April 25, 2018

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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Town Committees Reorganize for 2016-18 Term

CHESTER / DEEP RIVER / ESSEX — Democratic and Republican Town Committees for Chester, Deep River, and Essex have reorganized for the 2016-2018 term after party caucuses held in January. The new town committees will pick delegates for state and district nominating conventions in May, and also nominate candidates for the next town elections in 2017.

One new twist in the process this year is a new state law requiring signatures from all prospective town committee members at the time of the caucus. Republicans in Chester and Deep River were unable to secure some signatures in time for the caucus, but will fill out the membership by appointments when the new committees are seated in March.

CHESTER — Chester Democrats have picked a 25-member town committee with six new members, including newly elected First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Trisha Brookhart, Ted Taigen, Jacqueline Stack, Michael Price, Isaac Ruiz, and Susan Wright. Incumbents returning to the town committee are former First Selectman Edmund Meehan, Sandy Senior-Dauer, David Fitzgibbons, Lynne Stiles, Henry Krempel,, newly elected Selectwoman Charlene Janecek, Robert Gorman, Roger Goodnow, Marta Daniels, Lori Ann Clymas.

Chester Republicans picked a 26-member town committee that includes five new members, newly elected Selectwoman Carolyn Linn, Mandy Grass, Chris Fryxell, Meredith Devancy, and Robert Blair, who is the son of former longtime Republican First Selectman Robert Blair. Returning incumbents are Mario Gioco, former Selectman Bruce Watrous, Beverly Watrous, Joyce Aley, Joel Severance, former Selectman Tom Englert, Terri Englert, Karl Ohaus, Tracey Ohaus, Jonui Malcynsky, David Clark, John Hutson, Kristina Seifert, Melvin Seifert, Victor Hoehnebart, Jill Sakidovitch, Brian Sakidovitch, Jamie Grzybowski, Alex Strekel, and Virgil Lloyd.

DEEP RIVER — Democrats have picked a 22-member town committee that is comprised entirely of incumbents. The committee includes Carmela Balducci, Leigh Balducci, Richard Balducci, Stephen Bibbiani Lisa Bibbiani, Richard Daniels Jr. Dorothy DeMichael, Bruce Edgarton, Janet Edgarton, Nancy Fischbach, Joanne Grabek, George Howard, Ann Joy, Jonathan Kastner, Russell Marth, Karol Tulp Magee, Mary Maraschiello, Roy Monte, Valerie Nucci, Mark Reyher, Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., and First Selectman Richard Smith.

Republicans have picked a 15-member town committee that includes two new members, Dale Winchell and Mark Grabowski. Returning incumbents are Greg Alexander, Douglas Dopp, Michelle Grow, Alice Johnson, Town Treasurer Tom Lindner, Doug Nagan, Selectman David Oliveria, Rolf Peterson, Grace Stalsburg, Cynthia Stannard, Rosemary Unan, Donald Routh, and Town Clerk Amy Winchell.

ESSEX — Democrats have selected a 28-member town committee that includes three new members, William French, Ellen Pfarr and Yolanda Lowe. Returning incumbents are John Bairos, Mark Bombaci, Brian Cournoyer, former First Selectman Carl Ellison, Lois Ely, Geraldine Ficarra, Town Treasurer Jim Francis, Frank Hall, Tax Collector Megan Haskins, Campbell Hudson, Jonathan James,,Louise Ketron, Loretta McClosky, State Rep. Phil Miller, First Selectman Norman Needleman, Selectwoman Stacia Llibby, Lon Eeidman, Stanly Sheppard, Mary Ellen Pleva, James Spallone, John Stannard, Claire Tiernan ,Kathleen Tucker, Alvin Wolfgram, and Lawrence Shipman.

Republicans have picked a 25-member town committee that includes five new members The new members are Mary Louise Till, Keith Russell, Lynn Herlihy, John Frese, and Phil Beckman, the party’s unsuccessful nominee for board of selectmen in the 2015 town election. Returning GOP incumbents are  Susie Beckman, Kenneth Biombaci, Herb Clark, Edward Cook, Peter Decker, Ann Dixon, Selectman Bruce Glowac, Robert Fisher, D.G. Fitton,, Adrienne Forrest, John Heiser, James Hill, Jerri MacMillian, Bruce MacMillian, Town Clerk Joel Marzi, Barbara Ryan, David Sousa, Alice Van Dueursen, Gary Van Deursen, and  June Wilson.
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State Legislators Came to Old Saybrook to Listen and Share

legislatorsAREAWIDE – Three state legislators, Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (shown above, left to right), held open office hours on Jan. 25 at the Saybrook Point Pavilion.

The state legislators updated taxpayers on the key issues that will be debated in the 2016 legislative session at the State Capitol. Several area residents turned out for the public meeting to get their questions answered.

Those who could not attend may contact Carney at 800-842-1423 and Formica and Linares at 800-842-1421.

The legislative session runs through May.

 

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Linares Joins Fellow Senators to Announce Amendment to Improve Protection of CT Open Space

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

HARTFORD — Sen. Paul Formica, Sen. Art Linares and Sen. Kevin Witkos joined with environmental advocates on Jan. 13 to unveil a constitutional amendment proposal to improve the protection of forest land, parks, wildlife areas and other open space in Connecticut.

The legislators’ proposal would implement strengthened restrictions on the sale of preserved land.

The next legislative session begins in February.

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

Sen. Paul Formica represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford.

Sen Kevin Witkos represents Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury, and Torrington.

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Democrat Gister Defeats Linn in Chester’s First Selectman Race, Englert Loses Seat

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek celebrate their respective elections.

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek celebrate their respective elections.

Mario Gioco read the following “unofficial results” of the Chester Board of Selectmen election to those waiting in the town hall:
First Selectman:
Lauren Gister (D) 680
Carolyn Linn (R) 413
Selectman:
Charlene Janecek (D) 688
Tom Englert (R) 404
Gister commented, “We will work very hard and we will make you proud.”
Full story by Charles Stannard coming tomorrow.
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Carolyn Linn is Republican Nominee for Chester First Selectman Through Ballot Petition

Republican Carolyn Linn will face Democrat Lister in the Nov. 3 election for  Chester First Selectman.

