On the campaign trail with DeeDee Brandt, Republican candidate for 133rd District
Published 9:44 am, Monday, October 25, 2010
Dee Dee Brandt, a former Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting member who is seeking to unseat Kim Fawcett as state representative of the 133rd General Assembly District, didn't feel the need to wear a suit or a dress to knock on doors in the Greenfield Hill area on Fairfield on Wednesday afternoon. She wore a comfortable pair of jeans.
"This is who I am," said Brandt. "I think it's important that we just be who we are."
Brandt, whose professional career includes 15 years at IBM, decided last year to throw her hat back into the political arena after seeing a number of her daughter's friends -- recent college graduates -- working jobs that didn't utilize their skills, as they were unable to find work in their respective fields.
"I said to my husband, `This has got to change,'" Brandt said.
Brandt said she is running for state representative to bring fiscal accountability, long-range economic planning and quality educational opportunities to Connecticut. She noted the Nutmeg State ranks among the bottom five across the country in various categories, including state debt per capita (third highest), cost of electricity (second highest) and state gas taxes (second highest). In addition, Connecticut was voted 45th in economic competitiveness by the American Legislative Exchange Council, as well as voted the "Least Business Friendly Legislature" by Expansion Management magazine.
Brandt highlighted these and other facts about the state as she walked door-to-door Wednesday afternoon on Old Academy Road, Golden Pond Lane and Mill Hill Road. Brandt said the Democrat super majority in Hartford needs to be broken.
A Mill Hill Road resident said one party being in control is not good for the state. Others Brandt talked to said too many people are getting hand-outs, and state workers are also getting a generous pension. One man, who didn't want to be identified, said that state workers, years ago, received a good pension because their salaries weren't comparatively as good as what they are today.
He added, "Now in the private sector, wages are almost lower than the state employees."
A majority of the doors that Brandt knocked on Wednesday -- between 3:30 and 6:15 p.m. -- were never opened. However, the few that did greet Brandt expressed worry about their children's future.
"We have to bring down the state spending," Brandt said. "We spend more money than the revenue we have coming in." She added that businesses often shy away from Connecticut because, among other things, they don't want to get taxed significantly to help pay off the debt.
Also, she said, "You have to pay [workers] more if the company comes here, because it costs more to live here."
What Brandt heard from voters Wednesday was representative of what she has heard throughout Fairfield and Greens Farms since May. People are worried about the economy, their children's future, and many have been forced to change their lifestyle, now spending on only that which is truly necessary, as opposed to wants or desires.
"The issues are the same. It doesn't matter if you live on Villa Avenue or Old Academy," Brandt said.
As Brandt has walked her district she has informally found that at least one adult out of every eight homes is either unemployed or structurally unemployed, meaning that they are now making less than they made before. In some cases, wives have had to find a job to bring in some income to the home, where the husband was once the breadwinner.
Brandt visited homes of both Democrats and Republicans. Some of the driveways she walked seemed as long as roads in other parts of town. In a few cases, a walk up and down a driveway totaled four to five minutes. At two of the homes, there wasn't anyone home. At the third, a person answered. Brandt was ready to try to win him over but before she could begin, he said he couldn't vote because he is a foreigner. That home was subsequently crossed off as a place not to stump for a vote in the future.
Brandt said that Connecticut has lost 100,000 jobs in the last two years. That figure, she told a constituent, doesn't even include the hundreds who used to commute to New York and lost their jobs.
"As the economy continues to remain stagnant, job creation must be our chief priority," said Brandt. "Now is not the time for more government programs funded out of your wallet. Instead, there is no greater solution to economic troubles than creating good jobs for people who work hard. Now is the time for immediate solutions to do just that and for a long-term vision to get Connecticut back to work and improve our quality of life."
While Brandt's opponent, Kim Fawcett, has twice won election as state representative for the 133rd General Assembly, Brandt is not too worried.
"If I can have them pay attention to the issues, I feel they'll end up voting for me," she said.