Orange shares its representation in the Connecticut Legislature to a large degree with the City of Milford, and several of the candidates running for office this year are Milford residents. That includes in the 117th district incumbent Republican Kathy Kennedy, as well as her challenger, Democrat Bryan Anderson; and in the 119th district Democrat Tony Sutton is challenging incumbent Republican Charles Ferraro.
Kathy Kennedy, R-117
Kennedy is running for her second term. The Amity graduate with a degree in social relations is working for the City of Milford. She has served as administrative assistant in the law department for the past 15 years. Prior to that she worked for the fire department. In 2015 she was elected president of the Connecticut PTA where she served until 2017.
In the legislature she was assigned to the Education, the Environment and the Public Health committees. She did not support the police accountability act, and published a letter stating that though she wanted to “fully support a true reform bill that would address some of the racial injustices of our past and present,” this bill did not meet that goal. Removing qualified immunity for police officers would permit law enforcement to be sued. “I spoke with many police officers from both Orange and Milford and they told me this bill would leave our officers disheartened, possibly making it harder to do their already tough and dangerous job,” she wrote in her letter.
Similarly, she joined her Republican colleagues in voting no to establishing an inspector general to investigate police shootings and illegal uses of force; and to the release of police camera videos. She also voted no to the minimum wage increase to $15/hour, saying it didn’t address people who already made $15. It also could backfire for young people with disabilities, who may have to reduce their hours in order not to exceed a certain income cap. She also voted no to the paid family and medical leave act, saying people should have the choice to opt in.
However, she voted to support statewide absentee voting; she voted to establish a cap on Insulin prices; and to prohibit the storage of firearms in an unlocked vehicle.
Kennedy said the last legislative period didn’t actually get off the ground before the pandemic cut it short. In fact, during the first year of her freshman term, she made a perfect voting record, meaning she took every vote that came up.
She also joined the bipartisan Women’s Caucus, which is an important forum for co-operation. “We need to put people over party,” she said. When the pandemic first hit, “so many people had such a hard time,” she said, for instance getting unemployment benefits. Many constituents turned to her for help – some of them Democrats – and she was happy to help them out when she could. “Whatever happens on November 3, I am happy I could help the people in my district,” she said.
Bryan Anderson, D-117
Democrat Bryan Anderson also lives in Milford, where he served on the Board of Aldermen up until two years ago. He is a small business owner, and heavily involved with the Land Trust, according to his press representative Adam DeYoung. Anderson also is involved with the Irish Heritage Society.
When asked about his legislative agenda, Young submitted a lengthy list of issues and legislative actions Anderson would support. They include:
- Strengthening domestic violence victims’ witness statements;
- Support for early voting and voting by mail;
- The Use Of Emails to Request Absentee Ballot Applications;
- Municipal Planning Boards Site Plan Public Hearings;
- Public Broadband Pilot Projects;
- Naming of Marine Corporal Jordan C. Pierson Memorial;
- Access to Original Birth Certificates By Adult Adopted Persons;
- The Inclusion Of Climate Change Instruction In The Public School Curriculum;
- The Modernization Of The Connecticut Bottle Redemption Program;
- The Use Of Perfluoroalkyl Or Polyfluoroalkyl Substances In Class B Firefighting Foam;
- The Use and Distribution of Polystyrene Products;
- Resolution Urging Congress to Adopt the ERA as a Constitutional Amendment;
- CT Legacy Farmland Preservation;
- The Sale and Marketing of CT Grown and Made Products Along Public Highways, and in State-Owned and Leased Facilities;
- Support for Wineries, Distilleries, and Breweries;
- Workforce Development Apprenticeships;
- Restore Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee;
- Restore Legislative Regulations Review Committee;
Charles Ferraro, R-119
Charles Ferraro is serving his third term in the Connecticut General Assembly, proudly representing the 117th Assembly District comprised of portions of Orange, Milford and West Haven. He currently serves as the highest ranking House Republican on the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee and also serves on the Public Safety & Security and Veterans’ Affairs Committees.
Anthony Sutton, D-119
Ferraro’s challenger, Attorney Anthony Sutton is a member of the Milford Board of Aldermen. He is proud of Milford’s record of lowering the mill rate in recent years and plans to apply those same skills to the government in Hartford, namely fiscal responsibility and innovation. The money saved can then be plowed back into essential services, he said.
“The demographics in this district is diverse,” he acknowledged, but “they all need funding for education.” As for Orange, he would make sure it would receive the economic development funds that help the town thrive.
As for West Haven, the situation is more pressing, he said. “I would work with the mayor and the City Council to improve the downtown. The city needs economic development and ways to revitalize the shoreline, he said.
Sutton’s wife Stacy is born and raised in West Haven, and currently serves as assistant principal at Bailey Middle School. Sutton said he grew up with a strong sense of public service. His mother was part of the city Council and his father police commissioner. “The reason we do it (run for office) is because we love the town we live in,” he said.
Sutton’s candidacy is cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party, which some critics have used against him, in particular for their support for the Police Accountability Act. Sutton says he was honored to receive their endorsement, which came before the act was adopted in Hartford. “The Working Families Party is not a one-issue party,” he said. He supports their work for access to healthcare and access to the best education, but he does not advocate for defunding the police. “To keep them funded is imperative,” he said, adding that local police departments may not see the incidents that others see. In fact, the act provides additional resources to those departments to address.
As Sutton has been going door-to-door this summer, he found that people are tired of partisan bickering. “We have to keep the whole of Connecticut thriving and healthy,” he said. “Call me naïve, but that can be done.”
By Bettina Thiel – Orange Town News Correspondent