Republican Carolyn Linn will face Democrat Lauren Gister in the Nov. 3 election for Chester First Selectman.

CHESTER — There will be a contest for first selectman in the Nov. 3 election after all as Carolyn Linn claims the Republican nomination for first selectman with a ballot petition submitted to the town clerk Tuesday. Fifty-five-year-old Linn will face Democratic nominee Lauren Gister, aged 57, for the position left open with the retirement of two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan.

Republicans came up empty on the first selectman nomination at the July 27 party caucus that nominated incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert for a fourth term, along with a handful of other candidates for positions on the local ballot. Gister a lawyer and former Marine, had been nominated at the Democratic caucus on July 21, with Charlene Janecek as the running-mate for board of selectmen. Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher is not seeking a new term.

But in the succeeding days, Linn, a 26-year resident and certified veterinary assistant who runs a local pet services business, emerged as a candidate. Town Clerk Debra Calamari said Linn submitted a petition signed by 47 town Republicans late Tuesday, one day before Wednesday’s deadline for primary petitions.

State election law allows a position left open by the party nominating caucus to be filled by a primary petition that must be submitted by an Aug. 12 deadline. The petition must be signed by a least five percent of the town’s 453 registered Republicans. With no other candidate, there is no primary and the new candidate claims to Republican line through the petition.

Linn, in a statement issued Thursday, said her goals include “preserving our historic personality while responsibly developing local opportunities” that would enable the town to prosper. She cited taxes and economic development as concerns, and suggested her “entrepreneurial and volunteer spirit” would benefit the town.

Linn said she was a volunteer EMT with the Chester Volunteer Ambulance Service after arriving in town in the early 1990s, and has also been involved with the Chester Winter Carnivale and the Shoreline Soup Kitchens. She is the mother of two children, both of whom graduated from Region 4 schools.

Linn is the first Republican nominated for first selectman since 2009, when former First Selectman Tom Marsh was re-elected for a third term. Marsh resigned in August 2011 to take a town manager job in Vermont. Republicans did not nominate a candidate for first selectman in 2011, when Meehan was easily elected over a challenger nominated by the Chester Common Ground Party. Meehan was uncontested for a second term in 2013, a year when there were no contests for any positions on the town lengthy ballot.

Along with a contest, this year’s nominations ensure the town’s next first selectman will be a woman, either Gister or Linn. The first, and only, woman to serve as Chester First Selectman is Bettie Perreault, a Republican who served from 1989-1993.

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Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith to Run Unopposed for Record 14th Term

Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith takes a break at his desk.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A smiling Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith takes a break from his work for our photographer.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith has been nominated for a record 14th term, and will again run unopposed on the Nov.3 town election ballot. Two-term incumbent Selectman Angus McDonald Jr. has been nominated for a new term as Smith’s running-mate, with Republican Selectman David Oliveria nominated for a fourth term on the three member board.

Slates nominated by the two parties appear to set up contested races for two seats on the board of finance, and one spot on the Region 4 Board of Education. Democrats have nominated incumbents George Eckenroth and Carmella Balducci for board of finance, with Republicans nominating Mark Grabowski and John Wichtowski for finance board.

Democrats nominated Susan Hollister for a two-year vacancy on the Region 4 board, with Republicans nominating appointed incumbent Lauri Wichtowski for the vacancy term. Republicans nominated incumbent James Olson for a full six-year term on the Region 4 board.

Smith, at 64 one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut, said Tuesday he never considered stepping aside this year, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith noted, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” and a firehouse renovation and expansion project are priorities for the next two years.

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, 2001, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.

Three incumbent town office holders are uncontested for new terms, including Republican Town Clerk Amy Macmillian Winchell, first elected in 2009, Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bbibbiani, also first elected in 2009, and long-time Republican Town Treasurer Tom Lindner.

Democrats nominated Tadria Cialgo, Tracy Dickson. and incumbent Miriam Morrissey for the local board of education Republicans nominated Imran Munawar, Paula Weglarz, and incumbent James Olson for the local school board.

Democrats nominated incumbent Leigh Balducci for board of assessment appeals, with Republicans nominating Thomas Alexa for board of assessment appeals.

Democrats nominated incumbents Alice Procter and Mary Maraschiello for library board of trustees, along with Linda Hall, a former member and chairwoman of the Region 4 school board.

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Chester Republicans Make No Nomination for First Selectman, Open Seat May be Uncontested in November

CHESTER — Town Republicans will not nominate a candidate for first selectman, a move that could leave new Democratic nominee Lauren Gister uncontested for the top job in the Nov. 3 vote. The partial slate endorsed by the Republican caucus would appear to set up the second consecutive town election where all positions on the lengthy ballot are uncontested.

Ten party members turned out for the caucus at town hall, including Doreen Joslow, a local businesswoman and planning and zoning commission member who said she had considered a run for the top job that is left open this year with the retirement of two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan. But Joslow said the demands of the full-time job, and the relatively low annual salary currently set at $55,000, led her to conclude that “now is not the right time” for a candidacy.

Republicans nominated three-term incumbent Selectman Tom Englert for a new term. Englert served briefly as interim first selectman in 2011 after the departure of former Republican First Selectman Tom Marsh. The last Republican to be nominated and serve as first selectman, Marsh resigned in August 2011 to take a town manager job in Vermont.

Republicans nominated Jon Joslow for one of two ballot spots for board of finance. Incumbent Bruce Watrous, a former selectman, was nominated for a new term on the board of assessment appeals. Republicans nominated Steve Merola for a new term on the planning and zoning commission Kris Seifert and Bob Blair III were nominated for inland-wetlands commission. Blair is the grandson of former First Selectman Bob Blair, a Republican who held the top job from 1965 to 1989.  Mel Seifert, who also serves on the planning and zoning commission, was nominated for water pollution control authority.

