April 25, 2017

Siegrist Meets with Taxpayers, Discusses Issues over Coffee

State Rep. Bob Siegrist discusses current issues with constituents.

TRI-TOWN – Throughout the months of March and April, State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th) met with taxpayers in all four towns that he represents and gave an update on the latest news from the State Capitol, including the state budget.

Siegrist hosted early morning coffee hour events across the 36th district, giving residents in Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam the opportunity to meet with their legislator and speak with him about their concerns. Siegrist stressed the importance of lowering tax burdens on families and businesses and restoring municipal funding cuts proposed in the governor’s budget.

Siegrist held his coffee hour events at the following locations: Simon’s Market Place in Chester, Hally Jo’s Corner in Deep River, Jack’s Country Restaurant in Higganum and the Town Hall in Essex.

“I believe it is absolutely necessary to have an open and honest discussion with the residents I represent,” said Siegrist. “I can only do my job effectively if I am in tune with the concerns held by the residents and business owners in my District. I am eager to continue being your voice and represent our community in Hartford.”

“While communicating with residents in district, I vowed to always be available and more importantly, to always listen to the interests and concerns of my constituents. I’m grateful to all those who attended and especially for providing their feedback regarding state and local issues,” added Siegrist.

Attendees at the legislative coffee hour events also discussed a variety of issues, including state taxes, invasive species, marijuana, education and funding for transportation infrastructure.

Any resident who missed the events but would like to contact Siegrist may do so at 800-842-1423 or email Robert.Siegrist@housegop.ct.gov.

Editor’s Note: Siegrist represents the 36th District communities of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.

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Join a ‘Building Bridges for Justice Activism Teach-In’ Today in Hadlyme


AREAWIDE — It is said that “knowledge is power,” that facts matter, and that for all of us to be effective activists, we need to enhance our knowledge and build our skills.  Therefore, Together We Rise – Building Bridges for Justice, is hosting an Activism Teach-In on Saturday, March 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Hadlyme Public Hall.

Experts from across Connecticut will speak from their experience and speak on the following topics:

  • How to Talk to Your Legislator &  Make An Impact- Michele Mudrick
  • The Lives of Undocumented Kids in CT & How to Help- Edwin Colon
  • Demystifying the State Budget & Fight for Children- Derek Thomas
  • Intersectionality 101

Parking will be available on the street near the Hadlyme Public Hall.  No handicap access available.  An ALS interpreter will be present.

A lunch break is scheduled and it is suggested that participants bring a bagged lunch. Bagged lunches may be ordered from the following:  Two Wrasslin’ Cats at (860) 891-8446, Grist Mill Market at (860) 873-3663, and Higher Grounds at (860) 615-6112.  Place your order by March 3 and let these partnering businesses know that you will be attending the Activism Teach-In when you place your order. Coffee, tea, and water will be available during the Teach-In.

To register (space is limited) and for more information, visit: Together We Rise – Building Bridges for Justice at togetherwerisect.com

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Sen. Linares Proposes Electoral College Vote for 2nd Congressional District

Sen. Art Linares gives testimony in the Connecticut Senate.

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) on Wednesday testified before the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee in support of a bill he proposed to give the 2nd Congressional District its own vote in the Electoral College.

SB 133, An Act Concerning The Electoral College Vote Attributed To The State’s Second Congressional District, was submitted by Sen. Linares as a way to give a voice and more visibility to the people and businesses of the 2ndCongressional District.

During his testimony, Sen. Linares said that while people know the Naval Submarine Base and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, other areas of the district don’t get much notice.

“Presidents and vice presidents are customary speakers at Academy graduations. Members of Congress tour the facility that is the United States Navy’s primary East Coast submarine base,” Sen. Linares said. “However, during presidential primary and election years, the Second Congressional District and its important facilities are passed by. I’d like to change that.”

Sen. Linares said his bill would use the popular vote in the district to determine what candidate would get the Electoral College vote from the district. In addition to possibly generating more interest from presidential candidates, he said the bill would give the 2nd Congressional District the attention the unique area deserves,

Senator Linares represents the communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Siegrist Requests Changes to House Bill to Allow Chester to Receive Funds to Combat Invasive Species

Rep. Bob Siegrist testifies during a Public Hearing about invasive species.

HARTFORD – State Rep. Bob Siegrist (R-36) recently testified during a public hearing regarding a proposal that he co-sponsored, namely House Bill 5503, An Act Concerning Lake Authorities and Combating Invasive Plant and Animal Species. Siegrist asked that the legislation be amended to assist local towns like Chester.

Under current law, 25 percent of Community Investment Account funds within the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection can be used for municipal open space grants. House Bill 5503 would provide grants to lake authorities for the control of invasive species.

Rep. Siegrist is in full support of House Bill 5503, but suggests that the bill be amended to allow municipalities access to the grants to combat invasive species.

“Current law states that two or more towns that have a body of water of state water within their territory can establish a lake authority. Cedar Lake in Chester is wholly within the Town of Chester. The problem in Cedar Lake is similar to what many lakes are dealing with — invasive species,” Siegrist said.

“Mitigation of this problem can be very expensive and requires ongoing maintenance, approximately every two years depending on the aggressive nature of the species. Cedar Lake is a 70-acre-lake fully owned by Chester, whose residents enjoy it for passive and active recreation. This legislation as it is currently written, would not allow such towns to have access to this grant. It is my hope the legislature’s Environment Committee would consider my language to make it fair for those towns like Chester.”

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Local Lawmakers Urge State to Support ‘The Kate’ with Highway Tourism Signage

Rep. Carney (left), The Kate’s Director of Development Dana Foster (center), and Paul Formica (right) at the Jan. 29 public hearing on the proposal to install signs for The Kate on local highways.

OLD SAYBROOK -– Old Saybrook lawmakers are urging the state legislature to help support the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (‘The Kate’) by passing legislation that would allow tourism signage for the center to be placed on Rte. 9 and I-95.

Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th), Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd) and Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) submitted testimony in favor of House Bill 5574 and spoke before the Transportation Committee to urge fellow lawmakers to support the local theater. ‘The Kate’ is a theater in the Town of Old Saybrook that provides entertainment for the region and is named for Connecticut Hall-of-Famer, multiple Academy Award winner, and former Old Saybrook resident Katharine Hepburn.

“We believe that ‘The Kate’ deserves to have signage along both I-95 and Rte. 9 because it will attract tourists to the theater and create an interest for those passing by the signs,” the lawmakers said in their written testimony, adding, “Similar theaters have signage along various highways throughout the state due to their importance and popularity and ‘The Kate’ is no different.”

They continued, “It is a cultural hub with entertainment that draws people from across the state and the country. It is an economic engine, not only for Old Saybrook, but for the region as a whole and helps nearby businesses like the many restaurants and shops in town. Signage along the highway will only improve the number of tourists to town and we believe it is in the state’s best interest to promote this important theater with the signage suggested.”

Sen. Formica and Dana Foster, Director of Development and External Relations at The Kate, testify before the Transportation Committee in favor of House Bill 5574 An Act Concerning Signs Indication the Location of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

Sen. Formica testified in person with Dana Foster, Director of Development and External Relations, at ‘The Kate,’ on Jan. 31, before the Transportation Committee on which Rep. Carney is a ranking member.

Foster explained the importance of signage along the highways, saying, “Signage would help our growing audiences navigate the multiple exits to Old Saybrook and help to further attract additional tourists and others to our historical building, great exhibit, and incredible arts and programming.”

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Siegrist Criticizes Governor Malloy’s Budget Proposal

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

State Representative Bob Siegrist (R-36) issued the following statement in response to the Fiscal Year 2018 – 2019 Biennial Budget Address that Governor Dannel P. Malloy presented Feb. 8 to the General Assembly.

Siegrist said, “The budget proposal put forth by the governor hits middle class residents the hardest and weakens our education system. In fact, Governor Malloy suggests that Hartford get the largest increase in funds, 17 percent to be exact.”

He added, “The governor’s proposal punishes towns that are able to balance their checkbooks and bails out the ones that consistently mismanage their funds,” continuing, “This proposal hurts the middle class people of this state; the ones that work hard and balance their checkbooks responsibly. His proposal even eliminates the property tax credit, which directly impacts people in my district that are already struggling to make ends meet, and I will not stand for it.”

State Rep. Bob Siegrist represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam. He is a member of the General Assembly’s Insurance, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs.

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State Public Hearing on Proposed Rail Route to be Held Tomorrow in Hartford; Carney Urges Residents to Testify in Person or by E-mail

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

UPDATED 12:17am: (in red italics): Tomorrow, the legislature’s Transportation Committee is hosting a public hearing on various transportation issues, including three bills related to the Federal Rail Authority’s (FRA) proposed bypass through southeastern Connecticut.

The first objects to the proposal to build a new high speed railroad bypass through southeastern Connecticut.  The second requires municipal approval by town referendum for such a scheme to move forward and the third prohibits the state from spending any funds on such a proposal unless it has received municipal approval.

The public hearing is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building – 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford. State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) is encouraging constituents and local elected officials to voice their opinions and concerns. ”

He stresses, however, “Due to high interest from across Southeastern Connecticut (and possibly Rhode Island), I am anticipating a large turnout for the public hearing on Monday. Public hearings can last a very long time, so I want to remind folks that they can submit written testimony to TRATestimony@cga.ct.gov if they cannot attend or cannot spend, potentially, several hours waiting to testify.”

Carney represents the 23rd district, which encompasses the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and a portion of Westbrook.

