June 25, 2019

Carney Hosts Office Hours in Old Saybrook, 8-9am, June 24

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Reps. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Jesse MacLachlan (R-35th) along with State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) will hold Office Hours throughout the 23rd District on various dates between June 10 and 27.

These events will provide constituents with an opportunity to ask questions or share their ideas and concerns about state government, local issues and the 2019 legislative session which will come to a close on June 5.

The remaining Office Hours schedule is as follows:

Lyme
NOTE TIME CHANGE!
Tuesday, June 18, from 5 – 6 p.m.
State Rep. Carney
Lyme Public Library
Community Room
482 Hamburg Rd.

Old Saybrook
NOTE DATE CHANGE!
Monday, June 24, from 8 – 9 a.m.
State Rep. Carney
Vicky G. Duffy Pavilion
155 College St.

Westbrook
Thursday, June 27, from 6 – 7 p.m.
State Rep. Carney & State Rep. McLachlan
Westbrook Public Library
Community Room
61 Goodspeed Dr.

Anyone unable to attend, but who would like to speak to Rep. Carney may contact his office at 800-842-1423 or by email at: devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov.

Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District, which includes the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and a portion of Westbrook.

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Needleman Leads Senate Legislation to Hold Utility Companies Accountable, Improve Power Outage Response Time

State Senator Norm Needleman leads Senate passage of legislation Thursday on the Senate floor.

AREAWIDE — Yesterday, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) led the Senate’s passage of legislation designed to hold utility companies accountable and improve their responses to power outages. It spurs the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to establish a docket containing standards for acceptable performance from utility companies and standards for minimum staffing and equipment levels for electric distribution companies.

“In recent years, response times to repair our electrical systems after weather incidents have risen sharply,” said Sen. Needleman. “Families, residents and businesses all rely on consistent power to live their daily lives, and the longer these delays stretch, the worse they become. As a business owner, I know that for many people, every second of a power outage means lost money, and an unstable electrical system  We need to review and set new standards for utilities today so that tomorrow’s storms don’t leave as large of an impact. As the Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, I am proud to have guided this legislation to the Senate floor.”

Senate Bill No. 469, “An Act Requiring the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to Establish Performance Standards and Minimum Staffing and Equipment Levels for Electric Distribution Companies,” tasks the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority with establishing industry-specific standards for acceptable performance by electric utility companies in emergencies. This is designed to protect public health and safety and minimize the number of service outages and disruptions that could occur.

In setting those standards, PURA will study the adequacy of electric distribution companies’ infrastructure, utilities and equipment, current policies and procedures for coordination between stakeholders before emergencies, and staffing and equipment levels companies currently employ, including their minimum staffing levels.

This legislation is intended to address delays in service restoration after power outages and comes as Connecticut electricity customers face the most expensive costs in the continental United States. Earlier this year, Eversource received approval for a rate increase from PURA that will see customers’ electricity bills grow more than $20 annually. Based on that increase, the company would be expected to increase staffing, improve response times after inclement weather and bolster its current resources.

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Gov. Lamont, Local Legislators Visit Dominion to Commend Millstone Agreement to Keep Nuclear Facility Open for Another 10 Years

State Senator Norm Needleman (left) and Governor Ned Lamont tour the Millstone Power Station.

AREAWIDE – On Monday, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, joined Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and leaders from Dominion Energy to visit Waterford’s Millstone nuclear facility. While there, Sen. Needleman and others commended a March agreement between Dominion and state electric facilities to keep the nuclear energy facility open for another decade, as well as a regional cooperative agreement between Lamont and five other New England governors to evaluate further use of nuclear energy generation.

On March 15, Lamont and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes announced that Dominion Energy and Connecticut utility companies Eversource and United Illuminating would retain Millstone’s operations for at least the next ten years. Had the plant closed, the New England region could have seen up to a 25 percent increase in carbon emissions as well as the loss of 1,500 jobs, billions of dollars in power replacement costs and increased risk of rolling blackouts. Millstone’s energy output meets more than half of Connecticut’s electricity output needs.

“If we had lost Millstone, it would have done irreparable damage to the state’s power supply and the effects would have been felt not only across Connecticut but throughout New England,” said Sen. Needleman. “As a valuable, efficient and carbon free resource, Millstone’s continued operation will provide significant benefits for the health of Connecticut’s economy and environment. Due to the hard work of Governor Lamont, Lt. Governor Bysiewicz and Commissioner Dykes, among many others, I’m sure this will be just the first of many great achievements in state energy policy to come.”

“The premature loss of Millstone would have been awful for our state and region, spiking energy prices, reversing our progress on cutting carbon emissions, and endangering the reliability of the grid,” Governor Lamont said. “I want to thank the utilities for coming to the table to advance a better deal for Millstone’s power, cutting in half the incremental cost to Connecticut ratepayers of keeping the plant open for the next decade. I want to acknowledge all of the New England governors who have committed to working with us to look at ways we can value these types of facilities in the future. And I especially thank the women and men that make Millstone run safely and efficiently every day.”

“It is a great honor to work for a governor and a lieutenant governor whose leadership on climate and energy – in just the first 100 days – brings ambitious, bold policies that will have impacts for generations to come,” Department of Energy and Public Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Connecticut has a requirement for economy-wide greenhouse gas reductions of 45 percent below 2001 levels, and this administration is taking even more urgent action, with the goal of a carbon-free grid. Securing Millstone’s power for the next decade will protect grid reliability and climate progress as we work to develop new clean energy sources like solar, offshore wind, and energy efficiency.”

“On behalf of all my colleagues at Millstone Power Station, we thank Governor Lamont and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who allowed Millstone to compete successfully to provide affordable, carbon free electricity to power Connecticut for many years to come,” Thomas F. Farrell II, Chairman, President, and CEO, of Dominion Energy, said.

The contracts between Dominion and the utilities are under PURA review.

Captions for attached photos: State Senator Norm Needleman and Governor Ned Lamont tour the Millstone Power Station; Legislators and energy leaders pose after touring the Millstone Power Station.

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Legislators, Superintendents, Residents Express Universal Opposition to Forced School Regionalization

Special to ValleyNewsNow.com

Sitting in the front row of the audience at Monday night’s forum on school regionalization were local school superintendents (from right to left) Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) and Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook.)

Over 100 people turned out for an Education and Regionalization Forum at Old Saybrook Middle School on Thursday, April 11. The event was hosted by Rep. Devin Carney, (R-23rd), with Senators Paul Formica, (R-20th), and Norm Needleman, (D-33rd).

While the two parties differ on Connecticut road tolls, all three local officials said they are against forced regionalization of school district bills proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Senators Bob Duff and Cathy Osten, Deputy President Pro Tempore, and by Governor Ned Lamont.

Rep. Carney said there was an enormous public outcry by small towns and school districts, thousands of pieces of testimony received and hundreds of people, including students from Region 18 schools, who testified in March hearings.  While this probably means that the idea of aligning school districts with recently consolidated probate districts is not advancing, the matter of reducing and reallocating education costs is very much still alive, and pieces of proposed legislation could still become law.

“Nothing is truly ever dead until we gavel out at midnight on June 5,” Rep. Carney said, explaining the state legislative process and timelines of the ongoing session in Hartford. 

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) addresses the audience Monday night while (left) State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) awaits his turn to speak. Almost hidden from view, State Sen. Norm Needleman (D-33rd) stands to Rep. Carney’s right.