Republicans did not nominate a candidate for Region 4 Board of Education, the local school board, zoning board of appeals, or library trustees, though town committee chairman Mario Gioco said the committee is still seeking candidates for open spots that could be placed on the ballot through submission of petition signatures by an Aug 12 deadline.

Gister, a local attorney and former Marine, was nominated for first selectman by town Democrats at a July 21 caucus, with Charlene Janecek, the current Democratic registrar of voters, nominated as the running-mate for board of selectmen. Joe Cohen, a Democratic town committee member who had expressed reservations about Gister as a first selectman nominee, has said he is considering a run for first selectman as a petition candidate, a move that would require submission of signatures equal to one percent of the total vote for first selectman in 2013 by an Aug. 5 deadline.

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Essex First Selectman Needleman Faces Election Challenge from Selectman Glowac

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (file photo)

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (file photo)

ESSEX — Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman’s bid for a third term will face an election challenge from Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, a former first selectman who returned to the board in the town’s uncontested election of 2013.

Needleman and Glowac were nominated for the Nov. 3 ballot at party nominating sessions Wednesday. Needleman will be running with two-term incumbent Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby.

Glowac is running with selectman candidate Phil Beckman, a former U.S. Navy officer who retired from the service last year.

Needleman, 63, is a local businessman who served four terms on the board of selectmen from 2003-2011 with former Democratic First Selectman, now State Representative Phil Miller. Needleman won the top job in 2011, defeating Republican nominee Bruce MacMillian on a 1,415-993 vote. He was unopposed by town Republicans for a second term in 2013.

Selectman Bruce Glowac

Selectman Bruce Glowac. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

But the uncontested election of 2013 also brought Glowac back to the board as the minority Republican selectman. Glowac, also 63 and a lifelong resident, had served as first selectman from 1991-1995, later assuming the job of director of facilities for Region 4 schools. Glowac, addressing about 25 Republicans at the caucus, said one key reason he is running is to give town voters a choice on the ballot, avoiding the uncontested town elections that occurred in 2013 and also in 2007. “It’s a special time and it is important to give our residents a choice on the ballot,” he said, adding that uncontested elections for top policy-making positions, “… are unhealthy to the process and do a disservice to our community.”

Glowac said the role of town government is to “direct and control change, adding, “It needs to be done with extreme care so we don’t lose the qualities that we love in Essex.” Glowac said he would retire from the Region 4 job at year’s end if he is elected first selectman,

Needleman said he is proud of the Democratic record over the last 12 years, and “loves” the job of first selectman. “It allows you to touch people’s lives and make a real difference,” he said. Both nominees promised a positive campaign, and each praised their rival. Needleman said Glowac is “a terrific guy and a huge help on the board of selectmen,” adding the current board “is a terrific working board and I’ll do what I have to do to make that continue.” Glowac said he respects Needleman and has tried to work with he and Libby over the past two years.

Democrats nominated incumbents Fred Vollono and Donald Mesite for new terms on the board of finance. Mesite was appointed to the board in December 2013 after the former board chairman, Democrat Jim Francis was elected town treasurer. Republicans nominated Geri MacMillian and former Selectman Vince Pacileo for the finance board. Pacileo, who works as director of administrative services for the Town of Stonington, served on the board of selectmen from 2003-2009, and was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for 33rd Senate in 2008 and 36th House in 2012.

Democrats nominated incumbent Jennifer Clark for a new six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education. Republicans nominated Mary Louise Till, a retired teacher who is also a practicing attorney, for the Region 4 seat. Democrats nominated incumbent board Chairman Lon Seidman for the local board of education, with Republicans nominating incumbent D.G. Fitton for the local board, where elections are uncontested.

Democrats nominated Mark Bombaci and former member Richard Helmecki for board of assessment appeals. Republicans nominated Bruce MacMillian and Keith Russell for board of assessment appeals.

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Needleman States Priorities for Possible Third Term as Essex First Selectman

Selectman Stacia Libby stands with First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Selectman Stacia Libby stands with First Selectman Norman Needleman.

ESSEX — At his July 22 announcement of his intention to run for a third, two-year-term as First Selectman of Essex, Norman Needleman noted two priorities that he would address, if re-elected.  The first is the completion of the new public works projects presently underway in Essex and the second is to establish a new, more accountable way for delivering public services to the residents of Essex by the various town agencies.

New Public Works in Essex: Several Projects Already Complete …

With regard to the first electoral priority — completing new public works in Essex — that one is well underway. The old tennis courts behind Essex Town Hall have been brought up to “tournament play” condition.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman holds his treasured grandson.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman holds his treasured grandson.

The parking lots, also behind the town hall, have  been completely regraded with a new playground installed that has proved to be very popular with both young and old alike. Also, Essex Town’s Hall’s frontage has been refreshed with a new lawn and improved signage, along with a general upgrade.

… Others Still on the Agenda

Needleman has ahead of him, should he be re-elected, the completion of the total refashioning of the Ivoryton section of the Town of Essex. Extensive new streets have already been put in place and the final touches of the new streetscape improvements in Ivoryton would likely extend well into a possible Needleman third term.

Also, contemplated by Needleman are upgrades in the Centerbrook section of Essex, but these are still on the drawing boards.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.36.58 AMImproved Coordination of Services to Residents by Essex Town Employees  

In addition to these superstructure improvements on Needleman’s re-election roster is a determination to tackle the manner in which Essex Town Departments and workers deliver services to Essex residents. Such an initiative would review the degrees of coordination among Town agencies.

It is Needleman’s view that there is presently a serious lack of coordination among Town agencies in the delivery of services to the town and, if re-elected, he intends to change this.

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Chester Democrats Nominate Lauren Gister for First Selectman, Charlene Janececk for Selectman

Atty. Lauren Gister

Atty. Lauren Gister

CHESTER — Democrats Tuesday nominated Laruen Gister for the open first selectman position, with Charlene Janecek, the party registrar of voters, as the running-mate for board of selectmen.