The Committee will hold a public hearing on a variety of bills including three mentioned above and described in more detail below that State Rep. Carney and State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) drafted. The hearing will give individuals the opportunity to speak about a number of transportation concerns facing the state.

State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th)

The following bill proposals were drafted by both Carney and Formica, and will be heard during the public hearing:

HJ 54 RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION’S PROPOSAL TO CONSTRUCT AN ALTERNATIVE AMTRAK ROUTE THROUGH SOUTHEAST CONNECTICUT

This bill proposal objects to the proposal by the FRA regarding construction of a bypass on the Northeast Corridor rail line between Old Saybrook, Connecticut to Kenyon, Rhode Island through the scenic and historic towns of southeast Connecticut.

SB 253 AN ACT REQUIRING MUNICIPAL APPROVAL OF CHANGES TO RAIL SERVICE

Carney, the leading Republican lawmaker on the legislature’s Transportation Committee, said: “Many of our constituents felt that their concerns were not properly considered and that the FRA was trying to ram this bypass proposal through without a proper public hearing from those most affected by it. We agree. So, we drafted this proposal which would require municipal approval, through referendum, for any changes to commuter rail service through an impacted community.”

SB 263 AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL APPROVAL OF CHANGES TO RAIL SERVICE

This bill proposal pairs with SB 253 in that it prohibits the state from expending funds on rail projects that did not receive municipal approval through a referendum.

Carney added, “I would encourage you to support these concepts and express your thoughts on how you feel the FRA process has gone thus far and any concerns you may have.”

To find a complete list of relevant bills on the agenda for Monday’s public hearing, visit: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/TRAdata/pha/2017pha00206-R001230TRA-pha.htm

For information on how to testify visit: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/content/yourvoice.asp.

Email written testimony in Word or PDF format to TRAtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

Anyone with questions about bills or the public hearing process can contact Rep. Carney’s office at (800) 842-1423 or by email to Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov.

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Rep. Siegrist to Hold In-District Coffee Hour in Deep River, April 4

AREAWIDE — State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36) has announced that he will be holding coffee hours during the coming weeks throughout the 36th District in an effort to meet with residents and listen to their concerns.

The public is invited to attend any of the scheduled ‘District Coffee Hours’ events to meet with Rep. Siegrist in a relaxed setting and discuss any issues they wish to speak about, including the latest updates from the State Capitol.

Residents are encouraged to ask any questions about state or local issues, including proposed legislation.

Coffee Hour Schedule:

Tuesday, April 4
8:00-9:00am
Jack’s Country Restaurant, 26 Killingworth Road, Higganum

Thursday, April 6
8:00-9:00am
Town Hall, Room 1, 29 West Avenue, Essex

Those unable to attend an event but would like to speak with Rep. Siegrist may email Robert.Siegrist@housegop.ct.gov or call (860) 240-8700.  Check www.RepSiegrist.com  for any cancellations prior to the scheduled event.

Editor’s Note: Siegrist represents the 36th District communities of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.

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Siegrist Urges Legislature to Pair Pension Refinancing with Reform

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

AREAWIDE – On Wednesday, Feb. 1, State Representative Bob Siegrist (R-36th) urged fellow lawmakers to reject Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s pension funding agreement and instead advised the legislature to assess alternative means by which to address the state’s growing pension system problems.

House Republicans released data obtained from two actuarial analyses that show how additional steps can rein in the state’s unfunded pension liabilities. Both reports show how pairing pension finance changes with modifications to state employee benefits could increase the solvency of the state pension plan.

“We owe it to the people of Connecticut and to our children to come up with a better option. It is not fair for us to pass our problems onto future generations, we must be responsible and make difficult decisions to benefit to our state,” said Siegrist.

The governor’s pension proposal sought to tackle a mounting budget deficit by reducing short-term state pension contributions. In exchange for leveling payments through 2047, taxpayers would be responsible for an additional $11 billion over the duration of the deal compared to the structure of the current plan. Furthermore, the deal recommends a reduction in the investment rate of return from the current eight percent to 6.9 percent.

Many Republican lawmakers have suggested that making alterations to state employee pension benefits could reduce the unfunded liability by $200 million. If that sum were sent into the pension fund, actuaries estimate that the length of the new plan could be reduced by seven years and could decrease the additional liability from the projected $11 billion to $3 billion.

The State House voted 76-72 to ratify the deal on a nearly party-line vote, while the State Senate voted 18-17 with the Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of the deal.

The 36th House District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

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Sen. Linares Named Co-chairman of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Caucus

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) File photo.

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares (R-33) has been named Co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Caucus. The caucus advocates the interests of individuals with IDD and their families.

“Mahatma Gandhi said that a society will be measured by how it has treated its most vulnerable citizens,” Sen. Linares noted. “We must leave a legacy where individuals and families dealing with IDD are able to live full and complete lives. I am proud to be asked to take a leadership role in a caucus tasked with such important work.”

Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-34) commented that he knows advocating for those impacted by IDD is an important issue for Sen. Linares.

“Sen. Linares is an energetic lawmaker and in this new role he will be an active ambassador to families and advocates, working hard to make their voices heard at the Capitol,” Sen. Fasano said, adding, “To best serve these families, we need to learn about the challenges they face every day. Sen. Linares will play a key role in that dialogue.”

Sen. Linares stressed that as the General Assembly faces a projected $1.4 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year, legislators must do their best to support the needs of Connecticut’s IDD residents.

“State spending must be brought under control, but that doesn’t mean we balance the budget at the expense of those with disabilities,” he said.

Sen. Linares represents the communities of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook along with Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme, Portland and Westbrook.

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Linares Chairs CT Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee

Sen. Heather Somers and Sen. Art Linares at the January meeting.

AREAWIDE — On Jan. 11, Sen. Heather Somers (R-18th) and Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd) attended the first 2017 meeting of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.  The panel has oversight of all matters relating to the Board of Regents for Higher Education, public and independent institutions of higher education, private occupational schools, post‑secondary education, job training institutions and programs, apprenticeship training programs and adult job training programs offered to the public by any state agency or that receives funding from the state.

Somers, who serves as the committee’s Vice-Chair, represents Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington, and Voluntown.

Linares, the committee’s Co-Chair, represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Somers (www.SenatorSomers.com) can be reached atHeather.Somers@cga.ct.gov and at 800-842-1421.  Linares (www.SenatorLinares.com) can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov and at 800-842-1421.

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Siegrist Sworn in, Prepares for First Term as State Representative

State Representative Bob Siegrist takes the oath of office at the swearing-in ceremony held in Hartford, Jan 4, 2017.

AREAWIDE — State Representative Bob Siegrist (R-36th) was sworn in on Wednesday, Jan. 4, to represent the 36th General Assembly District, which includes the communities of Chester, Deep River, Haddam and Essex.

Siegrist states he is committed to reducing the expense of government and wants to ensure that Connecticut responsibly balances its checkbook.

“I am grateful to the wonderful people of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam for their support. It is truly an honor to represent the 36th District in Hartford, and I pledge that I will do so with energy, respect and hard work. We are blessed to live in such a picturesque community in the lower Connecticut River Valley. I vow to always keep an open mind and open door for all residents of our beautiful towns,” added Siegrist.

Rep. Siegrist took the oath of office and was sworn in by Secretary of State Denise Merrill on Wednesday afternoon in the State House Chamber. He then participated in a Joint Convention of both the House of Representatives and Senate as Gov. Dannel Malloy addressed lawmakers about the 2017 Session.

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides appointed Siegrist to serve on the Insurance, Veterans’ Affairs and Public Safety Committees for the 2017 legislative session.

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Republican Challenger Bob Seagrist Defeats Democrat Phil Miller in 36th House District

Bob Seagrist (R) . File photo.

Bob Siegrist (R). File photo.

AREAWIDE — Republican Bob Siegrist of Haddam Tuesday defeated incumbent Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex in the 36th House district. The four-town vote was 6,962 for Siegrist to 6,653 for Miller, a margin of 309 votes.

Miller carried the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, but the margins were too small to overcome a big 2,943-1,883 win for Siegrist in Haddam. Miller carried his hometown of Essex on a 2,259-1,787 vote, and Chester on a 1,206-1,008 vote. The result was closer in Deep River, which Miller also carried on a 1,305-1,224 vote.

The race was a rematch from 2014, when Miller defeated Siegrist, a former bartender, on a 5,522-4,701 vote.
StateRep. Phil Miller. File photo.

State Rep. Phil Miller. File photo.

The result reflects an end to Miller’s current political career that began in 1999 with an unsuccessful challenge to former Republican First Selectman Peter Webster in Essex. Miller lost a much closer race with Webster in 2001, but was elected  Essex First Selectman in 2003 after Webster resigned to take a town manager job in Vermont.

Miller served as first selectman from 2003-2011, when he was elected state representative in a February 2011 special election. Miller won a full term in 2012, and was elected over Siegrist in 2014.

Miller’s plans after relinquishing his House seat are unknown at this point.

Siegrist becomes the first Republican to represent the three towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex since 1994, when the district included Lyme and Old Saybrook, but not Haddam.
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State Rep. Miller, Challenger Siegrist Face Off in 36th District Debate

AREAWIDE — Experience and a call for a fresh voice were the themes Thursday (Oct. 13) as incumbent  Democratic State Rep. Phill Miller of Essex and Republican challenger Robert Siegrist of Haddam faced off in the 36th House District debate.

Miller and Siegrist responded to nearly a dozen questions before a crowd of about 80 district voters in the session held in the auditorium at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. The hour long  debate was moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conroy, with questions submitted to Conroy in advance by voters.