Of the six bills introduced that address regionalization of schools or services, three have been passed by the Education Committee and further action could be taken on them:

  • Governors Bill 874 establishes an appointed Commission on Shared School Services that is charged with developing shared school services recommendations, requires boards of education (BOEs) to report on currently shared school services and requires regional BOEs to post online monthly current and projected expenditures and to submit information to their town’s legislative body. The commission would issue a report in December 2020, recommendations could be binding on towns and districts. Because of costs of setting up a commission, the bill has been referred to Appropriations Committee;
  • HB 7350 requires regional education service centers (RESCs) to distribute an inventory of goods and services to member BOEs, and the Department of Education (DOE) shall develop a report of best practices by RESCs for regional cooperation. (LEARN, at 44 Hatchetts Hill Road in Old Lyme, is a RESC);
  • SB 1069, proposed by Sen. Needleman, which allows the DOE to study the effects of towns working together as Local Education Agencies, is intended to encourage voluntary regional cooperation and maximize efficiencies and cost savings without being mandated to become regional school districts.

Superintendents Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook), and Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) addressed how their districts have been sharing services and resources to reduce costs while maintaining the quality of curriculum along with educational, extracurricular and sports activities and programs.  Standard practices include health and dental insurance, energy, financial software, food service and supplies, plus student transportation for specialized programs.

Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Region 4 (Chester, Deep River and Essex plus the three elementary schools for each of those towns, which are not part of Region 4) school districts already share staff, Perruccio said, in an arrangement that has the flexibility to change yearly based on each districts’ demographic needs.

Perruccio said she was alarmed that the forced regionalization bills showed a lack of regard and understanding of how school districts are already sharing resources with a focus on quality of education.

Ciccone cited how the districts are coordinating to provide professional development for their teachers, and how Westbrook’s school facilities, sports programs and fields are utilized by the Town Parks and Recreation Department and local YMCA. The schools and town share legal and financial services support, as well. 

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser stands at the podium during Monday evening’s forum.

“There is a money issue here, we need to be frank about it,” said Neviaser, pointing out that significant redistribution of wealth from school districts with higher property values and tax base already occurs. 

Fifty-one percent of New London’s school budget is paid by the state, he said., as is over 60 percent of Norwich’s, 33 percent of Montville’s and 14 percent of East Lyme’s school budgets. Meanwhile, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools receive less than one percent of operating expenses from the state.

“There was no mention of improving educational outcomes in these regionalization proposals,” commented Tina Gilbert of Lyme. “It is because of our school district’s focus on that, we are in the top four in the country in education.  There is no discussion of parent involvement in schools; we are not wealthy or privileged people, we chose to live in this school district for our children.  What it takes to build [highly performing schools] is parent involvement, working with parents.”

When asked if they moved to their town because of the quality of the schools, a high number of people in the audience raised their hands.

While the majority of questions and comments addressed specifics of proposed legislation, the overarching issue of state fiscal problems and how to address government spending arose. Lyme and Old Lyme residents were some of the most vocal about the impact of proposed legislation on property values, taxes and the quality of local school districts.

“The majority of the state doesn’t have a problem, town government works in Connecticut, but Hartford is not responsible,” said Curt Deane of Lyme, pointing out a seven-page summary of education service-sharing produced by LEARN in February.  “The initial [regionalization] proposals would have raised my property taxes by 50 percent overnight. Taxes go up, property values go down. People have to understand, this is going to hit our property taxes and hit hard. This isn’t going to go away.” 

“We can’t be a state with only great little towns and not great cities,” Sen. Needleman said, citing imbalances of health care outcomes and school performance between wealthier communities and the state’s large cities. He continued, “While we don’t want to mess up what we have, we can’t turn our backs on the disparities.”

The legislators encouraged voters to speak up, write letters, follow grassroots organizations such as Hands Off Our Schools or form their own group to express concerns to elected officials.

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Legislators Host Informational Forum in Old Lyme on Tolls Tonight

Photo by Roman Logov on Unsplash

AREAWIDE — State Representatives Devin Carney (R-23rd), whose District includes Old Saybrook, and Mike France (R-42nd) along with State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th) invite the public to attend an informational forum on tolls Tuesday, April 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, 69 Lyme St.  The forum will be held in conjunction with State Senator Henri Martin (R-31), State Representative Laura Devlin (R-134), and House and Senate Ranking Members of the legislative Transportation Committee,

Investing in and improving Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is a priority among all lawmakers.

With the governor’s recent budget address including more than 50 tolls expected on all major highways across the state, this event will allow area residents to share their concerns, get their questions answered, and discuss potential alternatives.

For additional information or questions, contact Representatives Carney and France at (800) 842-1423, and Senator Formica at (800) 842-1421.

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Sen. Needleman, Rep. Carney and Mclachlan Host Community Conversation in Westbrook

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

AREAWIDE – State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) and State Representatives Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Jesse MacLachlan (R-) will hold a Community Conversation event with the public this evening,  Wednesday, April 3. The event is scheduled to be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Westbrook Town Hall’s Multimedia Room, located at 866 Boston Post Rd. in Westbrook.

Sen. Needleman’s 33rd District includes Lyme, and State Rep. Carney’s 23rd District includes Lyme and Old Lyme.

Sen. Needleman and Reps. MacLachlan and Carney will discuss the state budget with members of the public, among a number of other important legislative issues.

“Getting out into the community is so important, as I can hear from the public first-hand about what issues impact them the most,” said Sen. Needleman. “There are a number of significant topics this legislative session, including bills dealing with school regionalization, which deserve our attention. I’m looking forward to sitting with Representatives MacLachlan and Carney to hear directly from Westbrook.”

“The 2019 legislative session is well underway and many people have been asking about topics ranging from the budget, taxes, tolls and school regionalization,” said Rep. Carney. “I am grateful that residents continue to take advantage of these types of events, am looking forward to discussing these and many other issues with folks in Westbrook on April 3 alongside Senator Needleman and Representative MacLachlan. I encourage all residents to attend this event or to reach out to my office with any legislative concerns.”

“I look forward to hearing from residents about some of the hot button issues including tolls, the forced regionalization of schools and the several tax increase proposals,” said Rep. MacLachlan. “It’s important for residents to have the opportunity to share their thoughts about legislation that will have a significant impact on their daily lives.”

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Sen. Needleman Welcomes State Bonding for Old Saybrook Police Camera Reimbursements

OLD SAYBROOK — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) announced yesterday that the State Bond Commission is expected to approve a significant reimbursement to the Old Saybrook Police Department for its purchase and implementation of police body cameras and video storage devices today.

The State Bond Commission will issue a total of $2.63 million to seven municipalities’ police departments in return for their investments in body cameras and video storage devices. Of that bonding, $56,639 in reimbursements is allocated for the Old Saybrook Police Department.

“Our police departments are making steps toward transparency, allowing for a better relationship with the public, and it’s great to see Old Saybrook’s first responders will receive a reimbursement on their investment,” said Sen. Needleman.

“The State’s fiscal assistance with offsetting some of Old Saybrook’s body and cruiser camera costs is welcomed,” said Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, “especially during a time when communities both large and small seek to have their Law Enforcement Agencies utilize technology to both enhance their operations, add efficiencies, and build trust with the citizens they are sworn to protect through transparency and accountability.”

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Needleman Proposes New School Regionalization Plan

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — Yesterday State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) proposed a new plan for school regionalization. His proposal would create legislation tailored to help school districts and municipalities cooperate to share services and resources on their own terms, in contrast to recent legislation that would mandate school changes.

Needleman appeared with East Haddam Selectman Robert Smith, Chester First Selectman Laurent Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Essex Board of Education member Lon Seidman, Portland First Selectman Susan Bransfield and CABE Deputy Director and General Counsel Patrice McCarthy.

Watch this news clip from NBC to see a summary of what Needleman proposed.

The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Town of Lyme.

Today a public hearing will be held at 11 a.m. in Hartford on HB 7192, AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND EFFICIENCIES, a Governor’s Bill dealing generally with regionalization and shared services for local governments

Sections 7-10 of the bill are the same as Sections 1-4 of SB 874, the Governor’s Bill on school regionalization and shared services. If you have already submitted testimony to the Education Committee on school regionalization bills, this is an opportunity to comment before a different committee specifically on SB 874.