Both seats on the three-member board, controlled by Democrats since 2011, were open after the incumbents declined to seek new terms in the Nov. 3 vote.

Two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan formally advised the Democratic Town Committee in June that he would not seek a new term. Selectman Lawrence Sypher, first elected in 2009, also declined to run again.

Gister, a local attorney and 25-year member of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Janececk, were nominated on a unanimous voice vote from the approximately 70 Democrats that turned out for the caucus held at the Chester Meeting House. Gister had been endorsed by the Chester Democratic Town Committee earlier this month. But comments made in the nominating speech for the position indicated there had been some questions and possible objections to Gister’s nomination.

In nominating Gister, David Fitzgibbons claimed there had been an effort to “swiftboat,” her possible candidacy in the days preceding the caucus. The term is a reference to Republican backed attacks on Democratic nominee John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. He claimed the actions were damaging to the party and the town while praising Gister’s experience as a Marine and ability to “lead us forward with compassion.”

Fitzgibbons was clearly referring to a letter published in a local weekly from Joe Cohen, a town committee member. In the letter published last week, Cohen contends that Gister lacks government and managerial experience, does not own property in Chester, and has not voted in recent elections. Cohen, a public relations consultant and former newspaper reporter, was rumored to be planning a caucus challenge to Gister’s nomination. But Cohen, who was present Tuesday, did not put his name in nomination at the caucus.

Gister said after the nomination that she was expecting a challenger from Cohen. She said “ugly statements” before the caucus had referred to personal problems she faced and overcame in recent years, including a divorce and subsequent foreclosure on her property in town.

Gister, 56, is a mother of four children, ages 14-31 Gister said she was born in California, but moved to Connecticut at age 14 and graduated from Hall High School in West Hartford.. A 19-year resident who maintains a law practice in town, Gister said she was approached by town committee members about a possible candidacy earlier this month.

Cohen said after the caucus that he is hoping other candidates emerge for the first selectman position over the next two weeks to provide town voters with a contest. Cohen said he is “pondering” a position run as a petition candidate, but is unlikely to challenge Gister’s nomination in a Democratic primary. He offered no apologies for his letter to the editor about Gister. “Telling the truth and raising concerns about legitimate issues is not in any way character assassination.” he said.

Democrats also nominated a slate of mostly incumbents for other positions on the municipal election ballot. Lori Ann Clymas, currently serving on the board of finance, was nominated for a six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education. Incumbent Jennifer Rannestad was nominated for a new term on the board of finance.

Incumbents Errol Horner and Keith Scherber were nominated for new full terms on the planning and zoning commission, with incumbent Peter Zanardi nominated for a two-year term on the commission. New candidate Jacqueline Stack was nominated for planning and zoning commission alternate. Incumbents Maria Scherber and David Fitzgibbons were nominated for local board of education, along with new candidates John Stack and John Ropiak.

Incumbent Mark Borton was nominated for a new term on the zoning board of appeals, incumbent Kim Senay was nominated for a new term on the inland wetlands commission, and incumbent James Pease was nominated for a new term on the water pollution control authority. Incumbent Sandy Senior-Dauer and Karin Badger were nominated for library board of trustees.

Republicans hold their nominating caucus Monday. No candidates have announced for the Republican nomination for first selectman. Cohen, or any other possible challengers, face an Aug. 5 deadline to submit signatures to run as a petition candidate.

Aug. 12 is the deadline for primary petitions.

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State Bond Commission Set to Approve $3.8 Million Loan Tuesday for Essex Place Centerbrook

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) is reporting the state Bond Commission is scheduled to approve funding to provide a $3,824,718 loan to Essex Place Centerbrook, LLC, to assist with construction of 22 elderly rental units in Essex.

The funding, provided under the Housing Trust Fund, is for 30 years at 1 percent.

“I am pleased the Bond Commission is set to approve this funding request to continue to the development of affordable apartment rentals,” Miller said. “This is an important investment in our community and I appreciate the Governor’s support for not only this project, but for making affordable housing a statewide priority.”

Janice Atkeson, Essex Housing Authority Chair, welcomed the news that the funding was on the Bond Commission’s agenda for approval saying, “I want to express my gratitude to Representative Miller and everyone who worked to make this happen. We are looking forward to the vote.”

The special meeting of the State Bond Commission will be Tuesday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1-E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

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Miller Applauds Historic Student Loan Rate Cut

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE — State Representative Philip Miller (D-36th) is applauding a recent announcement by the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) that it will offer a fixed interest rate of 4.95 percent for new student loans, down from its current rate of 6.75 percent.

The rate is also significantly lower than the upcoming Federal PLUS loan rate, which will be 6.84 percent, and is the lowest rate CHESLA has ever offered. CHESLA will also be increasing the maximum allowed debt-to-income ratio from 40% to 43%.

“This announcement by CHESLA is certainly good news for students over-burdened with large student loans, along with their parents,” Rep. Miller said. “Hopefully, this development should help make higher education more affordable to more students in our state.”

These money-saving changes follow legislative passage of House Bill 6907, which asked CHESLA to develop a plan to lower student loan interest rates and increase the maximum allowable debt-to-income ratio.

Rep. Miller said students and parents can contact CHESLA at www.chesla.org for additional information or call (800) 935-2275.

Editor’s Note: Philip Miller is state representative for the 36th Assembly District comprising the Towns of  Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.

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Linares Supporting Rubio for President, Co-Hosts $2,700 per Person Event in Stamford  

Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares is supporting U.S. Senator Marco Rubio for President of the United States. Linares made his presidential choice known by inviting contributors to attend a $2,700 a person fundraiser for Rubio on Thursday, June 4, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Hilton Stamford Hotel at 1 First Stamford Place in Stamford.

“Marco Rubio, A New American Century” is the theme of the event, which will feature, “A roundtable discussion with U.S. Senator Rubio” by those attending. Linares is co-hosting the Rubio event with Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola and Chris Meek.