The Nov. 8 contest is a rematch from 2014, when Miller defeated newcomer Siegrist on a 5,522-4,701 vote, carrying the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, while Siegrist won his hometown of Haddam. Miller was first elected to the seat in a February 2011 special election after serving as first selectman of Essex from 2003-2011.

The rivals differed sharply on several state issues, from the state budget and finances to gun controls, tolls, and the possibility of marijuana legalization. But whatever the issue, an overriding theme was Miller’s claim of public service experience that benefits district residents against Siegrist’s call form a “fresh voice for the 36th District.”

“You won’t be well served by a poser who has no public sector experience,” Miller said, later describing the campaign as a contest of “experience and know how versus inexperience and want to.” Siegrist, a former bartender, who currently works with a landscaping business, contended Miller has been too loyal to the six-year administration of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy. “We need to change direction and stop electing career politicians whose focus is no longer clear,” he said.

The candidates agreed the state will likely face another budget shortfall in 2017, with Miller predicting a need for further spending reductions. He said legislators need more time to review budget plans before final votes on a spending package. Siegrist called for “structural changes,” including pension adjustments for unionized state workers and caps on bonding. He pledged to oppose any new or increased taxes.

A question on possible increases in the gasoline tax to fund road improvement projects brought the issue of tolls to the discussion. Miller said the gasoline tax in Connecticut is already higher than it is in neighboring states and suggested, “We need to have a conversation about tolls.” Siegrist said he would oppose any plan that includes highway tolls, which he described as “just another word for a new tax.”

There was also disagreement on gun controls, particularly legislation approved earlier this year that allows guns to be taken from residents who are subject to a court-restraining order over concerns about possible domestic violence. Miller supported the temporary restraining order gun law, declaring that “domestic violence is a major problem and the modern Republican Party believes gun rights are God-given.” Siegrist said the new state law was a “gun grabbing” measure that “takes away rights to due process.”

Miller said he is “very open” to possible legalization of marijuana, noting that it has been approved in several states and could provide a new source of tax revenue. Siegrist, while noting he supports medical marijuana, maintained the issue of full legalization of the drug needs further study.

The heated presidential contest between Democrat Hilary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump also came up during the debate. Miller said Trump is the worst presidential nominee of his lifetime, while describing Clinton as an “accomplished person,” who has been “unfairly maligned for many years.” Siegrist said his campaign is focused on state and local issues, and that he differs with some of Trump’s positions. “This about the State of Connecticut, and Phil Miller and Bob Siegrist,” he said. In a reply, Miller noted that Siegrist did not state who he would be voting for in the presidential race.

In one area of agreement, both candidates said the opiate addiction crisis in Connecticut is serious and needs to be addressed in a bipartisan manner. Siegrist said, “We need to talk about this as a community.”

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Republican State Sen. Linares, Democratic Challenger Needleman Spar in 33rd Senate District Debate

A view of the debate stage from the rear of the Valley Regional High School auditorium

A view of the debate stage from the rear of the Valley Regional High School auditorium

AREAWIDE — Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook and his Democratic challenger, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, sparred Monday in a public debate for the 33rd Senate District contest.

More than 150 voters from the 12 district towns turned out for the 90-minute debate held in the auditorium at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, with the question of which candidate represents the “political class” in Connecticut overshadowing the specific issues where the candidates differed, or nearly as often, concurred.

The session was moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conroy, who selected questions that had been submitted in advance by district voters.

The debate began with a walk-out by Green Party candidate Colin Bennett of Westbrook. Bennett, who has run previously for the seat and participated in all debates during the 2014 campaign, began with an opening statement where he said his goals are to end hunger, provide access to health care, protect the environment and affirm that black lives matter.

Bennett then claimed that Conroy had attempted to exclude him from the debate based on comments at an Oct. 5 debate in Westbrook where he criticized Needleman and urged people not supporting him to vote for Linares. “I don’t want to be where I am not wanted,” Bennett said before walking off the stage. Linares said later he had told Conroy he would not participate in the debate if Bennett was arbitrarily excluded from the outset.

The term political class entered the discussion soon after the opening statement from Needleman, where the three-term first selectman said he had been urged to run the seat this year by the Senate Democratic leadership because they wanted a candidate with experience in business and municipal government. Needleman said he told party leaders he would not be a rubber stamp, and could become their “worst nightmare,” if elected.

Linares, who was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014, scoffed at the claim, questioning why the Senate leadership would provide Needleman with a full-time campaign manager on leave from the caucus staff if they believed his election would be a nightmare. Linares contended Needleman has been a loyal supporter of Democratic “Governor Dan Malloy and the political class,” contributing funds to Malloy’s two gubernatorial campaigns in 2010 and 2014.

Needleman said Linares is the “career politician,” running for the senate seat at age 23 and laying the groundwork for a future campaign for the 2nd District congressional seat or statewide office.

But despite the sharp exchange, the two rivals agreed on several issues, including support for recently approved incentive package for Sikorsky in Stratford, providing some degree of contract preferences for in-state companies, and reducing, or for Linares eliminating, the estate or inheritance tax. The candidates agreed state employee unions would have to make contract concessions on both wages and pensions if the state faces another large budget deficit in 2017.

From left to right, Norman Needleman (D), incumbent Sen. Art Linares (R) and Colin Bennett (Green Party) make their opening statements at Monday night's debate.

From left to right, Norman Needleman (D), incumbent Sen. Art Linares (R) and Colin Bennett (Green Party) make their opening statements at Monday night’s debate.

Needleman said his experience negotiating contracts with public employee unions in Essex would be helpful in any discussions with state employee unions, though he questioned whether unions could be forced into concession talks. Linares called for mandatory legislative votes on all union contracts, and suggested a need for “additional leverage” to bring unions to the table. “The unions have not come to the table, we’ve tried that, everyone has tried that,” he said.

The candidates differed somewhat on the question of welcoming refugees from war-torn Syria to Connecticut. Needleman said while “vetting is critical,” an arbitrary exclusion based on a refugee’s country of origin or religion is “un-American.” Linares, whose family fled Cuba in the early 1960s, said he would insist on “clearance from the FBI,” because the United States does not have intelligence capabilities in Syria to screen refugees, including those who reach Europe before possible entry in to the United States.

The candidates also differed on possible increases to the state minimum wage, and gun control measures. Needleman said he supports measured increases in the minimum wage, but believes a hike to $15 per hour, as advocated by some Democrats, “is a very bad idea.’ Linares said he favors a national standard for the minimum wage, suggesting that further increases at the state level would hurt small businesses and cost the state jobs. He said the earned income tax credit is a better way to provide assistance to low income workers.

On gun control, Needleman said he is a “2nd Amendment Democrat,” but favors some additional gun control measures. He criticized Linares for opposing legislation approved earlier this year that allows guns to be seized from persons who are subject to a court restraining order where domestic violence is a factor.

Linares said Needleman is “trying to take both sides of the issue,” by referring to gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment. Linares said he opposed the temporary restraining order gun bill because it was an “overreach” that takes away due process for gun owners, and discretion for judges.

The 33rd Senate District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.
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Op-Ed: Lawn Signs, Lawn Signs Everywhere … Well, in Essex Anyway

Art_Linares_lawn_signsNeedleman_lawn_signsThey are all over the place, one after another, in the small Connecticut River town of Essex. It seems that almost every lawn in town is now covered by a flood of political lawn signs, and in this author’s unscientific survey, the most prolific are those supporting the re-election of incumbent Republican State Senator Art Linares.

Linares has served two terms in the state senate, and is now seeking a third. Challenging Linares for the state senate position is Norman Needleman, a successful businessman, who is also the first selectman of the town of Essex.

Political lawn signs in Essex are often posted in clusters of campaign signs of the candidates of the same political party. Among the lawn signs in Essex, there are also some for Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for President of the United States, and, frequently, the lawn signs of the other Republican candidates are posted around those for Trump.   

Not a Single Sign for Hillary?

Presently, there appears not to be a single lawn sign in Essex supporting the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party’s candidate for President. Perhaps the Clinton campaign feels that putting up lawn signs for her campaign in the little town of Essex is simply not worth the effort.                                 

Art_Linares_lawn_signThe largest Linares campaign sign is the one across the street from the Colonial Market in Essex. This sign is on the left hand side of the road, when going out of town from the south on Rte. 153. The dimensions of this sign would likely exceed the size of a very large kitchen table.

As for the lawn signs supporting Needleman, his medium size lawn signs are posted all over downtown Essex. Also, interestingly, Needleman lawn signs do not use his last name but rather his nickname, “Norm,” is favored. 

When Election Day finally does come, it will leave behind a plethora of campaign signs — in past elections, the winners and losers of both parties have picked up and thrown away their old lawn signs.

Norm Needleman lawn_signIt is certainly hoped that after this year’s election, the supporters of both parties will do the same, unless, of course, the unpredictable Trump decides to leave his presidential campaign signs in place … as a sort of punishment for the voters who voted against him! 

What would happen if Trump loses, and as he is currently threatening, simply rejects his loss by maintaining that it had been rigged, and that he and not Clinton, were the real winner? One can hardly imagine what kind of chaos would follow. In fact, it appears Trump is already encouraging his supporters not to accept his potential loss by engaging in protests.

If Trump does lose the election, hopefully, he will accept the result of the vote. It goes without question that the remaining candidates, such as Linares and Needleman, will accept the voter’s decision, win or lose. 