– Make sure to read the four sections of HB 7192 (again) and comment on them specifically (of course, you may also comment on any other sections you choose).

– Include only HB 7192 (same as first sections of SB 874) in your testimony, as this is the only language from the three school regionalization bills that is before Planning & Development.

Written testimony should be submitted by 9 a.m. to PDtestimony@cga.ct.gov

Sign-up to speak between 9 and 10 a.m. (lottery) in Room 1D.

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Sen. Needleman Joins Essex Town Planner in Support of GIS Expansion Bill

John P. Guszkowski, Essex Town Planner and Government Relations Officer for CCAPA, listens intently while Sen. Norm Needleman (D-33rd) testifies on the hearing related to streamlining GIS systems across the state. Photo submitted.

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) joined with John P. Guszkowski, Essex Town Planner and Government Relations Officer for the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (CCAPA), to advocate for legislation Sen. Needleman proposed on streamlining access to geographic information systems across the state. If enacted, the bill would create a more overarching system of access for towns and cities to access the technology and benefit from its use.

Senate Bill No. 550, “An Act Concerning Geographic Information Systems,” would make geographic information system tools and software available to municipalities at a low cost. It was heard Wednesday at public hearing in front of the Planning and Development Committee.

Geographic Information System tools, also known as “GIS,” are digital maps and layouts of geographic areas that can be used by municipalities for a number of purposes, most commonly surveying and land usage planning.

While Connecticut is a small state, current GIS practices indicate that every town in Connecticut has a separate contract, and contractor, for individual use. This process is inefficient, as each town must negotiate separate contracts, and leaves some aspects of the technology unused. Individuals looking to compare geography in two bordering towns have to open two separate services to access it, even if the land is separated by just the town border.

“This is the recipe for poor planning, wasted and duplicative efforts, and a lack of cohesiveness in inter-municipal development and conservation efforts,” said Guskowski in testimony during the public hearing, speaking on behalf of the CCAPA. “It is impossible, under this current system, to know authoritatively, how far along we are, as a state, toward our various conservation and open space preservation goals.”

“Having the state take a leadership role in unifying and coordinating these efforts … is a relatively low cost way to facilitate a major step forward for Connecticut,” Guszkowski continued.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) additionally supported Senate Bill No. 550 on Wednesday. “Given the current budget situation and the prospect of additional reductions in state aid,” CCM said in written testimony, “municipalities are already being forced to consider increases in local property taxes or reducing current services, it is important to make access to the GIS technology affordable to municipalities. Such systems provide opportunities to find efficiencies in information exchanges on land use and other issues between state, regional and local planners and decision makers.”

“We don’t need to have 169 solutions to one common problem,” added Sen. Needleman. “A state-wide GIS system would control costs, allowing the state to negotiate on behalf of towns, and create a more efficient platform, reducing more than a hundred points of access into just one. That would allow towns and cities across the state to work together and collaborate, using this collected information to improve their communities and our state as a whole. I am happy to see the committee consider this bill, and I look forward to working in coming months to make sure it passes.”

Editor’s Note: State Senator Norm Needleman was first elected in 2018 to represent the 33rd Senate District which consists of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and part of Old Saybrook. Needleman is also the first selectman of Essex, a role he has held for four terms, and the founder of Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company that employs over 250 people.

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Key Healthcare Bills Introduced by Needleman, Move Forward

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) has endorsed the advancement of two bills he introduced to the General Assembly this week. On Feb. 13, the Public Health Committee voted to draft two healthcare bills, Senate Bill No. 4, “An Act Concerning the Affordability and Accessibility of Prescription Drugs,” and Senate Bill No. 394, “An Act Concerning Quality Health Care for Women.”

“I’m encouraged to see these bills moving forward,” said Sen. Needleman. “Everyone deserves the same level of healthcare, no matter your gender, your race, your income. These bills help bring us closer to that reality.”

Senate Bill No. 4 is intended to make prescription medications more affordable for Connecticut consumers. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which focuses on fiscal and economic challenges in the United States, prescription drug spending has grown from $12 billion and 5 percent of total healthcare costs in 1980 to $330 billion and 10 percent of healthcare costs by 2016, and that amount is expected to nearly double in the next decade.

“The ever-rising increase in prescription drug costs hurts everyone, creating a financial drain that negatively impacts the young and old alike,” said Sen. Needleman. “We need to push for a solution to this problem, and this legislation will be the first step toward that. By making prescription medication more affordable for everyone, we can preserve not only our physical health, but our economic health as well.”

Senate Bill No. 394 is designed to give women additional protections against unfair health and wellness mandates. Harvard Medical School said in 2017 that many health and wellness mandates are still lacking for women compared to men, with examples including that 70 percent of chronic pain patients are women, yet 80 percent of pain studies are conducted on men, and that women are seven times more likely than men to be misdiagnosed and discharged in the event they have a heart attack.

“If we believe in fairness, we believe in equal treatment, and yet all too often women don’t receive the same treatment,” said Sen. Needleman. “With this legislation, we counteract these flaws and move closer toward the equality we deserve.”

Editor’s Note: State Senator Norm Needleman was first elected in 2018 to represent the 33rd Senate District, which consists of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and part of Old Saybrook. Needleman is also the First Selectman of Essex, a role he has held for four terms, and the founder of Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company that employs over 250 people.

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Needleman Announces Bill To Hold Utilities Accountable

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) announced that he has submitted a bill that would hold utility companies accountable to better serve their customers, requiring them to improve their response times after power outages and increase vital staffing.

“An Act Concerning Utility Response Times For Restoration of Electric Service and Utility Minimum Staffing Levels,” Senate Bill No. 469, would require companies to restore electric service on an improved schedule after power outages, also requiring them to establish minimum staffing levels for line crews.

“In the last several years, response times to perform repair work after storms and outages by utility companies like Eversource have grown precipitously, causing significant delays in restoring power to Connecticut residents and businesses relying on it,” Sen. Needleman said. “It’s no coincidence, I believe, this comes as Eversource continues to reduce its repair staff and equipment, instead increasingly relying on private contractors from outside of their system. Without adequate staff, in the event of severe weather, Eversource will waste time and inconvenience customers.”

The bill’s announcement comes as Eversource is requesting a rate increase from the Public Utilities Regulation Authority, according to the Hartford Courant, citing the increased costs of repairing systems after severe storms. If that rate increase passes, the average customer could see their bill jump $1.85 per month or more than $20 annually as soon as this year.

“Why should Eversource receive a rate increase for this work when it drags its heels doing it in the first place? Connecticut taxpayers and businesses were already inconvenienced when their power remained off for days during these storms, and they shouldn’t be punished twice,” Sen. Needleman said. “If Eversource had invested in effective weather responses in the past, instead of reducing staff and equipment to save money, they wouldn’t need to ask for $150 million in repairs.”

“Businesses lose money every second their power remains out,” Sen. Needleman said. “As a business owner myself, I know these problems first-hand. My manufacturing plant in Michigan has lost power one time in 14 years, while my manufacturing plant in Centerbrook sometimes loses power for no reason at all. Connecticut needs to attract businesses, and unstable electrical systems will only drive them away.”

According to the Energy Information Agency, Connecticut residents are already charged the third-highest rates for electricity in the country in both price and expenditure.

“Eversource should provide the services it already pledges to its customers, not be rewarded for failing to implement adequate weather-related response and repair strategies,” Sen. Needleman said. “When Connecticut taxpayers are already charged one of the highest prices in the country for electricity, they should feel confident their service will remain stable, not prepare for days of outages whenever severe storms rear their head. S.B. 469 will hold Eversource and other utility providers accountable for the services their customers deserve.”