Tickets to the Rubio event can be obtained by contacting Anne Rogers at arogers@marcorubio.com, or by calling 662-315-4775. Those persons who wish to purchase a ticket to the event, or to make a contribution to the Marco Rubio for President campaign, can do so provided they fill out a form giving their payment method, name, occupation, phone number, email address, mailing address, and spouse’s name, occupation of spouse if it is a joint contribution, among other personal information.

Also noted is that, “Contributions to Marco Rubio for President are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.” Similarly noted is, “Individuals may contribute up to $2,700 for the Primary Election,” and the statement that, “Contributions from corporations, labor union, foreign nationals [as specified] and federal government contractors are not permitted.”

Editor’s Note: The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme and Old Saybrook.

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Miller Testifies in Support of a Bill to Increase Education Grant for Haddam

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

HADDAM — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) testified this week in support of legislation that he is co-sponsoring that would increase the education grant for Haddam up to the 50 percent  level under the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula (ECS).

Miller testified before the legislature’s Appropriations Committee on SB 816, “An Act Establishing A Minimum Level Of Funding Under The Education Cost Sharing Grant Formula.”  Miller was joined by Haddam First Selectwoman Melissa Schlag and Region 17 Haddam-Killingworth Superintendent, Dr. Harry Thiery.

Miller pointed out that of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, more than 40 of them are overfunded under the ECS formula, while 19, including Haddam, are underfunded below the 50 percent ECS funding level. He added that introducing a bill that would fully fund Haddam would be futile, because similar requests have died in committee in the past.

“This bill, however, would bring the 19 lowest, including Haddam, that are all funded less than 50 percent, at least up to the halfway point,”  Miller commented. “It is not a long term solution, but it is a step in the right direction. We should fund the overfunded municipalities at the full funding level, and no more.”

First Selectwoman Schlag, speaking in support of the bill, told committee members the proposed legislation is a step in the right direction, saying, “If we can’t fix the regressive property tax system in Connecticut, let’s at least fix the ECS system making it fair for all municipalities, large and small.”

Miller noted that the bill has bi-partisan support, which he believes gives the measure a better chance of passage as it continues along the legislative process.

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Panel Discussion Tonight Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Landmark Woman’s Rights Decision

Civil rights pioneer Estelle Griswold stands outside the offices of Planned Parenthood in New haven, Conn.

Civil rights activist and feminist  Estelle Griswold stands outside the offices of Planned Parenthood in New Haven, Conn.

The Shoreline League of Democratic Women (SLDW) has announced it will host a panel presentation and discussion ‘Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.’ The event will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday evening, April 2, Westbrook Library (Lower Level), 61 Goodspeed Drive, Westbrook, CT 06498.

Guest panelists include Connecticut State Representative Kelly Luxenberg and Susan Yolen, VP for Public Policy and Advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. This event is free and open to the public.

In 1965, Estelle Griswold of Executive Director of Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut and Yale Physician and Professor Dr. Buxton challenged the State’s interference in a woman’s right to access birth control, and by extension a woman’s right to privacy over her own body. Upon opening a clinic in New Haven, they were both promptly arrested and appealed to the Supreme Court. Winning a 7-2 victory, they established case law that would ensure women this basic human right across the United States.

Fifty years later, the SLDW shines a light on Griswold and Buxton, and remembers the rights we take for granted today were often hard won, but are inalienable.

The SLDW (http://www.sldw.org) is a chapter of the Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women (CFDW), which is a chapter of the National Federation of Democratic Women. The SLDW continues to seek membership from women who live in Essex, Chester and Deep River as well as Old Lyme, Lyme, Clinton, Madison, Guilford, Branford, Killingworth, Old Saybrook and Westbrook,  Meetings are held monthly from September through May.

The SLDW is dedicated to educating its members about political and social issues important to women of all ages in the Valley-Shore area. Women in the local district are encouraged to join the SLDW and participate in the organization’s valuable work in the community. Members can be involved in any capacity, whether it is 30 minutes a month, or 30 minutes a year. As a part of the SLDW educational charter, members will be notified of important pending state and national legislation.

For more information, email sldworg@gmail.com or contact Kathleen Skoczen at 860-669-7034 or Belinda Jones at860-399-1147. Visit the SLDW website at http://www.sldw.org.

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New State Funding Announced for Elderly Affordable Housing in Essex

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

ESSEX — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) has welcomed the announcement that elderly affordable housing development in Essex will benefit from a $60 million statewide investment to bolster housing programs announced by Governor Dannel P. Malloy.

The funding for Essex is as follows:

  • Essex Place, Essex– Department of Housing will provide up to $3.83 million to assist in the development of Essex Place, a newly constructed 22-unit affordable elderly apartment building.  Essex Place will be located adjacent to the existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing development.  The site is walkable via town sidewalks to local services, grocery stores, restaurants and other community resources. The project is in close proximity to public transportation offered by the Estuary Transit District (ETD) that has regularly scheduled service on the Riverside Shuttle from Chester to Old Saybrook.  The project will consist of 18 one-bedroom and 4 two-bedroom rental units.  The units will serve residents or below 80% of the area median income.

“I welcome the Governor’s announcement that Essex will be awarded $3.83 million for the development of Essex Place. The development of affordable elderly apartments will help residents who live in the community stay in the community,” Rep. Miller said, “In addition the construction of new units has a positive economic impact by creating jobs and providing dollars for the purchase of materials and services. I thank Governor Malloy for this initiative in Essex.”

Rep. Miller is House Chairman of the Planning and Development Committee.

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State Representative Phil Miller Sponsors Five Environmental Bills in Legislature

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D – 36th)

AREAWIDE — State Representative Phil Miller, whose legislative district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam, has introduced five environmental bills in the Connecticut State Legislature in Hartford. Miller’s environmental bills range from limiting the use of pesticides in state parks to limiting the sale of ivory and rhino horns.