As for Trump, he appears to march to his own drum, and if he loses, he might make a howl, regardless of the damage that this kind of conduct would do to the tradition of peaceful democratic election in the United States. Clinton, like her predecessors for generations, can be counted on to accept the result, whether victory or defeat, consistent with this country’s long tradition of free elections in a democratic nation. 

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State Senate Candidate Norm Needleman Endorsed by Women’s Health Groups

ESSEX – Yesterday, Norm Needleman announced the endorsements of women’s health groups Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut PAC and NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut PAC in his State Senate campaign in the 33rd District.

Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut PAC (PPV!CT PAC) is committed to supporting and endorsing pro-reproductive rights, pro-family planning candidates for state office. Needleman was endorsed along with other candidates for Connecticut state races.

“We are very proud to endorse candidates who are committed to protecting reproductive health care,” said Chris Corcoran, PPV!CT PAC Board Chair. “The candidates we endorsed drive policy on women’s health care. Connecticut women and families should know that these candidates would ensure vital services remain intact.”

“States are the front lines in protecting women’s health and the right to choose,” said Needleman. “In the State Senate I will be an advocate for reproductive rights and access to women’s health care services. I will fight against the extremist elements that have worked their way into Hartford politics.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut PAC’s mission is to develop and sustain a constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.

“We are excited about your support for women, and look forward to your involvement in working to make Connecticut the best state in the nation for reproductive rights,” said Jillian Gilchrest, President, NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut PAC.

Needleman is challenging incumbent State Senator Art Linares who has earned the endorsement of an extreme organization – the Family Institute – in 2012, 2014 and 2016 for his opposition to common sense women’s health and reproductive rights.

PPV!CT PAC is the Connecticut state political action committee affiliated with Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut (PPV!CT). PPV!CT is the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE).

“These candidates support reproductive health, rights and access,” said Susan Yolen, PPV!CT PAC board member and Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy with PPV!CT. “We are confident each of these candidates will work to preserve and expand  access to full reproductive health care services for the people of Connecticut.”

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business over the past 37 years to become a leader in its segment, employing 150 people at facilities in Essex and Clinton. Needleman is in his third term as first selectman of Essex and was first elected as a selectman in 2003.

He is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

For more information on Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut, visit www.plannedparenthoodvotes.org.

For more information on NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut PAC, visit www.prochoicect.org.

For more information on Needleman’s campaign, visit www.norm.vote.

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Sen. Linares, Rep. Carney Say DOT Fare Hikes Symbolize CT’s “Unsustainable Path”

Sen. Art Linares (at podium) on Sept. 1 joined with Rep. Devin Carney (seated in second row) and area commuters attended a public hearing at Old Saybrook Town Hall to testify against the State Department of Transportation’s proposed fare hikes on Connecticut rail commuters. 

Sen. Art Linares (at podium) on Sept. 1 joined with Rep. Devin Carney (seated in second row) and area commuters attended a public hearing at Old Saybrook Town Hall to testify against the State Department of Transportation’s proposed fare hikes on Connecticut rail commuters.

AREAWIDE — Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Devin Carney issued the following statements regarding the state’s decision to hike rail and bus fares Dec. 1 despite vocal opposition from lawmakers and angry commuters:

“Rep. Carney, area commuters and I attended the Sept. 1 fare hike public hearing at Old Saybrook Town Hall to send a clear message,” Sen. Linares said.  “That message was that the overall cost of living in Connecticut continues to grow and grow.  From state tax hikes to health care expenses, costs keep going up year after year.  I hear this every day from people in the communities I represent.

He continued, “That’s why I asked the DOT to not increase fares.  That request fell upon deaf ears, and it really shows how the voices of working families and people on fixed incomes are not being heard by our state government.  Tax hike after tax hike.  Rate hike after rate hike. Fare hike after fare hike.  We need to change course.  We need to get off this unsustainable path.  Rep. Carney and I will continue to be voices for taxpayers and commuters until our message is heard in Hartford.”

Rep. Carney commented, “My concern with the fare hike is twofold. First off, I believe the process was flawed.  The DOT held several public hearings and the point was to hear how this proposal would impact the people. Across the state there was overwhelming opposition to this plan, yet it seems those views fell on very deaf ears and it appears the DOT was just paying lip service. Second, as I stated in my comments, I understand fare hikes will occur from time to time, but rail fares have risen drastically since 2012 due to similar hikes over the past four years.”

He added, “These perpetual increases are unfair to commuters – especially the working class. Utilizing Shoreline East and Metro-North, as opposed to further clogging I-95, is something that the state should promote and encourage – yet I worry that some people may soon be priced out of using these trains as an option.”

Sen. Linares (Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.  He can be reached at 800 842-1421 or on the web at www.SenatorLinares.com.

Rep. Carney (Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov) represents Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  He can be reached at 800 842 1423 or on the web at www.RepCarney.com.

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Essex First Selectman Opposes State Takeover of Local Health Departments, Denounces New Cost to Small Towns

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman.

ESSEX — Earlier this week, State Senate candidate and local businessman Norm Needleman spoke out against the yet-to-be-announced state takeover of local health departments. Needleman opposes the top-down, behind-the-scenes process which includes the elimination of local health departments, the loss of local control, and increased cost to towns in what amounts to a regional property tax.

The draft changes in Connecticut state statutes were distributed to town Health Directors as “draft Local Health Consolidation Statutes” by the Commissioner of Connecticut Department of Public Health Raul Pino.

“This secret state takeover plan is yet another example of the state barreling down the wrong path without input from towns,” said Needleman. “Forced regionalization is terrible policy and causes more unnecessary over-regulation of towns without any proven cost savings. This is a canary in the coal mine for more state and county control.”

Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno agreed with Needleman.

“I appreciate Norm’s attention to this key issue,” said Eno. “I agree with his position that this is an administrative overreach without any kind of formal hearing process. This is part of what is wrong with state government.”

The changes propose eliminating local health departments and consolidating them under one board and director for each county.

“In Essex we have an efficient and effective Health Department,” said Needleman. “In what world does it make any sense to turn a well managed town office over to the mess in Hartford?”

In addition, the changes propose that each town pay 1.5% of their budget to the new county health department. The draft legislation states: “towns, cities and boroughs of such district appropriate for the maintenance of the health district not less than one and one half percent of their previous fiscal year’s annual operating budgets.”

“As First Selectman of Essex I have kept our Health Department well under 1.5% of our annual town budget with a professionally managed team,” said Needleman. “This proposal will cost more for towns all across the region and amounts to a county tax. If elected State Senator I will fight foolish state overreach like this takeover.”

“The cost is a percentage of the town budget,” said Eno. “So this is a regional property tax to feed the state bureaucracy. Thanks to Norm for being out ahead on this issue and looking forward to his leadership in the State Senate.”

Norm Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business over the past 37 years to become a leader in its segment, employing over 225 people. Needleman is in his 3rd term as First Selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003.

“Norm understands the importance of local control as an experienced town leader,” said Campaign Manager Kevin Coughlin. “That is why he has been endorsed by both Republican and Democratic First Selectmen right here in the 33rd district.”

Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

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Sen. Linares, Senate GOP Unveil Legislative Agenda: “A Confident Future”

Sen. Art Linares and the Connecticut Senate Republicans on Sep. 15 unveiled their policy agenda “A Confident Future” for the 2017 legislative session. From left to right: Sen. Henri Martin, Sen. Kevin Witkos, Sen. Len Fasano, and Sen. Linares. Details of the plan can be found at www.ctsenaterepublicans.com and www.SenatorLinares.com .

Sen. Art Linares and the Connecticut Senate Republicans on Sep. 15 unveiled their policy agenda “A Confident Future” for the 2017 legislative session. From left to right: Sen. Henri Martin, Sen. Kevin Witkos, Sen. Len Fasano, and Sen. Linares. Details of the plan can be found at www.ctsenaterepublicans.com and www.SenatorLinares.com .

AREAWIDE — On Sept. 15, Sen. Art Linares and the Connecticut Senate Republicans unveiled their policy agenda for the 2017 legislative session.

The plan “A Confident Future” presents multiple policy proposals aimed at moving Connecticut in a new direction to grow jobs, renew business confidence, build opportunity, and restore people’s trust in government.

The plan outlines the Republican priorities the caucus will pursue in the 2017 legislative session which begins in January.

“A Confident Future” identifies three main areas Republicans will focus their efforts:

1)      Creating Financial Stability and Predictability. A reliable state with business confidence is the best environment to grow jobs. By reforming the state’s spending and borrowing, Republicans plan to improve the state’s financial health to support a more predictable business environment so that job creators don’t have to worry about what new tax proposals could be awaiting them in bad budget years.

Republican budget proposals include properly funding transportation needs without tolls or new taxes like the mileage tax, reducing the size of state bureaucracy, and making long term structural changes to government. The Republican priorities also include specific tax relief proposals to reduce the burdens on individuals and job creators, such as property tax relief and phasing out taxation of pension income.

2)      Supporting Families and Growing Opportunity. Connecticut’s future depends on supporting our families and creating opportunities for all to succeed. The Republican plan includes policy proposals to strengthen Connecticut cities and help improve life for families in urban areas. It also includes reforms for the state’s child welfare agency, proposes restoring education funding that was cut in recent budgets, protects seniors and the developmentally disabled, and offers new ideas to improve health care and insurance quality and accessibility.

3)      Restoring Trust in Government. The Republican legislative agenda contains proposals to ensure that government operates efficiently and transparently and uses tax dollars as wisely as possible. Proposals include ideas to reduce DMV wait times, eliminate waste, live within our means, strengthen campaign financing laws, and create a more transparent budget writing process.