Editor’s Note: State Senator Norm Needleman was first elected in 2018 to represent the 33rd Senate District which consists of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and part of Old Saybrook. Needleman is also the first selectman of Essex, a role he has held for four terms, and the founder of Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company that employs over 250 people.

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State Rep. Palm Plans to Host “Listening Sessions” Monthly

State Representative-Elect (D-36th) Christine Palm.

AREAWIDE — Christine Palm, State Representative-for the 36th District (covering the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam), took the Oath of Office Wed., Jan. 9, at the State Capitol. Palm is one of 151 members of the House (the lower chamber of the General Assembly), each of whom represents approximately 23,000 people.

Palm ran as a progressive Democrat who was cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party, and stood for economic security for all workers, affordable healthcare, school excellence, gun safety, enhanced women’s rights and environmental protections. 

Palm has now started meeting with constituents in various locations in her district. She intends to hold these “listening sessions” in coffee shops in each of the four towns in the 36th District during the month of January.

After that, she will hold at least one meeting per month, rotating times and locations throughout the district, including libraries, assisted living facilities and town halls. Residents of any town are always welcome to attend a meeting in another town.

For the month of January meetings are as follows:

Friday, Jan. 11: The Villager, Downtown Chester, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. https://www.thevillagerchester.com/

Tuesday, Jan. 15: The Nook, 1610 Saybrook Rd., Tylerville (Haddam), 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 22, Savour, Spencer’s Corners, Centerbrook (Essex), 10:00-11:00 a.m. http://www.thesavourcafe.com/

Wednesday, Jan. 23, Whistle Stop Café, Main Street, Deep River, noon to 1:00 p.m. https://www.facebook.com/whistlestopcafect/

“It’s very important to me to hear from the residents – both those who voted for me and those who did not,” Palm said. “Too many people feel government is out of touch with them – that it’s an inaccessible monolith.

She continued, “That’s not the kind of government I want to serve in and I intend to be as responsive as possible. Not only do our residents deserve a State Representative willing to hear their concerns, I need them, too; talking with folks is a great source of inspiration for me. Through casual conversations, I’ve already gotten some ideas for changes we need to make so that government better represents the people. So, I am grateful to all those willing to meet and share their ideas, concerns and experiences with me.”

Once Palm is sworn in, her official State of Connecticut email, phone number, website and Facebook page will go live and she will make them public. For now, residents of any of the towns she serves are welcome to call her on her cell phone at 860-836-2145.

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SE CT Legislators Including Sen.-Elect Needleman, Submit Bill To Allow Online, In-Person Betting at CT Casinos

Press Release) State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and members of the Southeastern Connecticut legislative delegation have submitted a bipartisan bill for the 2019 legislative session that would amend Connecticut’s existing state laws to allow for online and in-person sports betting at Connecticut casinos.

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman

The proposed law would include age and location verification requirements designed to block online access to persons under the age of 21 from betting on sports.

Since last May, when the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law banning sports wagering, eight states now offer legalized sports betting, including nearby Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. New York has passed enabling legislation but has not yet instituted sports betting, and several other U.S. states – including Connecticut – are now considering it.

Rhode Island – which just launched sports betting in November – estimates it will collect $11.5 million in new state revenue in its first seven months of operation.

“Connecticut needs to play catch-up with surrounding states if we’re serious about modernizing our existing gaming industry. Fortunately, we can do that with a relatively simple regulatory fix,” said Sen. Osten, who represents Ledyard and a portion of Montville, home to Connecticut’s two Native American tribes that already operate gaming casinos.

She continued, “The U.S. Supreme Court decision last year paved the way for the expansion of private-sector sports betting, and I think Connecticut is in a good position to take advantage of that. We have the infrastructure with the tribal casinos, we can use the new revenue, and we’ve got bipartisan support. This should be an early session success story.”

“Neighboring states are already ahead of Connecticut on sports betting, but I think it’s an issue we can quickly catch up on that will have positive employment, economic and revenue impacts on Connecticut, “ said Sen.-elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex). 

He noted, “Two of Connecticut’s top-10 largest employers will benefit from this bill. The U.S. Supreme Court has already cleared the way legally, so I believe it’s incumbent on us as state policymakers to do what’s necessary to remain relevant and profitable in a rapidly expanding new national industry.”

The bill, with the current working number of LCO 578, is co-sponsored by Sens. Osten, Steve Cassano, Paul Formica, Heather Somers, and Sen.-elect Needleman, and by state Reps. Ryan, Christine Conley, Emmett Riley, Joe de la Cruz, Susan Johnson, Doug Dubitsky, Mike France and Holly Cheeseman.

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Needleman Appointed to Leadership Roles on Two Key State Senate Committees

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex) today announced in a press release that he has been appointed Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, and Senate Vice Chair of the Banking Committee. 

“The towns in our district have gained a leadership presence in policy development for finance, technology, and energy infrastructure,” said Needleman. “My experience in government and business financial management, and my years of working with major utilities and energy providers directly applies to the work of both committees. I look forward to bringing common sense ideas to these important issues.”

The Energy and Technology Committee formulates policies relating to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, energy-related planning, and technology issues. The committee works closely with energy and technology services and utilities, which include electric utilities and cable TV service.

The Banking Committee develops policies relating to consumer credit and lending, business finance, the Department of Banking, all banks, credit unions, securities sales, fraternal benefit societies and secured and unsecured lending.

Needleman expects additional committee assignments to be announced in the near future. He officially begins his State Senate term on Jan. 9 of the coming year. 

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Letter to the Editor: Needleman’s 2019 Resolution is to be 33rd District’s ‘Common Sense Advocate’

To the Editor:

The holiday season is a time when we enjoy good cheer and look forward to the promise of a bright new year. It is a time when we resolve to do the things that didn’t get done in the old year, and fix the things that need fixing.  

For me, the coming year will be both demanding and promising. On January 9, I will be sworn in to represent the 33rd district in the State Senate, a responsibility that brings with it significant challenges and exciting new opportunities. That’s why my only resolution this year is to be the common sense advocate the towns in our district need and deserve. As your voice in the state senate, I will keep you posted on progress in addressing the issues that concern all of us.

Meanwhile, I hope we can all enjoy the festive spirit and good will that make the holiday season so enjoyable. I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year. 

Sincerely,

Norm Needleman,
Essex

Editor’s Note: The author is the State Senator Elect for the 33rd District.

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State Senator-Elect Needleman Hosts First Office Hours, Thursday in Colchester

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman

State Senator-elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex) is inviting the public to ask questions, share their concerns and meet their new state senator during his  first public office hours to be held Thursday, Dec. 6, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant at 375 South Main Street in Colchester.

For the past 30 years, Sen.-elect Needleman has been the owner and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a pharmaceutical business which employs more than 150 Connecticut residents.  Sen.-elect Needleman serves as a board member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and he is also currently serving his fourth term as the first selectman of Essex

Beginning Jan. 9, 2019, Sen.-elect Needleman will represent more than 100,000 Connecticut residents in the 33rd State Senate District, which includes the Town of Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Deep River, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

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Needleman Wins 33rd Senate District After Recount, This Time by 83 Votes

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE — Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman has been declared the winner of the 33rd State Senate District by 83 votes after a nail-biting recount involving all the towns in the district, which include Chester, Deep River, Essex, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

He was originally announced as the victor by 303 votes but a subsequent correction in Essex’s vote count reduced the margin of victory to a number that requires a recount by Connecticut law.

Asked his reaction to the recount result, Needleman responded, “I welcomed the recount, because it assured everyone that every vote cast was counted. I am grateful to the election workers throughout the district who worked so hard to make the recount fair and accurate. We can now move on to the task of being the credible advocate the towns in our district badly need in Hartford.”

