December 17, 2018

Christine Palm (D) Candidate for House District #36

Biography

Christine Palm

Christine Palm is principal of Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC, which gives anti-discrimination trainings for the corporate, academic and non-profit workplace. Palm served for many years as anti-harassment trainer for Connecticut’s Executive Branch agencies. She was women’s policy analyst for the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors and served as public information officer for the Office of State Treasurer.

She has been a newspaper reporter, high school teacher, marketer of non-profit and cultural institutions, and once owned a bowling alley. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for essay writing.

She and her husband have four sons and live in Chester.

Q1: What is the biggest problem facing the state, why is it the biggest problem, and what would you do to help solve it?

The biggest problem is the state of our economy, which began to tank years ago under previous administrations. Bad policies and irresponsible practices then have resulted in distress now.

The Connecticut I grew up in had a wonderfully diversified economy that stood on five strong “legs”: Manufacturing, Insurance, Defense, Retail/Commercial and Tourism. Many of the companies woven into this fabric were locally owned and run. We have become over-reliant on Fairfield Country hedge funds, have cut tourism spending, and have allowed our once-robust manufacturing sector to falter.

I’m in favor of investing in vocational and technical schools and apprenticeship programs which, when working together with corporations and businesses, will provide a pipeline to employment.

We need to invest in innovative start-ups. For this, I’d also like to see us reapportion the money currently being spent through the “First Five” program in two ways:

First, rather than give $322 million to 15 large companies (as we do now) let’s give smaller (but still critical) seed money to a wider swath of entrepreneurs, and small and mid-sized businesses. Imagine what 320 grants of $500,000 each could do! I would require that an affordable housing component be required, as well as retail activity. These are the two largest drivers of what makes cities and towns attractive to a young, educated workforce.

Secondly, I would use the other half (around $160 million) to defray college debt. With an average debt of $35,000, Connecticut’s young workforce has the third highest burden in the nation. If the State gave that $160 million to 320 companies to help pay off employees’ student loans, nearly 5,000 workers would have a large expense taken care of (and could therefore stay longer at the jobs), and the employer would not have to raise wages in order to compete.

Q2: What do you think of our leadership in Washington?

If by “leadership” we are talking about the president, I believe he is, without a doubt, the worst thing that has happened to our country in generations. He has debased the free press, incited riots and hatred, defended Neo-Nazis, imposed business-busting tariffs, committed sexual assault (and bragged about it), decimated the E.P.A., violated human rights on every front, and is poised to squander the surplus and strong economy he inherited when taking office. What should be of grave concern to our local residents, too, is the fact that his so-called tax cuts will actually add to the burden of middle-class and working families in Connecticut.

If, however, we are talking about our U.S. Congressional delegation, they are a very different story. Rep. Joe Courtney is a personal, lifelong friend and I know first-hand of his integrity and brains. From my work at the Capitol, I have partnered with Sen. Chris Murphy on such important issues as domestic violence reduction and gun safety. They and their Democratic colleagues represent our interests in a moral, effective way.

Q3: What policies or infrastructure do you support at the state level for fostering or managing growth in your district?

Our district is blessed with natural beauty, cultural attractions and vibrant small manufacturers and businesses. We need to invest and protect the interests of all, as we seek ways to attract more business, including retail, to our towns, especially Haddam.

From knocking on people’s doors this summer and fall, I heard over and over again of the need to make the town more vibrant by increasing the tax base, so that middle class families will not continue to bear the brunt of our unequal taxation system.

In addition, we must protect our schools by guaranteeing our fair share of Educational Cost Sharing dollars.

Q4: Why are you running for this position?

From my 10 years in government service as a non-partisan employee of the General Assembly, I saw too many good bills fail because of partisan bickering and the lack of political backbone. I believe we need bold leadership, and to have the chance to represent four river towns is a privilege I take very seriously.

One of my political heroes was Wilbur Cross, who was Connecticut’s governor during the Great Depression. Among his signature achievements were measures related to the abolition of child labor, improved factory safety and the creation of a minimum wage. I think of him when I get discouraged about political inaction and timidity.

Here is a guy who at the height of the worst crisis in memory, inspired people with his optimism: in his famous Thanksgiving address of 1936, he talked about “blessings that have been our common lot and have placed our beloved State with the favored regions of earth.”

But he also spoke of the need for “steadfast courage and zeal in the long, long search after truth.”

I can’t pretend to have Wilbur Cross’ courage or his wisdom. But in seeking to represent Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam at the Capitol, I promise to strive toward them.

Share