Miller, who was recently appointed House Chairman of the General Assembly’s Planning and Development Committee, also serves on the House’s Environmental Committee and House Program Review and Investigations Committee.

Asked for details of the five bills on which he is focusing, Miller responded by email as follows:

  • House Bill 5653. Chemicals are of high concern to children — this is a great bill, which gives our Department of Public Health a platform from which to make suggestions to industries regarding potentially harmful ingredients. It is being opposed by industries who feel they can adequately self-regulate. And I have a bridge for sale!
  • House Bill 6837. Pesticide use at state parks, athletic fields and playgrounds. We banned harmful pesticides in our pre-K through eighth grades in 2006, but the industry has been bitterly fighting extending the ban to the twelfth grade, as successfully has been done in New York State. The state should set the example by succeeding at sustainable turf maintenance at state properties first, and then we can further uphold children’s safety. It is ironic that I am petitioning the Essex Conservation Commission to refrain from spraying pesticides at the Bushy Hill Preserve, where tadpoles should eat mosquito larva underwater and birds and bats should take care of the flying adults.
  • Senate Bill 349. Single-use, carry-out plastic and paper bags and the use of reusable bags. We are trying to phase out plastic and limit paper, and encourage new standards for reusable bags to combat the environmental and public health problems borne from plastic pollution. This is being worked on, so we can get it right to make a difference.
  • House Bill 6035. The Long Island Sound Blue Plan mandates accurate mapping and biotic inventories to maintain and enhance ecology.
  • House Bill 6955. The ivory and rhino horn ban. There is an Asian- centered, worldwide market in ivory and rhino horn, which we can help stop by banning these materials, with exemptions for antique pieces more than 75-years-old or musical instruments made before 1975. This would aid us in recovering historic pieces to museum collections, while inhibiting trade in newer black market material. We are being opposed by antique dealers and collectors, many of whom have newer pieces in their collections without even knowing it. This bill is of special concern to us locally, because Ivoryton and Deep River were the world centers of ivory manufacture a hundred years ago, and we have come to terms with our past being complicit in an earlier slaughter, which, in turn, has inspired the present illicit industries of Asia that stretches from Africa and around the globe.

Miller also gave the following additional information:

Pesticides harm water and soil quality and are linked with cancer, birth defects, behavioral disorders, developmental delays, and they are ever more concentrated further each year as the pests evolve to kill the lawn.

In addition to the bills, the budget has some dire consequences for the environment because it would defund the Clean Water Fund, the Water Planning Council and the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) — a very effective watchdog presence.

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Linares Addresses Hispanic Federation

Senator Art Linares addresses the Hispanic federation

Senator Art Linares addresses the Hispanic Federation

AREAWIDE — Senator Art Linares (at podium) addressed the Hispanic Federation March 18 during the 2nd Annual Connecticut Legislative Luncheon at the State Capitol. The event, which was attended by several elected officials, brought together more than a dozen Latino community based organizations from across Connecticut.

The discussion focused on programs which serve many of the state’s half million Latinos.

For more information, visit www.senatorlinares.com and www.hispanicfederation.org .

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

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Connecticut Non Profits Connect with Linares

Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) meets with Senior Public Policy Specialist of the CT Association of Nonprofits Julia Wilcox (right).

Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) meets with Senior Public Policy Specialist of the CT Association of Nonprofits Julia Wilcox

AREAWIDE — Senator Art Linares (left) on Mar. 16 visited with CT Association of Nonprofits Senior Public Policy Specialist Julia Wilcox (right) and other advocates during “CT Nonprofits Week 2015” at the State Capitol.

Throughout the week, Linares and other state legislators met with nonprofit organizations from throughout Connecticut to raise public awareness of their services.

For more information, visit www.ctnonprofits.org and www.senatorlinares.com .

Linares represents the 33rd Connecticut Senatorial District comprising Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

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Former Governor Weicker Lauds President Obama’s New Openness to Cuba      

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Lowell Weicker, a former Governor and Senator of Connecticut, has expressed his support for the Obama’s administration new policy of normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. In taking this position, Weicker noted in an interview at his home in Old Lyme with ValleyNewsNow yesterday that current polls show that 60 percent of Americans support diplomatic recognition of Cuba.

In adopting a new U.S. relationship with Cuba, Weicker said, “Finally, we are catching up with the times.” He continued, “The U.S. embargo has lasted for 50 years, yet country after country has recognized Cuba with only the United States in not doing so.”  Weicker also expressed criticism of those who oppose the Obama Administration new policy of recognizing Cuba, such as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Positive Aspects of Today’s Cuba

According to Weicker, “The most positive aspects of the present Castro regime in Cuba are in the areas of health care and good public education. Ninety nine percent of Cubans have free health care and good public education, a complete turnaround from the days of Battista.” At the same time, Weicker faulted the present Cuban government, “for its lack of human rights and democratic elections.”

As for his personal relationship with Cuba, the former Connecticut Governor said, “My family owned a large business in Cuba, which was expropriated by the Castro government, after Battista fled the island. No one, especially myself, is going to extol Castro’s confiscation of private property.”

Weicker also noted his, “deep personal distaste for the dictatorship of Flugencio Battista, who preceded Fidel Castro. Early on,” he said, “most of the Cuban immigrants to the United States were allied with Battista. Indeed in my losing the 1988 Senate campaign, the Florida Cuban community poured late money into Senator Joe Lieberman’s campaign.”

Weicker’s Two Trips to Castro’s Cuba

File photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Weicker also stated, “When I was a U.S. Senator, I made two trips to Cuba in the early 1980s. The first was to organize a joint American-Cuban marine science mission. The second was to secure the release of six American women imprisoned in Cuba.” According to Weicker, he, “convinced Castro, personally, to release the women who were in jail on drug charges. Two of the six were from Connecticut.”

Weicker described how, while in Cuba, he and Castro went diving together and spent many hours discussing Cuban-American relations. When Castro inquired whether there was anything he could do for Weicker, the Senator jokingly responded by requesting the Major League Baseball franchise for Havana. Castro’s response was, ‘No, we keep that.’”