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Democrat Challenger Palm Defeats Republican Incumbent Siegrist in 36th District

State Representative-Elect (D-36th) Christine Palm.

AREAWIDE — Democrat Christine Palm defeated one term-incumbent State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R) by 6,930 votes to 6,592 in the 36th House District.  The District includes the towns of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.

Asked her reaction the result, Palm told ValleyNewsNow.com, “There are those who will say that speaking in terms of “red” and “blue” is counterproductive. But there’s no question that Democrats and Republicans approach problem-solving differently.”

She continued, “My job now is to represent all four towns in a way that is authentic, respectful of differences, and driven by both passion and pragmatism. Enlightened public policy always takes into account the needs of all people — regardless of where they fall on the economic spectrum.”

Palm concluded, “And while I will never please everyone, I intend to be a pro-active leader for all the towns in our district.”

 

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Needleman Wins 33rd State Senate District by 303 Votes

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman

State Representative (R-34th) Melissa Ziobron.

AREAWIDE — Melissa Ziobron, Republican Candidate for the 33rd State Senate District and outgoing House Representative for the 34th District, called her opponent to concede the race just after noon today.

According to the Connecticut Secretary of State, Mr. Needleman leads by 303 votes, or 0.58 percent, which is just 0.08 percent over the 0.5 percent threshold that would trigger an automatic recount.
Rep. Ziobron stated “I am very proud of the race that I ran and grateful for the tremendous effort from my campaign staff and volunteers. We worked hard, earned every vote and did not give an inch of ground.”
Rep. Ziobron concluded: “I want to thank everyone who has supported me, both in this race and elsewhere, most especially my family.”
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Reflecting State Result, Deep River Splits Vote Almost Evenly Between Lamont, Stefanowski; Lamont Ahead by 101

DEEP RIVER — Note these are unofficial results.  We also hear unofficially that Question 2 has passed statewide.

GOVERNOR

Lamont/ Bysiewicz: 1,279

Stefanowski/ Markley: 1,178

Griebel/Frank: 125


US SENATE:

Murphy: 1,584

Corey: 942

Lion: 17

Russell: 14


US HOUSE:

Courtney: 1,662

Postemski: 829

Reale: 16

Bicking: 29


STATE SENATE:

Needleman: 1,525

Ziobron: 1,035


STATE HOUSE:

Palm: 1,377

Siegrist: 1,171


SECRETARY OF STATE:

Merrill: 1,475

Chapman: 993

Gwynn: 17

DeRosa: 29


TREASURER:

Wooden: 1,439

Gray: 1,021

Brohinsky: 27


CONTROLLER:

Lembo: 1,435

Miller: 1,063

Passarelli: 17

Heflin: 16


ATTORNEY GENERAL:

Tong: 1,351

Hatfield: 1,139

Goselin: 31

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Essex Results Give Big Wins to Local Democrats Needleman, Palm

ESSEX– Note these are unofficial results.  We also hear unofficially that Question 2 has passed statewide.

GOVERNOR

Lamont/ Bysiewicz: 2,147

Stefanowski/ Markley: 1,990

Griebel/Frank: 220


US SENATE:

Murphy: 2,562

Corey: 1,632

Lion: 24

Russell: 7


US HOUSE:

Courtney: 2,804

Postemski: 1,422

Riele: 28

Bicking: 38


STATE SENATE:

Needleman: 2,798

Ziobron: 1,543


STATE HOUSE:

Palm: 2,378

Siegrist: 1,926


SECRETARY OF STATE:

Merrill: 2,451

Chapman: 1,755

Gwynn: 29

DeRosa: 32


TREASURER:

Wooden: 2,372

Gray: 1,815

Brohinsky: 39


CONTROLLER:

Lembo: 2,374

Miller: 1,795

Passarelli: 31

Heflin: 36


ATTORNEY GENERAL:

Tong: 2,250

Hatfield: 1,972

Goselin: 50

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Murphy Easily Wins Re-election


U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy speaks to supporters Tuesday night. Photo by Douglas Healey for CTNewJunkie.

Editor’s Note: We are providing this link to an article by Jack Kramer published on CTNewsJunkie.com Nov. 6, which covers Senator Chris Murphy’s victory.  CTNewsJunkie.com is a fellow member of the Local Independent Online News (LION) publishers national organization and we are pleased occasionally to cross-publish our stories.

HARTFORD, CT — U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy easily won a second term Tuesday night defeating Republican challenger Matthew Corey.

Murphy was declared the winner shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Early results showed him with a 3-2 margin over Corey.

Read the full article at this link.

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Carney Claims Victory in 23rd House District

State Rep. Devin Carney

OLD SAYBROOK — On Facebook, State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) has posted news of his victory over Matt Pugliese by 7129-5690 votes.

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We Asked, They Answered: The Candidates Respond to Our Questions

In keeping with a long tradition and in the interests of increasing voter knowledge prior to next week’s critically important mid-term elections, we asked all the candidates, whose districts include some or all of the towns in our coverage area, to send us a brief biography and photo, and answer four questions that we posed to them. The questions came from you — our large and diverse community of readers. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of questions you sent to us, which we interpret as a clear sign of the level of interest in this election, and are extremely disappointed we could not include more of your questions.

We are pleased to report that five of the six candidates responded to our questionnaire and are delighted now to publish their responses.  We would like to express our sincere thanks to the candidates for taking the time to answer our questions and for adhering to our strict word deadlines — 100 words for the bio and 300 words for each response.

The questions were:

  1. What is the biggest problem facing the state, why is it the biggest problem, and what would you do to help solve it?
  2. What do you think of our leadership in Washington?
  3. What policies or infrastructure do you support at the state level for fostering or managing growth in you district?
  4. Why are you running for this position?

The candidates are:

House District #23 (includes Old Saybrook)

Devin Carney (R – Incumbent)

Matt Pugliese (D)

House District #36 (includes Chester, Deep River and Essex)

Bob Siegrist (R – Incumbent)

Christine Palm (D)

Senate District #33  (includes Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook)

Norm Needleman (D) Essex First Selectman

Melissa Ziobron (R) State Rep. House District #34

Click on the candidate’s name above to read their biography and responses to our questions.

For the record and again in keeping with a long tradition, we will not be making any candidate endorsements.

Happy reading … and voting!

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Send Us Your Questions for the Candidates, Deadline is Today!

We will shortly be sending questionnaires to the local candidates running for state office in the Nov. 6 election.  We plan to publish their responses on Thursday, Nov. 1.  We invite readers to submit possible questions for the candidates to editor@ValleyNewsNow.com by next Tuesday, Oct. 2.

The candidates to whom we will be e-mailing questionnaires are:

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 33
This District includes Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook.  There is no incumbent since the current state senator for the district, Art Linares, is not running again.

Candidates:
Norm Needleman – Democrat
Needleman is currently first selectman of Essex.

Melissa Ziobron – Republican
Ziobron is currently state representative for the 34th State Assembly District (Colchester, East Haddam, and East Hampton)

STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 36
This District includes Chester, Deep River and Essex.

Robert Siegrist – Republican (incumbent seeking his second term)

Christine Palm – Democrat

STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 23
This District includes Old Saybrook.

Candidates:
Devin Carney – Republican (incumbent seeking his third term)

Matt Pugliese – Democrat

We look forward to publishing reader’s Letters to the Editor.  We have a strict 350-word limit for these letters and will enforce a two-week break between letters submitted by the same author.

The final day that we will publish letters will be Sunday, Nov. 4: we will only publish new letters on Nov. 5 if they are in response to a letter published on Nov. 4.

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Letter to the Editor: Ziobron’s Record is Impressive, Deserving of Her Election to State Senate

To the Editor:

Melissa Ziobron has been serving as the State Representative for the 34th District for almost 6 years.  Her record is an impressive one.  Now we need her legislative experience in the State Senate.