Sen. Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at 800 842-1421 and Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov .

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Lyme First Selectman Eno (R) Endorses Needleman (D) for State Senate

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno (left) today endorsed Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman for State Senator.

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno (left) today endorsed Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman for State Senator.

LYME – Today, Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno endorsed Democratic State Senate Candidate Norm Needleman.

“Although I generally try to avoid all things political, given the state of affairs at the state level, I’ve decided to be more public in terms of of the upcoming state senate race,” said Eno. “Norm has my unequivocal support.”

Eno, a Republican, has served as the first selectman of Lyme since 2007 and, with a brief interlude, for 10 years prior to that.

“Norm has the chief elected official experience at the town level that is crucial to being an effective representative,” Eno continued. “We need more small to mid-level town CEOs in the legislature to stand up to laws in Hartford that have terrible unintended consequences for our towns. His work in the public sector paired with his experience as a tried and true business person gives him a leg up to make sure we have the best possible representation given our state’s budget problems.”

“I am endorsing Norm, who is far and away the most qualified candidate for State Senate,” said Eno. “I know him as a man that is collaborative instead of adversarial. He will not be tethered to his political party. He will work on both sides of the aisle and be a team player. And he will be honest with you even when you disagree.”

Norm Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business over the past 37 years to become a leader in its segment, employing 150 people at facilities in Essex and Clinton.

“Ralph has been a great example for me on how to run a small town,” said Norm Needleman. “He’s hands on, hard-working, honest, and always involved. He knows what it takes to run a municipality. It means a tremendous amount to me to receive this endorsement from a man I have viewed as a mentor in so many ways.”

Needleman is in his third term as first selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003.

“This district has 12 towns with a lot in common and Ralph and I share a common perspective,” continued Needleman. “We both understand the perspective of small towns, the importance of home rule, and that we need fewer mandates and rules from Hartford.”

Needleman is challenging incumbent State Senator Art Linares, who is running for a third term and like Eno, is a Republican. Linares was first elected in 2012 to the 33rd State Senate District seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote.

The 33rd State Senate District consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

Click here for audio of the event: http://norm.vote/eno.mp3.

Click here for photos of the event: http://bit.ly/2bZWKDT.

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Sen. Linares Presented With a 2016 “Children’s Champion” Award

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Merrill Gay.

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Merrill Gay.

AREAWIDE — In a Sept. 8 ceremony at the start of a Middlesex Coalition for Children meeting at deKoven House in Middletown, Sen. Art Linares was presented with a 2016 “Children’s Champion” award by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance for his leadership on issues related to Connecticut’s young children.

The other local legislators honored at the same ceremony were Sen. Len Fasano, Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Rep. Matthew Lesser and Rep. Noreen Kokoruda. A total of 29 legislators were recognized in ceremonies statewide.

Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance (www.earlychildhoodalliance.com) is a statewide organization committed to improving outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety, and economic security for children ages birth to age eight. Every year, the Alliance recognizes legislators for their leadership on issues that impact the well-being of Connecticut’s young children in the areas of health development, early care and education, nutrition, and safety.

An Assistant Minority Leader, Sen. Linares, 28, is the lead Republican senator on the state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee. He also serves on the Education Committee, the Internship Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Linares has previously served on the Children’s Committee, the Commerce Committee and the Banks Committee.

Sen. Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.  On the web: www.SenatorLinares.com.

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CT Early Childhood Alliance Names Sen. Linares a 2016 “Children’s Champion”

Sen. Art Linares high fives students during a school visit in Clinton.

Sen. Art Linares high fives students during a school visit in Clinton.

AREAWIDE — Sen. Art Linares has been named a 2016 “Children’s Champion” by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance for his leadership on issues related to Connecticut’s young children.

Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance (www.earlychildhoodalliance.com) is committed to improving outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety and economic security for children ages birth to eight.

“I’m honored to be named a Children’s Champion,” Sen. Linares said.  “My focus at the State Capitol is on improving the quality of life for people of all ages in Connecticut.  That includes working with my colleagues in Hartford to shape legislation that impacts the well-being of Connecticut’s young children in the areas of healthy development, early care and education, nutrition and safety.”

He continued, ” I remain committed to passing effective state policies which help all of Connecticut’s children succeed.  I thank the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance for this recognition.”

An Assistant Minority Leader, Sen. Linares, 27, is the lead Republican senator on the state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee. He also serves on the Education Committee, the Internship Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Linares has previously served on the Children’s Committee, the Commerce Committee and the Banks Committee.

Sen. Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.  He can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at 800 842-1421. On the web:www.SenatorLinares.com .

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Blumenthal Discusses Proposed High Speed Rail Route with Community Leaders Friday Morning in Old Lyme

Senator Richard Blumenthal (File photo)

Senator Richard Blumenthal (File photo)

OLD LYME — Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder issued the following announcement Thursday, Aug. 11:
Senator Richard Blumenthal will be meeting in the Old Lyme Town Hall Meeting Hall, Friday, Aug. 12, at 10:30 a.m. This will be a roundtable discussion with community leaders from area towns, though the public is welcome to attend.

“After recent issues raised by the USDOT’s concept for future rail service in Connecticut and the operation of rail service by Amtrak, Senator Blumenthal will meet with municipal leaders to hear their concerns and ideas for the future of rail service along the shoreline from the Connecticut River to the Rhode Island border. This discussion will help inform Senator Blumenthal on the impact of federal policies on local communities and determine how he may assist the town leaders.”

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State Senate Candidate Needleman is First to Reach Fundraising Goal

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman.

AREAWIDE — Democratic State Senate candidate Norm Needleman, who is running in the 33rd District, announced today that his campaign has reached the fundraising requirements needed to qualify for public financing in compliance with the Citizens’ Election Program. Needleman is the first to qualify for such financing in the 33rd District race.

“Since I began this campaign I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support,” said Norm Needleman. “Every day I meet more and more residents of the 33rd District who are ready to fix Hartford and bring a non-partisan, business approach to our state government. I am proud to have their support.”

Norm For Senate raised over $16,390 from 364 individual contributors, with 319 of those contributors coming from one of the 12 towns in the 33rd State Senate District (Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook). The campaign far outraised the required totals of $15,000 from 300 donors residing in the District.

Making good on fulfilling his promise to run a clean campaign without the influence of special interests, Needleman refused to accept donations from lobbyists. None of the 300-plus donors to the campaign are lobbyists.

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, an Essex-based manufacturing business that employs over 200 people, most of whom are local to the District. He also serves as First Selectman of Essex.

“Norm’s solution-focused, business-empowering message is really resonating throughout the twelve towns of the 33rd district,” said Campaign Manager Kevin Coughlin. “There’s a real groundswell around his candidacy from citizens across the spectrum.”

The Citizens’ Election Program is a voluntary system of public campaign financing that is designed to encourage citizen participation and limit the role of private money in politics.  The program was created under former Republican Governor Jodi Rell, after her predecessor, John Rowland, resigned amid corruption allegations. To qualify, candidates must raise small qualifying contributions and agree to adhere to spending limits and disclosure requirements.

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House Approves Courtney-Sponsored Amendment Restricting Sale of Plum Island

Representative Joe Courtney

Representative Joe Courtney

Local Congressional Representative Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced yesterday, Thursday, July 7, that a bipartisan amendment he had led, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Peter King (R-NY), to prohibit the sale of Plum Island was passed by the House of Representatives.

The amendment, which will prohibit the General Services Administration (GSA) from using any of its operational funding to process or complete a sale of Plum Island, was made to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2017..

In a joint statement, the Representatives said, “Our amendment passed today is a big step toward permanently protecting Plum Island as a natural area. Plum Island is a scenic and biological treasure located right in the middle of Long Island Sound. It is home to a rich assortment of rare plant and animal species that need to be walled off from human interference.”

The statement continued, “Nearly everyone involved in this issue agrees that it should be preserved as a natural sanctuary – not sold off to the highest bidder for development.”  Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump had shown interest in the property at one time.

plum_is_01a

In 2008, the federal government announced plans to close the research facility on Plum Island and relocate to Manhattan, Kansas. Current law states that Plum Island must be sold publicly to help finance the new research facility.

Aerial view of Plum Island.

Aerial view of Plum Island.

The lawmakers  joint statement explained, “The amendment will prevent the federal agency in charge of the island from moving forward with a sale by prohibiting it from using any of its operational funding provided by Congress for that purpose,” concluding, ” This will not be the end of the fight to preserve Plum Island, but this will provide us with more time to find a permanent solution for protecting the Island for generations to come.”

For several years, members from both sides of Long Island Sound have been working in a bipartisan manner to delay and, ultimately, repeal the mandated sale of this ecological treasure. Earlier this year, the representatives, along with the whole Connecticut delegation, cosponsored legislation that passed the House unanimously to delay the sale of Plum Island.

 

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In 33rd CT Senate District, Incumbent Linares, Challenger Needleman State Their Respective Cases

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

AREAWIDE — In a recent fund raising e-mail message, State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) stated his case for re-election for a third term in this November’s general election.

He said, “Over the past two years, we have taken on the big spenders, as well as those who believe that temporary cuts are the way to deal with the budget up in Hartford. I stood up and voted against a budget that called for quick one time solutions, which would continue to be a burden on the citizens of our state.”

Linares continued, “I will not stop making the argument that in order to solve our fiscal problems, we need a real structural change to how we spend our tax payer dollars. We also need to put forth policies that promote a business friendly environment, so that those who create jobs have an opportunity to do so.”