In Weicker’s account, “When I announced to the Senate that I was to go to Cuba to retrieve the six women, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina tried to block the trip.” Failing that endeavor, Helms asked Weicker, confidentially, if he could bring back some cigars for him.

Weicker also makes the point that the wrapper leaf for Cuban cigars are traditionally grown in Connecticut, so Connecticut would directly benefit from the lifting of U.S. restrictions on the importation of Cuban cigars.

In conclusion, Weicker said, “Cuban dictator Battista was bad news, and I agree that the Castro brothers have had their own failings.” However, Weicker does not want the U.S. to live in the past as regards Cuba. He states, “It is only a question of time … Cuba will become more and more democratic. It is a new world, and one that should see two old friends reconcile.”

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Carney Proposes Ban on Electronic Cigarette Use in Schools, on School Grounds

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

OLD SAYBROOK/WESTBROOK: State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) hopes to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds in his bill H.B. 5219. Current regulation is limited to the use of electronic cigarettes by anyone under the age of 18; this legislation, however, would seek to expand upon the current bans to include prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds entirely. Schools already ban tobacco-based products, so this would add e-cigarettes to that ban.

“It’s critical that our schools be free from negative influences. Countless studies show that electronic cigarette use among high school and even middle school aged kids is rapidly rising. Not to mention that many kids who would have never tried a traditional cigarette are experimenting with e-cigarettes – especially flavored ones,” Carney said. “The bad habits brought on by them lead to the increased potential for addiction to nicotine-based products in the future.”

A recent Yale study notes that one in four Connecticut high school students have tried an e-cigarette. In addition, 26 percent of students who had reported to have never tried one were interested in trying one in the future.

Carney adds, “The availability of electronic cigarettes and ease at which they can be purchased by minors is a bit unsettling to me. We are fortunate to live in an area where many schools have already taken this initiative – a statewide ban on them on school property will strengthen those initiatives while also ensuring other schools, who may not have banned them yet, will have a ban in place.”

Carney has also proposed other bills including several proposals to lower taxes and increase the overall quality of life for the residents of the 23rd District.

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SE CT Delegation Highlights Transport Investment Needs in I-95 Corridor

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Three freshman state lawmakers from Southeastern Connecticut joined Governor Malloy on Wednesday overlooking the Thames River to highlight the need for more investment in all modes of transportation along the I-95 corridor in the shoreline region.

“People in the southeast corridor of the state should have reliable and safe transportation systems.  The fact that the Governor chose to highlight I-95 in our area is important.  It is a major pathway for commerce in this region,” said Senator Paul Formica.

State Senator Formica (R) is the veteran lawmaker in the group of freshmen, recently resigning as the first selectman of East Lyme to serve as the 20th district’s state senator in Hartford.

“I have been working with the state department of Transportation for years as a first selectman to revamp exit 74 and to widen the Niantic River Bridge.  Today’s event is an extension of those conversations,” added Formica.

Newly elected State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) also reiterated the need to prioritize the upkeep of roads, bridges, rail and ports.

From left to right,  State Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney stand next to the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference with CTDOT.

From left to right, State Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney stand next to the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference with CTDOT.

“Improving our transportation infrastructure is very important to folks of Southeastern Connecticut. I applaud Governor Malloy for acknowledging that there needs to be upgrades made to I-95 at this end of the state. It’s a key area for commuters and tourists, so it’s crucial that traffic can move steadily and safely. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I will continue to be an advocate for government transparency and a proponent of public safety,” said Rep. Carney.

As one of the two youngest elected lawmakers in the country, Representative Aundre` Bumgardner brings a new perspective to the ongoing conversation of how to keep the state’s transportation infrastructure strong for future generations.

“Connecticut needs a comprehensive transportation plan that includes roads, bridges, rail, our ports and waterways and pedestrian-friendly ways to get around,” Rep. Bumgardner (R-41st) said. “I’m encouraged the Governor is making sure Southeastern Connecticut isn’t being left out but this is just the start.  The Governor and the legislature must ensure any funding put into transportation projects is used specifically for transportation and protected from being raided for other purposes.”

All agree protecting the Special Transportation Fund may require new language for a “lock box” on funds collected through the gas tax, department of motor vehicle fees, as well as commuter train and bus tickets.

The event was held at the State DEEP Boat Launch on the New London side of the Thames River, just below the Gold Star Bridge.   At 5,925 feet, the Gold Star is the longest bridge in Connecticut. The northbound bridge, which originally carried I-95 traffic in both directions, opened in 1943. A new bridge for southbound traffic opened in 1973.

Editor’s Note: State Senator Formica represents the 20th District towns of Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, New London, Montville, Bozrah and Salem. State Representative Carney represents the 23rd District towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. State Representative Bumgardner represents the 41st General Assembly District representing residents in Groton and New London

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Carney Assigned to Legislative Committees for 2015 Session

OLD SAYBROOK — State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) will serve on three committees during the 2015 legislative session.

Carney has been assigned to the legislature’s committees on Environment, Transportation as well as Higher Education and Employment Advancement. His two-year term began Jan. 7.

“Carney will make an excellent addition to these committees, I am confident that he will serve the House Republican caucus with distinction,” said state Rep. Themis Klarides, incoming House Republican Leader. “Committee members serve as our eyes and ears when it comes to developing important legislation.”

Carney commented, “I look forward to representing the 23rd District on committees of such great importance as Environment, Transportation and Higher Education and Employment Advancement. The 23rd District is like no other with its scenic beauty and I want to ensure that both residents and tourists are able to enjoy it for generations to come. Transportation is a priority to many folks across the district and I will work extremely hard to try and repair our broken infrastructure.”

He continued, “Finally, I believe it’s time for my generation to step up and start taking the lead towards restoring our prosperity in an area that has affected it, higher education. Working to ensure we have a diverse, skilled workforce, aligned with available jobs, is part of the bigger picture of boosting our economy and preventing the further exodus of our youth.”