Since her election in 2016 she has become the Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee, the highest committee position for a Republican member of the House.  She was instrumental in instituting a constitutional spending cap in last year’s bipartisan budget agreement, created a plan to fund the unfunded pensions of state employees, prioritized education funding for small towns, and developed state budgets that didn’t involve tax increases.

Serving on the Environmental Committee throughout her time in the legislature she is passionate about protecting our State Parks and Fisheries and was recognized for her leadership by the CT Land Conservation Council and was named a 2017 Legislative Champion by the CT League of Conservation Voters.

I urge you to go to her website, http://melissaziobron.com/ to read her full background and list of accomplishments. 

Please join me in supporting Melissa Ziobron for State Senate on November 6.

Sincerely,

Adrienne Forrest,
Essex.

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Op-Ed: Needleman Says His Experience, Attitude Are Needed in Hartford, Will Benefit 33rd District

This op-ed was submitted by Norm Needleman, the current first selectman of Essex, who is the Democratic candidate for 33rd District State Senator.

I’ve been First Selectman in Essex for seven years. In all of those years, I’ve delivered a balanced town budget. And in most of those years, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents on our Board of Finance and in our town meetings have unanimously approved the budget.  But as importantly, I am directly responsible for making sure every service funded in those budgets actually happens in the real world, even when state support evaporates. So, every day I directly confront the fallout from the financial crisis in Hartford…not in theory or from the sidelines…but as the core of my responsibility as First Selectman. 

That experience on the front lines of both financial management and service delivery in a small town has given me some insight and perspective on what the towns in our district need in their next state senator. In my view, there are three criteria: first, does the candidate have hands-on experience and real world success in making a small town function and prosper? Second, can you measure the results the candidate has actually delivered? And third, what motivates the candidate to run for the state senate?

I’d like to address those criteria about my own candidacy.

Experience and measurable achievements: If you choose me as your next state senator, I’ll go to Hartford as a leader who has created jobs (225) in his own business, and who has helped make his small town home to over 700 businesses. I’ll go to Hartford as a tax cutter, not a tax raiser…Essex property taxes have remained lower than 90% of the municipalities in our state. I’ll go to Hartford as someone who has streamlined town government to make it more efficient and more responsive.  I’ll go to Hartford as a financial manager who has created years of balanced budgets, and actually been responsible for making those budgets work in the real world. And last but not least, I’ll go to Hartford as a problem solver who has worked every day with Democrats, Republicans and Independents by creating an inclusive decision-making dialogue. 

My motivation for running: I’m not running as a stepping-stone to higher office. I’m not a politician, and I don’t need a job. I want to be your State Senator for two reasons: to help every town in our district get their fair share of support for education and infrastructure improvements; and to help make certain that every individual in every town has a fair and equitable chance to live a safe, healthy, and fulfilling life.

That’s the experience and the attitude I’ll bring to Hartford.

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Middlesex Coalition for Children Hosts Candidate Debate in Middletown, Oct. 11

AREAWIDE — The Middlesex Coalition for Children will host a 2018 Candidate Forum, Oct 11, from  9 to 10:30 a.m. at deKoven House in Middletown.Candidates running for office for State Senate and State Representative for
Middlesex County seats will be present.

In this panel discussion-style event, candidates will be asked questions about their views on issues that affect children and families in Middlesex County

All are welcome and admission is free.

Confirmed guests include:
Anthony Gennaro
Irene Haines
Madeline Leveille
Matt Lesser
Norman Needleman
John-Michael Parker
Matthew Pugliese
Quentin Phipps
Colin Souney
Linda Szynkowicz
Melissa Ziobron

Candidates are still in the process of confirming and this list will be modified as confirmations are received. Check the Facebook event page for the updates.

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NARAL Pro-Choice America Endorses Needleman For State Senate

Essex First Selectman and 33rd State Senate District candidate Norm Needleman.

AREAWIDE — NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the nation’s leading women’s health advocacy organizations, has announced its endorsement of Norm Needleman for the State Senate seat from the 33rd District in Connecticut.

The objective of NARAL Pro-Choice America candidate endorsements is to, “elect champions who don’t just pay lip service to values of reproductive freedom, but who truly fight for them…and help defeat those who want to roll back the clock on our rights.”

In accepting the endorsement, Needleman said: “We must continue our efforts to make certain that women have the right to choose how and when to raise a family, that paid family leave is assured, and that pregnancy discrimination is erased from the workplace. The endorsement by NARAL-Pro-Choice America is deeply gratifying. It strengthens my longstanding commitment to insure that basic reproductive rights are guaranteed to all women in or district, our state, and our nation.”

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

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business to become a leader in its field, employing over 225 people.

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Ziobron Endorsed Unanimously by Republicans as Candidate for 33rd State Senate District

AREAWIDE — State Representative Melissa Ziobron (R-34) was the unanimous choice for more than 40 Republican delegates at a nominating convention. Delegates from 12 towns gathered at East Haddam’s Old Town Hall on May 14 and enthusiastically endorsed Ziobron for the position.

Nominating Ziobron was current State Senator Art Linares, Jr. (R-33) of Westbrook.

“Melissa has been an incredibly effective representative, both in Hartford and in her district; I am honored to place her name into nomination,” said Linares.

Linda Grzeika of Colchester seconded Linares’s motion, stating that she resides in a part of Colchester not located in Ziobron’s district.

“I’m thrilled that she will finally represent all of Colchester as our state senator,” said Grzeika.

In her acceptance speech, Representative Ziobron promised that she would be a tireless campaigner.

“All of you are going to see a lot of me over the next seven months,” stated Ziobron. “I love the Connecticut River Valley and the shoreline and I can’t wait to be your voice in Hartford.”

Ziobron currently represents the towns of Colchester, East Haddam, and East Hampton. She is currently serving her third, two-year term in the State Legislature.

Linares was first elected in 2010; he is seeking the Republican nomination for state treasurer.

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

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‘Run for Something’ Endorses Matt Pugliese for Connecticut General Assembly

Matt Pugliese

Matt Pugliese has received the endorsement of Run for Something (RfS), the groundbreaking organization that recruits and supports strong voices in the next generation of progressive leadership.

“I am excited and honored to be endorsed by Run for Something. Hearing about the work that was being done by this organization to help encourage candidates to step forward was a motivating force in my own decision to run for office. I want to work to make a difference in our community.  This is a crucial moment in our state and our nation. I’m proud to be among the candidates stepping forward,” said Pugliese.

“RFS endorses candidates on two major criteria: heart and hustle. That’s what defines viability to us,” said Ross Morales Rocketto, RFS co founder. “These are candidates who are going to work hard to run grassroots, community-led campaigns. We are a critical time in history and the momentum these candidates generate will have a lasting impact for years to come.”

A selection of statistics from RfS are:

  • 40 first or second time candidates endorsed this month
  • RFS has endorsed 409 candidates total, from 45 states. 256 candidates have upcoming elections.
  • Campaign budgets range from $3000 to $300,000
  • Win numbers range from 645 to 100,000 votes

The endorsement process includes an extensive internal review with background check, staff interview and insight from local state experts.

Amanda Litman and Ross Morales Rocketto launched RfS on Jan. 20, 2017 with a premise to help young diverse progressives to run for down-ballot races in order to build a bench for the future. RfS aims to lower the barriers to entry for these candidates by helping them with seed money, organization building, and access to trainings needed to be successful. So far, about 18,000 young people from across the country have signed up as candidates and gained access to RfS resources.

Run for Something recruits and supports talented, young people who advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench.

Matt Pugliese is running for State Representative in the 23rd District.  Pugliese is a non-profit theatre arts administrator and Chair of the Old Saybrook Economic Development Commission.  He holds his Masters in Public Administration from UCONN and lives in Old Saybrook with his wife and their two daughters. Learn more at mattpugliesect.com and at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at mattpugliesect.