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

When asked to comment on his qualifications as a State Senator, Norman Needleman, the Democratic candidate opposing Senator Linares, wrote, “As a local business owner for over 30 years and a first selectman for almost five years, I know how we can get Hartford to work better for our businesses and towns. I’m running for state Senate to change how state government budgets and operates. I will be a Senator who finds real solutions to Connecticut’s fiscal problems.”

The extensive 33rd State Senate district, where the Linares-Needleman race will take place, comprises the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, Westbrook and portions of Old Saybrook.

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Democrats Nominate Essex First Selectman Needleman for 33rd Senate District Seat

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (file photo)

AREAWIDE — Democrats Monday nominated Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman to challenge two-term Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook in the 12-town 33rd Senate District.

Needleman, now in a third term as first selectman of Essex, was the unanimous choice of about 50 delegates gathered for the party nominating convention held at Angelico’s Lakehouse in East Hampton. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland , Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Linares was first elected in 2012 to the seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook.  He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote.

Needleman, 64, is a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who has lived in Essex since 1984. He is a founder and owner of Tower Labs, a company that manufactures effervescent products at plants in Clinton and the Centerbrook section of Essex. Needleman was elected to the Essex Board of Selectmen in 2003, and to the position of first selectman in 2011.

Needleman was nominated by Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, who described Needleman as a “special friend,” who offers voters “three in one, a good person, a good businessperson, and a great local town leader.” Bransfield said getting more municipal leaders elected to the General Assembly would “help save Connecticut” friom its current fiscal problems.

There were seconding remarks from Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in a Democratic primary in 2012, former State Rep. Brian O’Connor of Clinton, and 36th District State Representative Phil Miller of Essex, who picked Needleman as his running mate when he served as Essex first selectman from 2003-2011. Miller, who is seeking a third full term this year, described Needleman as “a person who cares for other people and follows through.”

In remarks to the convention, Needleman said small towns like most in the 33rd District are getting hurt as a result of the state’s fiscal problems. Needleman described himself as a “problem solver”, and contended Linares has been “an ineffective legislator who is working on building his own resume and not representing the 33rd District.”

Another candidate who recently expressed interest in the nomination, former Green Party nominee Colin Bennet of Westbrook, was present at the convention, but was not nominated and made no request to address the delegates. Bennet, who garnered 527 votes districtwide as the Green Party nominee in 2014, said he may pursue his campaign as a petition candidate in the Nov. 8 election.
Bennet said the Connecticut Green Party is expected to nominate a different candidate for the 33rd District seat this year.
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Duane Gates Appointed to Open Deep River Selectman Seat

DEEP RIVER — Eight weeks after the unexpected March 25 death of 26-year Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith, the board of selectmen returned to a full complement of members Friday with the appointment of Duane Gates to fill an unexpired term ending in November 2017.

Gates, a Democrat, was appointed at a special meeting by interim First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., also a Democrat, and Republican Selectman Dave Oliveria to fill the vacancy created last month when McDonald, with Oliveria’s support, was appointed as interim first selectman. Gates was sworn in to office immediately by Town Clerk Amy Winchell.

McDonald said six residents had submitted letters of intent and qualifications since the vacancy was created after his appointment as first selectman on April 21. McDonald said he and Oliveria had met with all of the interested individuals, holding closed door special meetings with prospective candidates on May 14 and last Monday. “It came down to a very difficult decision,” he said.

Gates 52, is a lifelong Deep River resident with a background in the construction industry. Gates currently works as a union representative and recording secretary for the Hamden-based Operating Engineers Union Local 478. He is the married father of a 22-year-old daughter.

Gates has served previously on the local board of education, to which he was first elected as a Republican, and the Region 4 Board of Education, where he served eight years from 2005-2013. Gates was elected to a full six-year term as a Democrat in 2005, and for a two-year vacancy term from 2011-2013.

Gates said he has been interested in serving on the board of selectmen, and had expressed his interest in conversations with Smith. “I am honored to serve the remainder of the term and I look forward to working with Angus and Dave,” he said.

The appointment Friday completes the transition that was forced by Smith’s unexpected death. The Gates appointment could be forced to a special election with a petition signed by at least 158 town voters that must be submitted to the town clerk within 15 days of the appointment. There was no petition for special election with McDonald’s appointment as interim first selectman.

The current terms expire on November 21, 2017, two weeks after the next municipal election on Nov. 7, 2017

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36th House Election a Rematch Between Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller and Republican Bob Siegrist

Republican nominee Bob Siegrist stands with State Senator Art Linares (R-30th) after the former accepted the Republican nomination to run for the State Rep. seat currently held by Phil Miller.

Republican nominee Bob Siegrist (right) stands with State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd), who nominated Siegrist to run for the State Representative seat currently held by Phil Miller (D-36th).

AREAWIDE — Party nominating conventions this week have set up a Nov. 8 election rematch, with Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller’s bid for a third full term facing a challenge from Haddam Republican Bob Siegrist in the 36th House District that is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

In 2014, Siegrist was awarded the GOP nomination in June, following the withdrawal of a candidate nominated at the convention in May. After a spirited campaign, Miller was re-elected on a 5,522-4,701 vote, with Miller carrying Chester, Deep River and Essex and Siegrist carrying Haddam. Miller was elected to the seat in a February 2011 special election while serving his fourth term as first selectman of Essex. He was elected to a full term in 2012.

BobS&woman_204KB

State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) offers congratulations to Bob Siegrist.

Siegrist was the unanimous choice of about 15 delegates and supporters at the convention Monday at the Pattaconk Bar & Grille in Chester. Seigrist was nominated by Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook, who holds the 33rd Senate District seat that includes the four district towns. In seconding remarks, Phil Beckman of Essex said Seigrist, “gets the priorities, the budget, economy and taxes,” which he described as the “Bermuda Triangle in the Legislature right now.”

The nomination of Siegrist (left) was seconded by of Essex.

Bob Siegrist (left) stands with Ed Munster.

In brief remarks after the nomination, Seigrist said he would focus on priorities and work to represent all of the residents of the four district towns. Seigrist, 32, currently works with a landscaping business after working previously as a bartender before his 2014 campaign.

Miller was nominated for a third full term Tuesday by delegates gathered in the community room at Chester Town Hall.  He was nominated by Lisa Bibbiani, the Deep River tax collector who said Miller has dedication and a positive attitude. In seconding remarks, Brian Cournoyer, chairman of the Essex Democratic Town Committee, praised the incumbent’s “passion for the environment and the Lower Connecticut River Valley.”

Miller told the delegates that this year’s legislative session, which struggles with a looming state budget deficit, mirrored the situation when he arrived at the Capitol in late February 2011. Miller defended the 2016-2017 budget plan approved by the House last week on a 74-70 vote, noting the plan made tough choices to address the budget deficit, including $900 million in cuts, while avoiding tax increases and a deeper cuts to education funding.

Miller said he was also proud to vote last week against a Republican amendment that would have ended the Citizen’s Election Program funding for legislative campaigns. Miller said the program, established in 2007 under a law pushed by his predecessor in the 36th District seat, current Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone, limits the influence of large campaign contributions while also helping to level the playing field for challengers, including Siegrist. Spallone, an Essex resident, was chairman of the Tuesday convention.

Miller said he plans to run an active and positive campaign, and is ready for public debates with Siegrist. “I’ll be out and about meeting people like I normally do,” he said, adding “It’s my case to make and I think it is going to be clear, if it is not already, that I am a much better candidate.”

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Republicans Nominate Art Linares for Third Term in 33rd Senate District

Sen. Art Linares (File photo)

Sen. Art Linares (File photo)

AREAWIDE — Republicans Tuesday nominated incumbent State Senator Art  Linares of Westbrook for a third term in the 12-town 33rd Senate District. Linares was the unanimous choice of about 45 delegates and alternates gathered for the nominating convention at the Old Town Hall in East Haddam.

Linares is facing a challenge in the Nov. 8 vote from Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman of Essex, who is expected to be nominated for the seat at the Democratic convention on May 23 in East Hampton. Needleman, 64, has served as first selectman of Essex since 2011. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Linares was nominated by State Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Hampton, who described the incumbent as a “great advocate for all of the towns,” in the district. The nomination was seconded by Edward Marcolini of Old Saybrook, who described Linares as, “young, vibrant and personable.”

In brief remarks, Linares said he has worked for spending reform and fiscal responsibility at the capitol, contending that overly optimistic budget planning by legislative Democrats had led to first ever cuts in the state ECS (Education Cost Sharing) grants for cities and towns. Linares, 27, said he is ready for the election challenge. “I stand before you a four-year-veteran, a little more seasoned, but just as ready to knock on thousands of doors and wear out shoes as that 23-year-old kid was four years ago,” he said.

Linares declined to comment on Needleman’s candidacy, but confirmed he is ready to debate his opponent on more than one occasion during the fall campaign.

Linares, a co-founder of the Middletown-based Greenskies solar energy company, was elected in 2012 in a district that has been represented for 20 years by the late former Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a  22,672-17,326 vote in a race where Bjornberg also had the Working Families Party ballot line and Linares had the ballot line of the Connecticut Independent Party.

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Colin Bennett Announces Run for State Senate as Democrat

Colin Bennett (file photo)

Colin Bennett (file photo)

WESTBROOK — Longtime area resident and small business owner Colin Bennett has announced his candidacy for state senate in the 33rd District – as a Democrat. Bennett has run for the seat multiple times, always as a Green, so this will be his first foray into the Democratic Party.

