Letters to the editor: Residents show support for Westport’s state candidates
Please note, our paper’s policy is to not run letters supporting candidates in the print issue immediately before an election.
I write to affirm my enthusiastic, unequivocal endorsement of Patrizia Zucaro for the 143rd district House seat, a seat I have held for the past 10 years.
Patrizia is not afraid of anyone - in either party. She will defend our district’s interests without flinching. She will tell us the truth, always, about what’s happening in Hartford. She will answer to no one but her constituents, and she will represent everyone, not just those who support her.
Representing our district, with two towns and a city, is complex. Patrizia has the rare ability to understand the issues of all three municipalities and to represent them all equally well. She also understands that the benefits of resolving these issues need not, and should not, be mutually exclusive: all boats rise when everyone is successful.
Like our district, Patrizia doesn’t fit into a doctrinaire political niche. She will fight to reduce taxes and structural spending, and improve the business climate, while investing in education, infrastructure, and services for the truly needy. She will defend our towns against state interference in education, zoning, and how our property taxes are spent. She supports both our local police and Connecticut’s strong gun laws. She will protect every individual’s rights to fair treatment under the law, and to personal reproductive and lifestyle choices. She’s a steadfast advocate for the environment.
Too many legislators in Hartford are more interested in serving the state employee unions than in serving their constituents. Patrizia will put you first.
Patrizia is smart, intellectually curious, and treats people as individuals. An attorney, she is detail-minded and can quickly spot red flags in legislation that could affect our district. We couldn’t ask for a better advocate.
Patrizia’s motivation is rooted not in politics, but in affection for the region where she has always lived and her desire to see it better served by state government. She means business, because she cares.
I am confident that with Patrizia Zucaro, our district will be in very good hands indeed. I respectfully urge you to join me in voting to elect her as our next state representative.
Gail Lavielle, State Representative, 143rd district
Support for Chip
I have known Chip Stephens and his family for over 40 years. I am supporting Chip for State Representative in the 136 District because the state part of this election is about our Westport.
For those of you who care first about Westport, and your political party affiliation second, this vote is a no brainer. Chip will always put the interests of our town first. Unlike our current Representatives, Chip will first engage with our Police Chief and Police officers before voting on state legislation that compromises the safety of our residents.
Chip will not only speak out, but will take action to protect our local zoning laws. Yes, our local single family zoning is at stake in Hartford. Please, before voting your usual single row, ask yourself who is best to represent Westport and your interests. If you are serious about protecting your property values, and your safety, Chip Stephens is the person for 136.
Jimmy Izzo, Westport
Haskell will improve the environment
As our world experiences major technological advancements, we can’t help but think about the negative effects these innovations mean for the future of our planet. Our climate is becoming warmer than ever; Connecticut has warmed 2-3 degrees in the last century. To combat this change, strong leadership is necessary.
In his term as State Senator, Will Haskell has proven that the environment is a top priority of his. He co-sponsored Connecticut’s Green New Deal, calling for a 45% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2030. He also approved offshore wind turbines, which are not only set to meet 30% of the state’s energy needs by 2030, but will also generate $2 billion in economic activity.
I strongly urge you to vote to reelect Senator Haskell this November. Connecticut needs his judgment, compassion, and authority now more than ever.
Eliza Oren, Westport
Please Mind The Gap (Year)
To go or not to go, that was the question my family and I faced this past July when deciding if I would attend college on campus this fall. I was afraid of all of my friends going off to school and being totally isolated, but was more afraid of the global pandemic that might spread through campus and send me home early anyway. So, we made the difficult and weighted decision to defer my enrollment in a Connecticut college because we were concerned about the ability of colleges to handle safety during the pandemic; specifically inadequate testing, students disregarding the rules, and schools failing to enforce social distancing. As an incoming college student, I want to feel that the school is making sure students on campus stay safe, that gap year students’ return to campus is ensured, and the local government has my back in setting these standards and holding schools accountable.
I was lucky that, as an incoming freshman, I had the option to defer without interrupting my college education. However, I’m unsure if the fellowship I was granted upon admission is still valid, as there has been no communication or reassurance from my school. While my decision was not influenced by financial aid, scholarships, or athletic standing, I know many students who were not able to defer because they would lose their spot on a team or a merit scholarship and couldn’t afford to attend without it. My friends and their families had to choose between financial security and physical safety, a decision no one should ever have to make. Many people's financial standing has changed since their acceptance into schools this past year, especially considering job losses due to the pandemic. It’s imperative that the state government works with colleges and universities to afford students the same resources and aid -- if not more -- when they enter college next year as they planned to provide this fall. As college students, we deserve to feel safe on campus and supported by our local government, whether or not we decided to attend school this fall.
Another issue that is incredibly important to me is easily accessible and affordable mental health care. State and local government must ensure that mental health care on campuses is not jeopardized by the necessary focus on physical health care. The transition to college is already a challenging undertaking, and with the addition of an isolating pandemic, it’s even more difficult to adjust and socialize. Connecticut needs to expand standards of mental health care on college campuses to tackle the social and psychological repercussions of COVID-19.