For more information, visit www.runforsomething.net

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Palm Unanimously Chosen as Democratic Candidate for 36th District

Democratic Town Committee chairs and delegates for Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam gather for a photo after unanimously endorsing Christine Palm (center, in marine blue) as their candidate for the 36th District.

CHESTER — Christine Palm has won the unanimous endorsement of delegates in the four towns comprising the 36th General Assembly District: Chester, Essex, Deep River and Haddam. The Democrat running for state representative accepted the nomination at her convention, held May 16 in the Brainerd Memorial Library, Haddam.

Palm has also received the endorsement of U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney, who represents the Second Congressional District.

“I’ve known Christine my whole life, and I can’t think of anyone better prepared to lead,” Courtney said. “I can’t say emphatically enough how excited I am about her candidacy and I really hope the citizens of those four great communities come out strongly and support her, because the minute she’s elected and sworn into office, she’ll become one of the leaders in the General Assembly, which is so important to our state, especially now.”

Palm, who is running on a platform that includes economic security for working families, healthcare for all, safeguards for older adults, and environmental protection, thanked the delegates for their unity.

“Democrats in our four beautiful towns have really pulled together this year and I’m grateful for their faith in me and their desire to see meaningful, lasting change at the Capitol,” Palm said, continuing, “These are perilous times for democracy, as policies out of Washington continue to erode families’ wellbeing, imperil the safety of our school children, and roll back environmental protections that have been in place for decades.”

Palm explained, “I’ll fight for policies that enhance the safety and security of all our citizens, not just those in the one percent of the income bracket. This is an enlightened region where people hold sensible economic policies and compassion for our less fortunate neighbors in equal regard, and they know these are not mutually exclusive ideals.”

Palm owns a small business — Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC, which gives trainings to the corporate, academic and non-profit workplace. She has 10 years’ experience in government as women’s policy analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors, and communications director for its predecessor agency, the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. She is a former newspaper reporter and high school teacher.

In the upcoming November election, Palm will challenge incumbent State Representative Bob Siegrist (R), who is running for a second term.

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Norm Needleman Wins Democratic Nomination for 33rd District Sate Senate Seat

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman.

AREAWIDE — Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman has been nominated as the Democratic Party State Senate candidate for the 33rd District. 

Delegates from Democratic Town Committees in the 12 towns comprising the 33rd District met on Monday, May 21, at the Gelston House in East Haddam to select a candidate. Needleman was nominated by acclimation on the first ballot. 

Needleman accepted the nomination, and defined his approach to addressing issues facing towns in the district: “We need a state senator who has the temperament, the credibility, and the experience to rise above partisan bickering and generate the ideas that solve problems. Over the years, I have fostered consensus-building that gets things get done in the real world. Job creation, balanced budgets, low taxes, treating people fairly and infrastructure improvements define my accomplishments as an elected official.”

He continued: “I’m not here to advance my political career, or to lay the groundwork for higher office. I can’t be bought by any organization or special interest. I will be a state senator driven by the desire to do the right thing for the people and towns in our district, and I will do the hard work necessary to address the deep and abiding problems in our state.”

In placing Needleman’s name for nomination, Michelle Gilman, a resident of Colchester, said: “I have learned a lot about Norm in the years we have collaborated on the issues facing our towns’ families. I know that he will be the advocate and partner we so badly need in the state senate. I know that he will fight for investments in education and investments in our communities. I know that he will make certain that the towns in our district get their fair share from Hartford. And just as important, I know he will lead across party lines to address the challenges facing our state.”

Needleman’s nomination was seconded by two prominent Democrats from the district: Emily Bjornberg, 2014 nominee for the 33rd State Senate Seat, and Stacia Libby, four-term Selectman in Essex.

commented, “When no one is watching, Norm is a quiet friend to myriad marginalized folks within his community. He quietly provides meals and housing. He quietly provides jobs and friendship. He quietly, yet unapologetically, fights for the humanity of his fellow man. He is a pillar of his community without being a boast and he is a successful driver of the local economy without being a brag.”

Libby, who has worked as an elected official alongside Needleman for eight years, noted, “What I have learned about Norm pales when compared to what I’ve learned from Norm. He taught me through his actions what it means to be a true leader. Norm is compassionate, intelligent and diplomatic. He listens. He considers all sides and viewpoints. Then he seeks solutions that are fair, balanced and in the best interest of our community.”

Needleman has 20 years of public service experience in Essex, including four terms as First Selectman. During his tenure as First Selectman, he led economic development initiatives that made Essex home to over 700 businesses. He balanced budgets and made infrastructure improvements while maintaining one of the lowest property tax rates in the state.

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing company employing 150 people, located in Essex. His two sons co-manage the company with him.  He lives in Essex with his partner, Jacqueline Hubbard, Executive Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse.

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

For further information, contact Campaign Manager Ed Tedeschi at et@edted.com or (917) 734-9460.

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Carney Receives Republican Nomination for Re-Election to the 23rd District

Celebrating Devin Carney’s unanimous endorsement as Republican candidate for the 23rd District are, from left to right, Cathy Carter, Dave Evers, Dan Montano, Carney, and Jackie Miano.

OLD SAYBROOK — State Representative Devin Carney received the unanimous endorsement of the Republican delegates representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and coastal Westbrook at the 23rd District convention on Wednesday, May 16. The convention was held at the Teresa Mulvey Municipal Building in Westbrook.

“It is truly an honor to be nominated for a third term by the Republicans of the 23rd District,” said Carney. “I have worked incredibly hard over the past four years as State Representative and always put the people of the district first. In these past two terms, I have advocated for small businesses and small towns, opposed massive tax increases, and worked across the aisle in order to achieve the best legislative results for the people of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. Connecticut still faces significant budgetary hurdles, so I plan on continuing to work to stabilize government finances while helping  to create an economic environment that provides opportunity for all.”

Carney was nominated by Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna.

“As First Selectman of Old Saybrook, I often interact with the state legislature on issues that affect small towns and I always know I can count on Devin,” Fortuna said. “In these past four years, Devin has always stood up for his municipalities by supporting local education, pushing back against unnecessary unfunded mandates, and opposing legislation that would negatively affect the quality of life in shoreline Connecticut.”

In only his second term, Carney was named the highest ranked House Republican of the Transportation Committee where he has advocated for roadway improvements, local public transportation, and highway safety. In addition, he used that role to campaign against the Federal Railroad Administration’s NEC Future plan bypass, which would have devastated Southeastern Connecticut.

“Serving in leadership on the Transportation Committee has given me the unique opportunity to fight for local transportation concerns, including Shore Line East and 9-Town Transit, and also to call attention to issues that affect the region such as I-95 safety and the FRA’s NEC Future proposal,” added Carney.

Carney also serves on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and the Environment Committee. Last year, Carney was recognized by the Connecticut Counseling Association with their “Legislative Service Award” for his work in support of licensed professional counselors and for supporting efforts to curb elder abuse and to combat the state’s opioid epidemic.

Carney also co-founded the legislature’s bipartisan Young Legislators Caucus and the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus. Carney is active in many community organizations including serving on the Board of Trustees at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, on the Board of Saye Brook Village senior housing, and as a member of both the Old Saybrook and Lyme-Old Lyme Chambers of Commerce.

“As the next phase of the election begins, I look forward to discussing my accomplishments and bringing my message of fiscal stability and economic growth to each and every doorstep in the 23rd District,” said Carney.

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Pugliese Accepts Democratic Nomination for 23rd District, Will Challenge Carney in November Election

Last Wednesday, delegates from the 23rd District unanimously nominated Matt Pugliese (fourth from right) as the Democratic candidate for the 23rd State House District. Photo by Janis Esty.