“I’ve been impressed with the popularity and success of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and have taken inspiration from his campaign,” Bennett explains. “Bernie and I agree on almost every major issue, so it makes sense that I would follow in his footsteps, especially since he carried nine of the twelve towns in the 33rd District,” he says.

“The thing is, this election is about more than me. It’s about more than any of the individual candidates or the parties they represent. Elected officials should be accountable to the people, not corporate lobbyists, but that’s no longer the reality – the people of Connecticut, and this country, have been sold out. I’m running because I want to help change that.”

In this election Bennett will take part in the Connecticut Citizens’ Election Program for the first time. According to Bennett, “The ability to fundraise has very little to do with the ability to be an effective legislator, especially when so many campaign contributions come from corporations, PACs and other special interest groups that are trying (successfully) to buy influence with candidates. Fortunately, the CEP is a big step in the correct direction.”

Bennett concludes, “People in the country are ready for and demanding change – Bernie and Trump have proven that. Given the (long overdue) anti-establishment political climate and with the support of the Citizens’ Election Program, the Bennett for Senate campaign is going all the way this year.”

For more information about Bennett, visit www.facebook.com/Bennett.for.Senate.

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Essex First Selectman Needleman Declares as State Senate Democratic Candidate

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman makes a point during his speech announcing his run for the State Senate.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman makes a point during his speech announcing his run for the State Senate.

AREAWIDE — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman Tuesday announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 33rd Senate District, setting up a high profile contest with two-term Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook in the sprawling 10-town district.

Needleman, 65, told a crowd of about 60 friends and supporters gathered at the Gelston House in East Haddam that  he is ready to offer “common sense, sound business judgment, problem-solving skills, and an awareness of how decisions made in Hartford affect our small towns.” Needleman said he would work to build consensus at the Capitol, suggesting the 28-year-old Linares has been “just another partisan voice,” who “retreats to his ideological corners.”

A large crowd of supporters attended the event at the Gelston House in East Haddam.

Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, Deputy Secretary of the State and former state representative James Spallone and Democratic State Central Committeeman Justin Kronholm applaud Needleman’s announcement

A Brooklyn, N.Y. native who moved to Connecticut in the 1980s, Needleman is the founder and owner of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturer of effervescent products with 200 employees and plants in Essex and Clinton. He was elected to the Essex Board of Selectmen in 2003 as the running mate to former Democratic First Selectman Phill Miller, moving up to the town’s top job after Miller was elected state representative in the 36th House District in 2011. Needleman was unopposed for a second term in 2013, and last fall was re-elected to a third term, defeating Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac by an 80-vote margin.

Needleman said he made a final decision to run for the legislative seat on March 29, the day Linares cast one of only a handful of opposing votes against an interim deficit reduction package that was backed by both Democratic and Republican leaders. Needleman said he is planning an active campaign, and hopes to participate in several public debates with Linares.

Needleman_shaking_hands

Deputy Secretary of the State and former state representative James Spallone congratulates Needleman on the announcement of his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 33rd Senate District

Several area  Democratic leaders turned out for Needleman’s announcement, including Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, who described Needleman as a “true humanitarian,” who is widely respected by all of the other mayors and first selectmen in the state.”

Also on hand were the current roster of Democratic chief elected officials in the 10-town district, including  seven-term Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, who described Needleman as “a man who understands the needs of Middlesex County,” Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, elected last fall, and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr. who was appointed as interim first selectman earlier his month after the unexpected death of long-time first selectman Richard Smith.

There was also one apparent Republican supporter in attendance, longtime Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno.

The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Lyme, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Linares, a co-founder of the Greenskies solar energy company, was elected in 2012 to a seat that had been held for two decades by the late former Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. Linares won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,672-17,326 vote in a race where Bjornberg also had the Working Families Party ballot line and Linares had a Connecticut Independent Party ballot line.

Needleman is the only candidate for the Democratic nomination that will be formally awarded at a May 23 convention. Republicans are expected to nominate Linares for a third term at a May 11 convention in East Haddam.  There may also be a Green Party candidate in the race. Colin Bennett of Westbrook, running on the Green Party line, garnered 527 votes in 2014.
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Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna Chastises Both Parties for Current Budget Mess 

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

In an exclusive interview with Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr., on May 2, Fortuna, a Republican, castigated the leadership of both parties for putting the state of Connecticut, “into a budgetary mess.” Fortuna expressed particular alarm that the state’s budgetary shortfall will be over $1.5 billion, “and that’s for this year alone,” he stressed.

“That is $1.5 million,” Fortuna repeated.

Furthermore, Fortuna said that in the next two years, the state’s budgetary shortfall would reach over $4 billion. He commented that a contributing factor to the state budget’s shortfall is, “Retired civil servants are living longer and longer.”

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Trump Carries Three Local Towns in GOP Presidential Primary, Democrats Split

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton

AREAWIDE — Businessman Donald Trump carried Chester, Deep River and Essex as he rolled to a sweeping victory Tuesday in the state presidential primary, while Hillary Clinton carried Essex and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took Chester and Deep River in the Democratic vote.

Clinton, who won the statewide vote, led Sanders in Essex 513-458, with 13 voting uncommitted. In Deep River, Sanders led 339-242, with 6 uncommitted. In Chester, Sanders led  361-277, with 7 uncommitted.

In  the Republican contest, Trump took Essex with 407 votes, with Ohio Governor John Kasich polling 297 votes. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had 73 votes, with 10 uncommitted. In Deep River, Trump led Kasich 173-94, with  29 votes for Cruz and 4 uncommitted. In Chester, Trump led Kasich 133-103, with 27 votes for Cruz and 3 uncommitted.
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Essex Republican Town Committee Endorses Linares and Siegrist

ESSEX – At its monthly meeting, the Essex Republican Town Committee  (ERTC) endorsed candidates for the upcoming  election in November.

State Senator Art Linares, the incumbent from Connecticut’s 33rd Senate District, and Bob Siegrist, the challenger  in Connecticut’s 36th House District, received unanimous endorsements from the committee.

“These candidates bring fresh and unique perspectives that are essential when addressing the current budget crisis in Connecticut,” said ERTC Chairman Bruce MacMillian. “We have an opportunity to elect a legislature that addresses the budget, jobs and unfunded mandates – the issues that hit home with everyone.”

 

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CT River Museum Trustees Visit State Capitol

Connecticut River Museum Board of Trustees Chair Joanne Masin, Sen. Art Linares and Connecticut River Museum Trustee Eileen Angelini.

Connecticut River Museum Board of Trustees Chair Joanne Masin, Sen. Art Linares and Connecticut River Museum Trustee Eileen Angelini.

ESSEX – Historical societies and preservationists from across the state gathered at the State Capitol last month to raise awareness about their organizations’ dedication to promoting Connecticut’s heritage for present and future generations.

The Connecticut River Museum (www.ctrivermuseum.org) was among the groups that travelled to Hartford to speak with Sen. Art Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) and other state lawmakers.

The museum’s mission is to lead in the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. By deepening understanding of the river’s importance to past generations, the museum aims to inspire the stewardship of future generations.

The museum maintains its National Registered buildings on Steamboat Dock in Essex, and provides a spectacular waterfront park as a venue for museum functions, community events and quiet reflection.

 

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State Reps Observe Safe Haven Day in Westbrook

Carney and McLState Representatives Devin Carney (pictured right) and Jesse MacLachlan (left) held a press conference on April 4 at Middlesex Hospital, Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook to promote and discuss Safe Haven Day.

Last year, lawmakers designated April 4 of each year to be observed as Safe Haven Day to foster awareness of safe havens in Connecticut. The Safe Havens law, which passed in 2000, enables a distressed parent to anonymously leave an infant at a hospital emergency room without fear of prosecution for abandonment, up to 30 days after birth.

Carney (R-23) can be reached at devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov or (800) 842-1423 and MacLachlan (R-35) can be reached at jesse.maclachlan@housegop.ct.gov or at (800) 842-1423.

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Deep River Selectmen Make No Decision on First Selectman Vacancy, Town Department Heads Reporting to Democrat Angus McDonald Jr.

DEEP RIVER— The two remaining members of the board of selectmen, Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. and Republican David Oliveria, Thursday made no decision on appointing an interim first selectman to fill the vacancy created by the March 25 death of longtime Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith.

More than 30 residents filled the meeting room at town hall Thursday as the selectmen held their first meeting since Smith’s death. In a prepared statement, Oliveria said he and McDonald would be working together to manage the town until the appointment of an interim first selectman, who would serve the reminder of Smith’s unexpired 14th term ending on Nov. 20, 2017.

Oliveria said they hope to make an appointment “as soon as possible,” while adding that until then town department heads will be reporting to McDonald, who will be keeping late afternoon office hours at town hall beginning Tuesday.  State statute gives the two remaining selectmen 30 days to appoint an interim first selectman, a period that runs through at least April 22.

If Democrat McDonald and Republican Oliveria cannot agree on an appointment, the statute would also give Democratic elected officials, including Selectman McDonald, the tax collector and the registrar of voters, an opportunity to make an appointment.  McDonald said after Thursday’s brief special meeting that he is “interested” in serving as interim first selectman, but has not yet made a final commitment with the Deep River Democratic Town Committee to accept the appointment.

Elected with Smith in 2011, McDonald is a co-owner of the Angus McDonald Associates engineering firm. McDonald said he is discussing with colleagues at the firm whether he would be able to serve as interim first selectman for the next 20 months. McDonald said he is hopeful the selectmen could vote on an appointment at the board’s next regular meeting on April 12. “We have 30 days and we may need 30 days but I hope not,” he said. The appointment of either McDonald or Oliveria as interim first selectman would create a new vacancy on the board that would be filled under the statutory appointment process. Any appointment of an interim first selectman, or even a new member of the board, could be forced to a special election with a petition signed by at least five percent of the town’s total registered voters, or about 158 voter signatures. The petition would have to be filed with the town clerk within 15 days of any appointment.

