M. Jodi Rell

The 87th governor of Connecticut will leave a lasting legacy

As Gov. M. Jodi Rell prepares to leave the highest elected office in Connecticut for private life in her hometown of Brookfield, we offer our thanks to her for her 26 years of dedicated public service.

Rell has made her mark in Connecticut public life, first as a state representative, then lieutenant governor, then taking the reins of top leadership when former Gov. John G. Rowland resigned in disgrace in July 2004.

Only the second woman elected to lead the state as governor -- Ella T. Grasso paved the way, winning office in 1974 -- Rell's monumental challenge was to bring trustworthiness to a corrupted office.

And she met that challenge with strength, determination and confidence.

Rell restored public trust in the integrity of the highest official holders, and that will be cornerstone of her legacy as governor.

She has long been one of the most respected and popular people in state politics. As lieutenant governor, she visited every city and town in the state, displaying her warm, personal style of governance.

The people of Connecticut have loved Jodi Rell, and her public approval ratings have been stellar.

We wish she had used that support to more aggressively drive an agenda. Too often, Rell in recent years metaphorically threw up her hands in defeat to the Democratically controlled General Assembly.

Certainly it is not easy for a governor of one party to effect change through a House and Senate populated by a majority of the other party.

But Rell could have appealed directly to the people more often to generate support for her initiatives and thus put pressure on the General Assembly.

Instead, it was embarrassing that she let the Democrats' budget go into effect this year -- neither vetoing nor signing the document -- by essentially letting time run out.

With a $3.5 billion deficit looming next year, decisive leadership has been needed.

Rell's passively submitted suggestion last month that the Danbury branch of Metro-North could be closed to save money was shameful and disingenuous. She quickly backed away from that notion.

Strong support of passenger rail service has, in fact, been a hallmark of Rell's time in office. She has pushed for new rail cars, for station improvements and for rail upgrades that have, and will, benefit the thousands of commuters in the state and help the environment by removing traffic from congested highways.

As governor, Rell has succeeded in preserving nearly 8,000 acres of farmland and undeveloped space as part of the quest to retain the beauty and historic charm of our state.

In the Greater Danbury area, her most visible achievement is the Route 7 bypass in her hometown of Brookfield. Opened in November 2009, the 2.3-mile highway ushers traffic more quickly and smoothly from Danbury to New Milford and will allow the previously congested Four Corners of Brookfield to develop in a planned fashion.

When Rell leaves office the first week of January, Brookfield and the entire Greater Danbury area will proudly welcome home one of their own.

M. Jodi Rell has made an indelible mark as the 87th governor of Connecticut.