Years ago, when my husband Matt was in graduate school at Yale, our first child was a baby who had decided that sleeping wasn’t really his ‘thing’, so we would drive around trying to lull our son to sleep. Often, we would end up driving through Orange – surprised to find the fields and quiet streets so close to the Post Road and New Haven. Little did we know that we would end up raising our family here and loving the community that welcomed us immediately.
The importance of giving back to your community and public service is something that was instilled in me as a child. My mother, a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, served on our Board of Education, and my father, a small business owner, was Chair of their Conservation Commission for over twenty years. All three of my younger brothers are combat veterans in the Navy, Army, and Marines, something that we are incredibly proud of and has had a profound impact on our lives.
I went to college to become a teacher myself, but, after graduation, followed a path to technical theater instead. As an electrician in New York working in institutions like Juilliard, The Public Theater, and other Off-Broadway houses, I learned the importance of managing a budget, working with multiple departments at once, the critical aspects of workplace safety, and the negative side of a ‘gig economy’.
Later, as the mother of three school aged children, my focus fell more on local concerns. I was honored to be elected to the Orange Board of Education as well as serve on the Board of our PTA. Volunteering with community groups such as the Girl Scouts and Orange Community Women provided a clearer picture of what was happening in our town and what issues we were facing. My work as the statewide Ambassador for Sandy Hook Promise gave me a broader view of what was needed across the state.
It became clear to me the perspectives of everyday families in our state are not represented enough when policies and laws are created. Trying to raise a family, be independently successful, or retire in Connecticut is not an easy task these days. Our children should not have to leave the state to be successful – but we haven’t been building the foundation needed to attract the businesses that provide stable employment and raise our tax base.
Our state has the potential to be a leader in renewable energy initiatives that address the immediate threat of climate change, yet instead of investing in that we are raiding that funding. It’s one example of many irresponsible decisions.
I have personally knocked thousands of doors in Woodbridge, Orange, and Derby since the end of May, having as many one-on-one conversations as possible. I’ve heard too many stories from people worried about paying for prescriptions and doctors’ bills, food, and housing costs. We’ve been passing short-sighted policies and sending the same people to Hartford for too long.
It’s time for change.