Working on Stephanie Thomas’ campaign during my gap year has been the most rewarding experience to come out of these fraught circumstances. I strongly believe that Stephanie will protect students during this challenging and ever-changing time. Her experience and platform prove that she understands the importance of accessible mental health care, masks, testing, and social distancing on an institutional level. Stephanie also recognizes how unnecessarily complicated the financial aid process is; it takes a lot to get a student to college, and it should be easy to receive and update financial aid when conditions change. I’m supporting - and working for - Stephanie Thomas for State Representative because I know she will be there to support Connecticut students, teachers, families, and institutions as we all navigate through the pandemic, and beyond.
Molly Stern, Westport
Lawyers support Democratic candidates
As lawyers who are residents in Westport, we understand how the nomination of Amy Coney Barret can affect the rights of all of us. Taking together Judge Barrett’s decisions and her published writings, a pattern emerges of a far-right judge, who will threaten the balance in the Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) and the rights of Americans. In her dissent in Kanter v. Barr, Barrett argued against gun laws that prohibited those with felony convictions from owning guns. Her stated belief is that abortions should not be granted even when the life of the mother is in danger, and even when there is a grave threat to the mother’s health. Barrett has supported “T.R.A.P. laws” (targeted restrictions on abortion providers), which threaten the reproductive rights of women. She called for the re-hearing of a case that struck down Indiana’s former abortion law, which prohibited abortions even if the fetus was severely disabled. Barrett will be the deciding vote this November in the Trump administration’s SCOTUS appeal to end the Affordable Care Act. “ACA” insures 20 million Americans, and guarantees coverage for preexisting conditions, which nearly half the country has. CV19 infection is a pre-existing condition. Despite the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic, when 20 million Americans desperately need their medical insurance, Trump is trying to end that coverage.
Against this back drop of SCOTUS potentially rolling back our rights, we write to urge you to vote in a “blue wall” of legislators in Hartford, and vote for Jonathan Steinberg, Stephanie Thomas and Will Haskell. At the state level, a Democratic legislature can guarantee some of the rights that Trump’s SCOTUS appointments seek to destroy. As the Chair of the House Public Health Committee, Jonathan Steinberg is uniquely situated to help fight legislatively against threats posed to Westporters’ health by COVID and federal legislative roll-backs.
Recent criticisms of our legislators by a local police union leader about the Police Accountability Act are misleading. The Act’s Civilian Review Board provision only allows local RTMs to create such an ordinance, which still must be voted on by the RTM. The Westport police chief has been invited to every RTM meeting about the proposed ordinance. The draft legislation actually provides the Chief veto power over recommended discipline, and also provides for civilian awards for high-performing police. The legislation strengthens the Chief’s hand in dealing with a union that fights against accountability.
Will Haskell and Jonathan Steinberg have fought for strong gun safety legislation, and helped keep Connecticut a model for successful CV19 responses. No state has had better results turning around the rate of infection. Our war against this pandemic is not the right time to change horses midstream; experience at this time is critical. The Trump administration’s unprincipled machinations concerning two SCOTUS seats threaten our rights. Now is not the time to add Trump Republicans to our legislature who will vote to support Trump’s efforts.
Gail Berrit, Sheri Gordon, Jill Halper, Kristan Peters-Hamlin, Josh Koskoff, Andrew Nevas, Neil Phillips, Alan Rubenstein, Jill Saluck, Karen Sherman, Randy Saluck, Rob Simmelkjaer,Vicki Volper, Robin Weinberg
Kim Healy is our neighbor, not a career politician
I’m writing to encourage your readers to vote for Kim Healy, candidate for Connecticut’s 26th District State Senate seat. Kim travels throughout the 26th District every day. She doesn’t tell voters what to think, like the professional politicians do. Instead, she listens, as voters tell her about their families, their small businesses, their jobs, and their concerns for the future.
Kim cares deeply for the families and communities of the 26th District, and the future of our great state. As a former CPA and auditor at PriceWaterhouse Coopers, she approaches challenges with a pragmatic, solutions-first attitude, and not as a career politician.
In Connecticut, we take pride in our long history of community-based decision making that sets partisanship aside, to make the best public policies for all families. Unfortunately, the state legislature is controlled today by career politicians who don’t share our values.
We desperately need to send Kim to the State Senate. She’ll fight for local control of our towns and cities, our zoning decisions, our schools, our personal property rights, and the heroes who serve in our police departments. That’s why the Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police, and the police unions in every community in the 26th District have endorsed Kim’s campaign, and they urge you to vote for her as well.
Please join me in voting for Kim Healy for Connecticut State Senate District 26.