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Linares Hosts Town Hall Meeting in Chester

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

Sen. Art Linares hosted a Town Hall Meeting yesterday evening at the Chester Town Hall Community Room.

Linares had invited the public to hear the latest update from the State Capitol and to have their questions answered.

 

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Essex First Selectman Needleman Has Strong Admiration, Fond Memories of his “Friend and Mentor” Dick Smith

Two friends -- the late Dick Smith, First Selectman of Deep River (left) and Norman Needleman, First Selectman of Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Two friends — the late Dick Smith, First Selectman of Deep River (left) and Norman Needleman, First Selectman of Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman paid tribute to the late Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith in a statement sent to ValleyNewsNow.com.  Needleman said, “Dick was a wonderful guy. He frequently told me how much he loved his family and his job. They were the lights in his life. He managed Deep River as a family, from the staff that worked for him to the residents he loved.”

Needleman continued, “He was an amazing First Selectman (26 years, I think) and an outstanding police officer (44 years) who dedicated his life to making Deep River and the entire Connecticut River Valley the wonderful place that it is. He was a friend and mentor who listened well and made whoever he was with feel special. His love of people made him the ultimate type of public servant.”

Finally, expressing the opinion likely shared by many, he said, “I am going to really miss him.”

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Courtney, Linares Pay Tribute to Dick Smith, Services Announced

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons ... and for every job in town.

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons … and for every job in town.

DEEP RIVER — Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) issued the following statement after the passing of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick was the iconic small town First Selectman who did everything from running town meetings, to plowing snow, to cleaning up storm damage with public works, as well as crowd control at the Deep River Muster, and attending every community event in town. Deep River is one of Connecticut’s jewels because it had a leader like Dick, who was always there to help those in need and help the town grow smartly. Dick was a friend whose support I will always remember and treasure, and he should live on as an example of a citizen-public servant to all who hold elected office.”

State Senator Art Linares (D-33rd), who represents Deep River, issued the following statement on the passing of First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick Smith epitomized Deep River. He was a friend to all and his advice was valued by Democrats and Republicans throughout the Connecticut River Valley. Dick was a role model public official who dedicated himself to serving his town and its residents. His loss is deeply saddening and our thoughts and prayers are with Dick’s family and the people of Deep River.”

Services for Dick Smith have now been announced as follows:

There will be a Candlelight Vigil on Monday, March 28, at Deep River Town Hall at dark (about 7:30 p.m.)

Calling hours will also be at the Town Hall on Tuesday, March 29, from5 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 30, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chester at 11 a.m.

Deep River Town Hall Closings

Deep River Town Hall will close at noon on Tuesday and remain closed on Wednesday.  Normal business hours will resume on Thursday.

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Town of Deep River Announces Death of First Selectman Dick Smith

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — The Town of Deep River has announced the passing yesterday afternoon (Friday, March 25) of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith. An announcement on the town’s website states, “The Town of Deep River has suffered a terrible loss in the passing of Dick Smith. The town has lost a leader of over 26 years, the community has lost a friend, and we are saddened beyond words, but its immediate thoughts are with Dick’s family, who has lost a father and a grandfather.” The statement adds, “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Details of services have not yet been announced.

Our reporter Charles Stannard wrote in an article published July 28, 2015, on ValleyNewsNow.com that Smith, then 64, was, “one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut.”  The article also noted that Smith said he, “never considered stepping aside this year,” adding, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith told Stannard during the interview that his priorities for the next two years were, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” along with a firehouse renovation and expansion project.

Stannard also reported, “Smith’s last challenge for the top job came in 2007 from the now defunct Deep River Independent Party. He was uncontested for re-election in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.”

We extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Smith’s family.

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Senators Fight to Preserve Crucial Hospital Services

AREAWIDE – Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares met with area hospital officials at the Legislative Office Building on March 23 to discuss ways to protect vital health care services for vulnerable populations like the disabled, children and seniors.

To protect those most in need, Formica and Linares, along with Senate and House Republicans, are proposing a plan to restore the governor’s funding cuts to Connecticut hospitals. The 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends in May.

Sen. Formica (www.senatorformica.com) represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Sen. Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

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Linares Welcomes Gillette Castle, Friends of CT Parks to State Capitol

SenatorLinaresFriendsofCTStateParks3-9-16 281 new On March 9, Sen. Art Linares (center) welcomed representatives from Connecticut State Parks to the State Capitol to mark State Parks Day. Discussions focused on ways to preserve, protect and enhance Connecticut’s state parks, including Gillette Castle State Park. This year, Linares is part of a first-of-its-kind effort to amend the state Constitution to better ensure protection of state-owned forests, parks, farmland and other conservation lands.

He is shown here with Harold Niver and Theodora Niver at the State Capitol. The Nivers bring William Gillette and his wife, Helen, to life in an entertaining and informative performance at Gillette Castle State Park. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, but Holmes was brought to life by William Gillette. Gillette also put together the “costume” – the hat, pipe, lens and cape – that we associate with Holmes to this day.

Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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Senator Linares Visits Middlesex Community College

linares photoSen. Art Linares (center) visited Middlesex Community College to speak to students in Jane Stamler’s political science class on March 8. Linares discussed his duties as a state senator and the reasons why he chose public service.  He urged the students to consider ways in which they can serve their communities.  Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 and at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

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Key Issues Debated by Linares and RiverCOG at State Capitol

Senator Linares Lower CT River Valley COG Meeting 2-24-16 (7 of 22)

AREAWIDE – On Feb. 24 Sen. Art Linares (at far right) joined with members of the Lower CT River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) at the State Capitol to discuss key issues being debated during the 2016 legislative session. Shown in the photo with him, from left to right, are Haddam First Selectman Lizz Milardo, East Hampton Town Manager Michael Maniscalco and Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee Member and Past Chair Darlene Briggs.

Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 or at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

The RiverCOG has 17 member towns, including Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

According to its website, “The RiverCOG brings together local governments to coordinate land use and transportation planning on a regional basis. RiverCOG provides a forum to foster communication and collaboration among its member municipalities in identifying and addressing these and other regional issues.”

RiverCOG has an office at 145 Dennison Road in Centerbrook, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information about RiverCOG is at www.rivercog.org or by calling (860) 581-8554.

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Senator Invites Comments on New Bill to Eliminate Tax on Social Security Benefits

Sen. Art Linares speaks with a taxpayer at the Haddam Senior Center.

AREAWIDE – Sen. Art Linares is co-sponsoring a bill at the State Capitol that would completely eliminate the personal income tax on Social Security benefits.

Linares said the measure would provide tax relief to seniors across Connecticut. “I think this is a proposal that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground on,” he added.  “I urge seniors and residents of all ages to contact their legislators and urge them to pass this common sense tax relief.”

Linares said a public hearing will be held on the proposal on Friday, Feb. 26.  He said those wishing to submit testimony in favor of the bill can do the following:

·         Email testimony to: FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

·         In the email’s subject line, put House Bill 5062.

·         Testimony can be as brief as you like, but should include your name and town.

Taxpayers should feel free to copy Linares on the testimony at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

Those who wish to testify in person may attend the hearing on Feb. 26 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.  For detailed information on testifying in person or submitting written testimony, visit www.cga.ct.gov and review ‘Citizen’s Guide/Guide to Testifying’.

Questions may be directed to Linares at 800-842-1421.

House Bill 5062 can be viewed here.

Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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Linares Supports Marinas, Opposes Dredging Proposal

Sen. Art Linares

Sen. Art Linares

AREAWIDE – On Feb. 19, Sen. Art Linares testified against a legislative proposal that would complicate harbor dredging and negatively impact Connecticut marinas.

“My district is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Connecticut,” Linares said in his testimony to state lawmakers on the Environment Committee.  “Coastal towns like Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Clinton. Today, I join with marina owners from my district in expressing serious concerns about Bill 78: An Act Concerning the Disposition of Dredged Materials from Certain Harbors and Ports on Long Island Sound.”

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection joined Sen. Linares in opposing the bill, noting that the proposal seeks to address issues that have already been resolved. An environmentally sensitive plan that is responsive to the need to dredge long-neglected harbors was adopted by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in December.

“The marine trades industry supports more than 7,000 jobs in Connecticut,” Linares said.  “But, like many small businesses across Connecticut, our marinas are struggling. As state legislators, we should be doing all we can to provide these job creators with the flexibility they need in order to help them grow and thrive over the long term.  Dredging is the lifeblood of these businesses.  Dredging provides access to marinas.  That access is key to keeping our marinas afloat.  Policies which impact that ability to dredge will without a doubt impact the scores of marinas in my district and throughout the shoreline.”

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AARP CT Volunteers Meet With Carney and Linares at Capitol

From left to right: Rep. Devin Carney, Jean Caron of Old Saybrook, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook and Sen. Art Linares.

From left to right: Rep. Devin Carney, Jean Caron of Old Saybrook, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook and Sen. Art Linares

AREAWIDE – Volunteers from AARP Connecticut met with Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Devin Carney at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Feb. 10 to discuss key issues that will be debated during the 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Sen. Art Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. He can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or 800-842-1421.

State Rep. Devin Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District covering Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. Carney can be reached at devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov or 800-842-1423.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives. More information at aarp.org.

 

 

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