The Environment Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Environmental Protection, including conservation, recreation, pollution control, fisheries and game, state parks and forests, water resources, and all matters relating to the Department of Agriculture, including farming, dairy products and domestic animals.

The Transportation Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Transportation, including highways and bridges, navigation, aeronautics, mass transit and railroads; and to the State Traffic Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to (A) the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Higher Education, and (B) 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 funded in whole or in part by the state.

“Committee rooms are where the laws of our state are outlined and where we can achieve the best for the people of the state of Connecticut,” Klarides said.

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Carney Sworn in, Prepares for First Term as State Representative

State Representative Devin Carney takes his place in the House on Opening Day of the new session.

State Representative Devin Carney takes his place in the House on Opening Day of the new session.

HARTFORD — State Representative Devin Carney (R-23) was sworn in today  as state representative for the 23rd General Assembly District covering Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

Carney was among 19 other Republican freshmen who vowed to serve their districts over a two-year term. Carney states he is committed to reducing the expense of government and making our state a better place to live and do business in.

“I am eager to step into my new role as the voice in Hartford for the people of the 23rd District. There is much work to be done in order to bolster our economy and make Connecticut a more affordable and desirable place to live in and do business. I will focus on stimulating job growth, preventing burdensome unfunded mandates on the towns of the 23rd, and improving our transportation infrastructure. We must create a state that folks, particularly our youth, want to move to because we have opportunity, and one in which our seniors can afford to retire,” said Rep. Carney.

For the 2015-2017 legislative session, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides appointed Carney to serve on the Environment Committee, Transportation Committee and Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Representative Devin Carney     (R-23rd)

Rep. Carney 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 2015 Session.

The Environment Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Environmental Protection, including conservation, recreation, pollution control, fisheries and game, state parks and forests, water resources, and all matters relating to the Department of Agriculture, including farming, dairy products and domestic animals.

The Transportation Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Transportation, including highways and bridges, navigation, aeronautics, mass transit and railroads; and to the State Traffic Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to (A) the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Higher Education, and (B) 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 funded in whole or in part by the state.

State Rep. Devin Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District, which comprises the towns of  Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and the southern portion of Westbrook.

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Miller Appointed House Chair of Planning & Development Committee

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller (File photo)

HARTFORD — State Representative Phil Miller (D-Essex/Chester/ Deep River/Haddam) has been chosen to serve as House Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Planning and Development Committee by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden).

Rep. Miller replaces Rep. Auden Grogins of Bridgeport, who was nominated to the State Superior Court, and is leaving the legislature.

The Planning and Development Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to local governments, housing, urban renewal, fire, sewer and metropolitan districts, home rule and planning and zoning; regional planning and development activities and the State Plan of Conservation and Development, and economic development programs impacting local governments.

“I am honored to have been appointed House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee by House Speaker Sharkey,” Rep. Miller said. “I look forward to serving on the Speaker’s leadership team as we develop an agenda that affects matters relating to local governments and our cities and towns.”

“The Planning & Development Committee plays a critical role as to the state’s relationship with its municipalities, and Rep. Miller not only brings his state legislative experience to his new role as chair, but his valuable experience as a former first selectman of his home town,” said Speaker Sharkey, a former chair of the Planning & Development Committee himself.

Rep. Miller was first elected in 2011 in a special election. He represents the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.

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Linares Denies Rumors of Challenge to Courtney in Next Election    

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

“I have heard the rumors,” State Representative Phil Miller told ValleyNewsNow.com in a recent interview regarding State Senator Art Linares considering a challenge to Congressman Joe Courtney in the 2016 elections. Miller noted that the 2014 elections were tough for Democrats, citing the loss of 14 State Representative seats in the statehouse. Miller also commented that he, himself, had an uphill battle to survive the Republican sweep.

Linares’ spokesman, Adam Liegeot, said, “No,” however, when asked if Linares might challenge Courtney in the next Congressional race.

Linares’ numbers in the last election were impressive. He beat his Democratic challenger, Emily Bjornberg, 22,335 to 17,046, out of a total 39,932 votes cast. The percentages were: 56 percent for Linares and 43 percent for Bjornberg. Most impressive about Republican Linares’ victory was that he won what was once considered a safe Democratic district.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

As for Courtney in the last election, he won his fifth term in office with landslide numbers against New London real estate agent Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh. Many considered the Congressman’s challenger weak, however, and state Republicans did not appear to mount a major effort to defeat Courtney.

The Republicans already control the House of Representatives, 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats. Some might argue that if Linares were to become a member of the House Majority, he would be in a better position to help his constituents than Minority member Courtney.

In the same interview, State Representative Phil Miller also commented on what he considered the negativity of candidate Bjornberg’s recent campaign against Linares. “People around here don’t like that,” Miller said. In contrast, however, it might be noted that the winning candidate for Governor, Dan Malloy, ran highly negative TV ads charging that his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, paid no taxes, and yet Malloy went on to win in what was, unquestionably, a tough year for the Democrats.

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Sen. Linares: “We can’t afford more rate hikes.”

Sen. Art Linares (R-Westbrook) today sent to state regulators a list of nearly 800 people who have signed his online petition at www.senatorlinares.com in opposition to Connecticut Light & Power’s proposed service rate hike.

On Wednesday (Dec. 17), the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is expected to finalize a $7.12 increase in the average monthly bill that Connecticut Light & Power sends out to its residential customers.  The $7.12 hike would come on top of a Jan. 1 increase of $18.48, on average, for CL&P residential customers.

“As state senator, I represent 100,000 people in a region that stretches along the Connecticut River Valley from Portland south to Old Saybrook and Lyme,” Sen. Linares said.  “Hundreds of Connecticut rate payers have signed this petition because they want state regulators to deny CL&P’s proposed service rate hike.  We can’t afford more rate hikes.”

Regardless of whether rates are hiked on Wednesday, Sen. Linares urged residents to continue to email state regulators at PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov if they wish to express their concerns about rising costs.

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