Matt Carrothers, Weston resident
We need a state representative with experience
For people concerned about the environment in general, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions, in particular, the choice for state representative is clear: it’s Jonathan Steinberg. At the debate on the environment at Earthplace last week, the difference between Jonathan and his opponent, Chip Stephens, was stark. This makes sense - Jonathan has been working on, and for, reducing greenhouse gases for years. His opponent has no experience with environmental issues and even disputes the conclusion, shared by 97% of climate scientists, that climate change is wholly man-made.
Why should we wait for someone new to get up to speed on this extremely important issue, and other issues, when we already have an experienced, knowledgeable representative? We have to vote for Jonathan Steinberg.
Jo Ann Flaum, Westport
Will Haskell stands with the environment
While the world focuses in on more conspicuous challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, issues of social and racial unrest, and economic relief programs, the state of the world we live in itself, in terms of the environment and climate change, appears to have taken a backseat in our minds. Few politicians take anything close to sufficient action towards ameliorating the catastrophic effects of climate change and toxic air and water pollution, and even fewer pass any legislation to curb its causes.
I support State Senator Will Haskell because he stands with the environment and has taken action over the past 2 years in Hartford to push through bills that have helped our planet. This is why Haskell scored a 100% on the 2019 Connecticut League of Conservation Voters annual Environmental Scorecard.
Haskell has consistently supported many crucial pro-environment bills. He co-sponsored Connecticut’s Green New Deal (HB-5002), which invests in renewable energy and green technology. He was a part of Connecticut’s Environmental Committee that pushed through a statewide plastic bag ban in stores. He has advocated and voted for the State Water Plan, which among other things, maintains the highest quality drinking water and continues the state’s efforts to reserve only Class A quality water for drinking purposes and leads the nation in doing so more consistently than any other state.
Our town residents need to band together to make their voices heard in the democratic process and re-elect Will Haskell, so that he can continue his efforts to bring genuine action to Hartford and combat a wide range of issues, including environmental concerns. For instance, Haskell is currently working to pass SB450, an act granting municipalities and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection the power to enforce previously passed car idling laws. This is important, as cutting car idling time in half across the US would annually keep between 7 to 26 million tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere. Currently, there are only six air inspectors in the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responsible for monitoring 1.4 million cars across the state. Instead, these enforcement powers should be allocated to local police departments already operating in our communities.
Join me in supporting Will Haskell’s reelection campaign, so that we can help make this goal, and many more, a reality.
Natalie Bandura, Westport
More to Police Accountability Act
I am a Westport resident for over twenty years. I recently received a campaign e-mail from Chip Stephens (Republican candidate for assemblyman from Westport) advocating a vote for him in favor of his opponent due to Representative Steinberg’s support for the Police Accountability Act (CT HB 6004). The e mail incorrectly labeled the bill the Defund Bill thereby implying that there were provisions to decrease funding to police departments. I read the entire bill to ascertain the truth of this accusation.
The bill does not provide for decreased funding of first responders. It actually outlines a comprehensive program to provide structure for improved oversight and training of police officers. The bill supports efforts that assist the police in obtaining the proper training and guidance to effectively serve the public as highly trained professionals. The only mention of funding or finance actually provides for the state to issue bonds and grants to support the programs outlined in the bill. The president of the Westport police union is not correct in stating that the programs are unfunded. I think Chip Stephen’s claim that Representative Steinberg was voting for defunding police is not truthful.
The above was forwarded to the campaign of Chip Stephens with no response to date. Attempts to label elected representatives or candidates as unsupportive of police are divisive, unfairly impugn integrity and should have no place in our community. Members of both of our major parties have consistently demonstrated an abiding concern for our first responders and equally deserve our respect in this regard.
Neil D. Herbsman, Westport
Residents before unions
It’s no secret that state public-sector employee unions control many Democratic votes in our state legislature. Because of this, Connecticut’s state employees receive salaries that are more than 40% higher on average than those of private sector workers. They also have the best health benefits in the country, and defined benefit pension plans, which the private sector has not seen in years. What’s more, the roughly 98% of the population that does not work for the state is paying for these generous benefits, which they will never receive themselves.
Last year, majority Democratic legislators voted to guarantee unionized state employees 11% raises over two years. This summer, when they were to take effect, the governor didn’t even try to suspend those raises - totaling $350 million - while thousands of the private-sector employees funding them were jobless and forgoing mortgage or rent payments because of the pandemic.
It’s important to me to be represented by legislators who will put our residents first, far ahead of the state unions. So I was interested to see recently that Stephanie Thomas, the Democratic candidate for state representative of the 143rd district, had been endorsed not only by the Working Families Party, but also by the AFL-CIO and the powerful SEIU - Service Employees International Union. The fact that she would seek these endorsements clearly casts doubt on her priorities. Whom would she put first, her constituents, or the state employee unions?
We need representatives who have our back, who do not bow to special interests, and who tell us the truth about what is happening in Hartford. There must be no doubts about their motives, or their allegiances. I urge voters in the 143rd District of Westport, Wilton, and Norwalk to support Patrizia Zucaro for state representative.
Isabelle Hargrove, Norwalk