Fawcett takes re-election campaign to the streets
As Kim Fawcett, the Fairfield Democrat representing the 133rd Assembly District, walked along Partridge Lane on Tuesday afternoon, not everyone was home. Knocks on many doors were not answered. One woman was backing out of her driveway when Fawcett was a lot or two away. The woman had reached the street when Fawcett caught up to her minivan. Conversation was brief, much shorter than what might have transpired had the two mothers met on a front porch.
As short as the interaction was, Fawcett said, "I count that, because it's a personal connection." It's those small encounters that can sometimes make or break an election.
Fawcett has twice been elected to serve as state representative in the 133rd District, comprising sections of Fairfield and Westport. The last time she ran, her opponent was a college student. This time around, it's Republican Dee Dee Brandt, a former Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting member who once worked for IBM.
Fawcett began knocking on voters' doors as early as May, but her campaigning has intensified as the Nov. 2 election nears. In fact, a poster board at Democratic headquarters shows Fawcett has done something called "Walk-To-Win" over four different mornings in the past month, where she and dozens of supporters have walked through four different school neighborhoods, dropping off literature -- between 6 and 7 a.m. -- with the words "Good Morning" in big letters. Below that headline is a photo of Fawcett holding a coffee mug in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Under that photo is the sentence, "You have to wake up really early to work harder than Kim Fawcett will work for you next year." Fawcett said 3,000-plus homes were canvassed over these four mornings. There is also something called "Monday Morning Madness" at Democratic headquarters (which began Sept. 20), where Fawcett and her campaign supporters make phone calls and also personalize postcards that will be sent to friends and neighbors. The Fawcett campaign also has asked people to write letters to the editors of area newspapers, as well as spreading their message via online social networks.
Fawcett, who was a congressional intern in Maryland before becoming a legislative assistant to then-Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaeffer (1987-95), said she takes her role as state representative seriously since she views herself as her constituents' "connection to government."
Not only does she knock on doors, she also calls a lot of her constituents herself, as opposed to relying solely on volunteers, as many politicians do. Once someone has met her, or even talked with her over the phone, they're more likely to reach out to her if they need anything or have a concern in the future, be it a tree branch resting on wires in their yard or some action taking place in the state Capitol.
"I want to make sure the people I'm representing feel comfortable calling me throughout the year," she said.
Fawcett meets many people, but exhibits a strong memory. For instance, she knocked on a door Tuesday and quickly remembered the woman who greeted her was on the verge of retiring from teaching kindergarten when she met her four years ago. Fawcett brought up that tidbit and the topic of conversation naturally turned to education. The woman's husband isn't doing well, but he'll be supporting Fawcett.
"He's already sent in an absentee ballot, so you're covered," said the former educator who is now taking a couple of adult education courses -- How To Buy A Car and Facebook Boot Camp.
Fawcett clearly had that household's support. The woman said Fawcett is doing a great job. While Fawcett counts on support, her constituents also sometimes need a favor. Before Fawcett walked away from the woman's home, she made a promise to call the tree warden to ask that a dangling tree branch be removed from a town tree.
Each visit Fawcett made to a porch gave some insight into the individuality of homeowners. Some are heavily into the Halloween spirit, with many a carved pumpkin. One home showed off a homeowner's sense of humor with a permanent sign spanning the top of the doorway. It said, "Everyone Brings Happiness Here -- Some by Coming, Some By Leaving." The main door was open -- an indication someone was likely home -- but no one came forward to greet Fawcett.
Partridge Lane resident Joseph Spisak found that he couldn't avoid Fawcett. He was in his front yard dealing with cast-iron railings he plans to remove from alongside his front steps since they were not installed properly.
"You're easy to get a hold of. You listen," he said to Fawcett. Spisak would need help moving the cast-iron railings to the side of his house, but he didn't ask for assistance until Fawcett and this reporter were on the other side of the street, directly across from him. After a few minutes of community service, state representative and reporter were back to business.
Fawcett may be a Democrat but she had at least one Republican's vote. One woman along the campaign trail said, `I'm going to vote strictly Republican except for you." Fawcett's info on voters includes not only name and address, but also a person's voting record over the last three elections. The woman who pledged to cross party lines for Fawcett hasn't missed one.
Fawcett's files were pretty accurate but she ran into one woman whose name was different than what was recorded on her sheet. The woman was not Gretchen Pavlik, but rather Mindy Miller. Miller moved from Philadelphia to Fairfield in August to end a long-distance relationship. Fawcett also had various codes for her files. As she left Miller's home, she wrote "NLATA" over Pavlik's name. It's shorthand for "No Longer At This Address."
Some that Fawcett talked to brought up the fact their bills keep rising while their Social Security checks have remained static. Sometimes, serious talk turned to conversation about sports. Partridge Lane resident Angela Armstrong said she thought she had lost the ability to watch her New York Giants when Cablevision got rid of Fox 5. However, she said, she was pleasantly surprised last weekend when she found her team on channel 25. As a state representative, Fawcett can find herself talking about everything and anything. When people have concerns, she does her best to bring about change.
"The part of the job that I like is the advocacy part," she said, "not the politics."
And, she added, "When I see things that aren't right, I can work as an advocate or an activist on an issue and help people."
Fawcett, who prides herself on being independent, said she hopes she and her supporters have driven that fact home with voters.
"I've shown that through my work and the way I vote," she said. "I've also established myself as someone who gets results. My record speaks for itself. People know I will listen. I'll be responsive and I'll work really hard."