people struggling with mental health problems: empirically-supported psychotherapies, medications, and school support systems can all help. But we need to increase access to these services. We need systems that provide affordable mental health treatment, and we need prevention programs aimed specifically at school-aged children and young adults.

For that reason, I support Michelle McCabe for State Senate. Michelle has identified specific policy priorities to improve mental health services. On her short list is reform to allow more affordable access to mental health screening, treatment, and prevention programs.

If you share my concerns about mental health, please consider voting for Michelle McCabe.

Marney A. White, PhD, MS

Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and of Psychiatry, Yale School of Public Health, Fairfield Resident

Leeper for the 132nd

I met Jennifer Leeper four years ago - she reached out to me early in 2017 because I was a Fairfield Board of Education (BoE) member. She was interested in running for one of the BoE seats that was open in November, and wanted to talk to someone on the Board, to get a sense of what it entailed. I was a little wary that someone I’d never heard of, who didn’t even have children in the school district yet, would be willing to step up for what can be at times an arduous job. But we met and I quickly became a convert. Jenn was smart, thoughtful, interested, open-minded and energetic. She was aware that, as a political newcomer, she had a long and difficult road to getting elected, but felt she had the experience, drive and determination to make it happen. Ten months later she won a seat, as the second highest vote-getter of ALL town-wide candidates that year.

Jennifer Leeper is a valuable BoE member -- doing her homework, asking insightful questions, and passionately advocating for our schools. She became Chair of the newly formed BoE Finance committee. I will miss her on the Board if she wins the 132nd State Representative seat this November, but I believe her talents and abilities will help Fairfield in this new capacity. Her training in public policy at the University of Chicago, her work on policy and data analysis for the CT State Department of Education, and her willingness to find bipartisan consensus make her an excellent candidate.

I cannot vote for Jenn myself because I live in a different district, but I’m enthusiastically asking all 132nd District voters to please vote for her on Tuesday, November 3. The polls will be open from 6AM-8PM. There are absentee ballots available at Town Hall if you are not going to be in town or are concerned about COVID.

We will have an intelligent, motivated voice in Hartford with Jennifer Leeper - please vote for her on Election Day!

Jessica Gerber, Fairfield

Farnen serves “district with common-sense, compassion and dedication”

Before I was elected First Selectwoman, I had the honor of serving the 132nd district as your State Representative for nearly a decade. In January, Brian Farnen succeeded me, and has been serving our district with common-sense, compassion and dedication.

During the past nine months, I’ve watched Brian navigate the issues caused by the pandemic including helping constituents with unemployment claims, addressing concerns of our small businesses and parents while also providing his help to local agencies including Operation Hope.

Similarly, Brian has been a strong partner to my administration and has been helping us problem solve in our COVID-19 world.

I’ve seen firsthand Brian’s dedication and persistence - and during these difficult times, is when leadership matters.

Brian is an strong advocate for our schools, safer streets and smart, strategic investments that benefit Fairfield and its taxpayers.

I know how crucial it is to have a balance in our government and a leader in Hartford who is able to build consensus, find solutions and lead on issues important to Fairfield.

We need leaders, especially now, who will restore our State’s economic prosperity, fix our crumbling infrastructure, demand government accountability and results. Brian’s experience, his ability to get things done and work for common-sense solutions to real-life problems will continue to serve our community well.

I hope you will join me in supporting Brian Farnen on Election Day.

Brenda Kupchick, Fairfield First Selectwoman

Supporting Cristin McCarthy Vahey

As a former member of the Fairfield Board of Education, RTM and a current member of the Fairfield Board of Finance, I have had the pleasure to work with and to know Cristin McCarthy Vahey. Cristin is smart, conscientious, well-grounded, compassionate, a patriot (she is the wife, daughter and granddaughter of military veterans), a mother and a terrific public servant dedicated to serving Fairfield and Connecticut.

I have seen first-hand that Cristin’s decision-making process on issues affecting all of us is not done lightly or in haste but instead is methodical, intelligent and well-reasoned-exactly what all of us should expect from our public servants.

During these difficult and uncertain times, Cristin is exactly what Fairfield needs: a steady voice in Hartford protecting Fairfield’s interests.

I strongly endorse Cristin McCarthy Vahey and I urge the voters in the 133rd House District to reelect her on election day.

John Mitola, Fairfield

Vote Jennifer Leeper for state representative

In these unprecedented and unpredictable times, our votes matter more than ever. When I fill out the ballot line for State Representative for the 132nd District, I will be enthusiastically choosing Jennifer Leeper, and I urge you to do the same.

Put simply, Jenn is a treasure for Fairfield. She is passionate about our town, and she doesn’t just will us to succeed, she puts that desire into action every day. She has shown leadership and independence on our Board of Education, working in a bipartisan way as the Chair of its newly-formed Finance Committee to handle the tough work of funding our children’s education. She has been a strong voice in challenging discussions concerning the budget, redistricting, school facilities, and the response to COVID-19.

Jenn comes from a family tradition of public service, and she is one of the people who inspired me to serve our town through public office myself. I have seen her speak countless times with our voters and with the families of school-age children for whom she has responsibility on the Board of Ed. She wants what’s best for them no less than for her own children who are growing up in Fairfield’s public schools. Throughout her campaign for State Representative, Jenn has continued to demonstrate the diligence, relentless work ethic, and open-mindedness that are her hallmarks. She thoroughly researches the issues; seeks out different perspectives; gets to the bottom of her constituents’ concerns; and focuses on solutions.

As a State Representative, Jenn will put these skills to work solving problems for us. She’ll also be armed with her Masters in Public Policy and her years of policy experience at the Connecticut Department of Education. In Hartford, Jenn will get to work making sure we get our fair share of state funding; pursuing loan forgiveness for our state’s top college grads who put their skills to work here; improving our rail service and infrastructure; and creating jobs. Jenn will fight for tax relief for our seniors; investment for our small businesses; gun violence prevention for our safety; and green jobs and clean energy for our planet and economy. I wholeheartedly endorse her to be our next State Representative.

Lenny Braman

Commissioner, Fairfield Town Plan & Zoning Commission