OLD SAYBROOK — On Wednesday, May 16, at a convention held in Old Saybrook at the Vicky Duffy Pavilion, Matt Pugliese accepted the Democratic nomination to represent the 23rd House District in the upcoming November election. The District includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and the southern portion of Westbrook.

Matt Pugliese

Pugliese, a non-profit arts executive, announced his candidacy in early March. He is challenging incumbent Devin Carney-R, who is running for a third term.

He was formally nominated by Karen Brodeur, a member of the Old Saybrook Board of Education.  In her remarks, Brodeur said, “Matt has experience as a business leader, as a community leader, as a civic volunteer, and as a caring husband and father. Matt is focused, disciplined, hard-worker.  He is an empathetic listener.  Matt cares about his family and he cares about his community.”

In accepting the nomination, Pugliese said, “I’m a Democrat. I’ve always believed that the Democratic party valued everyone, especially those didn’t have a voice. I will represent everyone in our community. I believe in communication, in compromise and consensus building. That is the style of leadership and the values I promise to bring to Hartford.”

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd)

Pugliese, the Executive Producer and Managing Director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre, serves as the Chair of Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission.  He holds his BA in Theatre and his Masters in Public Administration, both from UConn.

Pugliese’s formal nomination drew praise and remarks from others in attendance including Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal and Mary Stone from Lyme, who was herself a candidate for the 23rd District in 2014. The delegates in attendance unanimously voted to select Pugliese as the candidate.

Pugliese, who is participating in the public funding option in the Citizen’s Election Program, announced that he had raised the required funds to qualify.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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Tr-Town Forum Offers Democratic Candidates Opportunity to State Positions, Take Questions

Ned Lamont, a Democratic candidate for Connecticut Governor, addresses the audience at Monday evening’s forum in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.  All photos by M.J. Nosal.

Around 100 residents of Lyme, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook turned out at the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Monday night for a Democratic Candidate Forum arranged by the Democratic Town Committees of the three area municipalities.  Local residents heard from and were able to ask questions directly of: Ned Lamont, candidate for governor (pictured above);

Old Lyme Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder stands at the podium to introduce Denise Merrill.

Denise Merrill, incumbent candidate for secretary of the state;

Shawn Wooden is one of the candidates running for State Treasurer — State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) is another.

Shawn Wooden, candidate for state treasurer;

Matt Pugliese will challenge State Rep. Devin Carney (R- 23rd) in the November election.

Matthew Pugliese, candidate for state representative in the 23rd District, which includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook;

Martha Marx.

Martha Marx, candidate for state senator in the 20th District, and

Lyme Selectman John Kiker (left) listens to Essex First Selectman and candidate for State Senator (20th District) Norm Needleman speak.

Norm Needleman, candidate for state senator in the 33rd District.

The Tri-Town Democratic Town Committees’ event started at 6:30 p.m. and lasted two and a half hours.

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Needleman Announces Support For Initiatives To Promote Tourism

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, who is also a candidate for the 33rd District State Senate seat.

ESSEX — Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman and candidate for the State Senate for the 33rd District, today announced 3his support for new initiatives to promote tourism in Connecticut.

Needleman said: “The most recent data shows that tourism delivers $14.7 billion in annual revenue to the state, and supports 120,000 sector jobs. Every dollar invested in promoting tourism returns three dollars in revenue.

“That’s why I support the initiatives developed by The Connecticut Tourism Coalition. The proposed initiatives are common sense ideas that will enhance our tourism presence, which is key to building revenue:

  1. Create of a 15 member volunteer Tourism Advisory Committee, whose role will be to recommend strategies to the Office of Tourism for maximizing use of tourism funds.
  2. Appoint a Director of Tourism, a new position reporting directly to the governor
  3. Commit 3 percent of all taxable lodging revenue as a sustainable source of tourism funding
  4. Reopen visitor centers, using public or private funds

Needleman continued: “Connecticut is blessed with a wealth of historical, entertainment, lodging and recreation options. It makes sense for us to revitalize and sustain support for tourism. That investment will yield significant financial returns, and make our state more competitive with states that border us.”

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

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Bill to Study State Employee Compensation Moves to Senate

State Senator Art Linares

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares announced that the legislature’s Appropriations Committee has approved a bill he requested to study the long-term financial impact of state employees’ and elected officials’ pay and benefit compensation on the state. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

“Connecticut has been in a state of fiscal crisis for the last several years with budget deficit after budget deficit. This is despite the two largest tax increases in the state’s history,” Sen. Linares said. “We have to look at the state’s fixed costs and why they have gotten so far out of control.”

Sen. Linares said a review of state employee and elected officials compensation could examine ways to save money when the current state employee contract ends in 2027.

“I believe one area that should be considered is capping pension payout at $100,000 a year. The number of retirees receiving pension payments in excess of $100,000 has been growing at an unsustainable rate,” he said. “What do we tell the rank-and-file employees receiving smaller pensions when the pension fund is drained by retirees receiving six-figure payments? We have to make sure the pension plan stays solvent for all retirees.”

Currently, more than 1,400 retirees collect annual pensions in excess of $100,000, Sen. Linares said. The highest paid retiree received more than $300,000 a year.

“Retirement payouts like this were unheard of in the private sector even before most businesses moved away from pensions. Now employees and employers contribute to 401K-type plans,” he said. “We also have to remember that pensions are not the only form of retirement income state retirees receive. They contributed to and can collect Social Security.”

Sen. Linares said he also believes the lowering the expected return on investment in the fund from 8percent to 6 percent should be considered. The 10-year return for the 41 largest state pension funds was 6.59 percent.

“State employees, like their private sector counterparts, work hard to earn the paychecks they receive. We need to ensure that each of them receives the retirement funding they earn, by making sure the pension fund does not run dry due to the excessive pensions of a few,” he said. “I believe a comprehensive review of benefits that includes a $100,000 cap on pensions after 2027 will do that.”

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

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Rep. Carney, Sen. Formica Hold Legislative Update This Morning, All Welcome

State Rep. Devin Carney

State Senator Paul Formica

OLD SAYBROOK — State Representative Devin Carney and State Sen. Paul Formica will hold a Legislative Update at the Vicki Duffy Pavilion, 150 College Street, Old Saybrook on Thursday, April 5, from 8 to 9 a.m.  This event is being hosted by the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce and all Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce members are welcome to attend, as well as the general public.

Admission is free but registration at this link would be appreciated.

The event will be an informal discussion highlighting legislative issues and bills, and what Rep. Carney and Sen. Formica hope to achieve in Hartford. Time will be allotted for Q&A.

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Needleman Supports Legislation to End False Advertising by Limited Service Pregnancy Centers

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman and businessman Norm Needleman submitted testimony Monday, March 26, to the Public Health Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly in support of a bill to require limited service pregnancy centers to end deceptive advertising practices.

Needleman submitted testimony in support of Senate Bill 5416, An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices Of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers. In his testimony, Needleman stated his reason for supporting the bill: ”Every other business in our state and in our nation is held accountable for false advertising practices. Limited service pregnancy centers should not be exempt from the rule of law that requires all businesses to be truthful in advertising and promotion.”

His testimony identified the advertising practices the legislation seeks to end: “By law, women can seek and obtain the medical services they desire relative to their pregnancies. It is patently deceptive to use advertising to lure these women into centers that do not provide the services they are seeking. Limited service pregnancy centers should not be permitted to engage in these false and deceptive advertising practices.”

Needleman went on to point out that the legislation does not impact the operation of limited service pregnancy centers: “It is important to note that the legislation does not in any way impact the services these centers actually provide, nor does it in any way impede their operation. They are free to continue delivering services they believe are appropriate.”

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

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Carney (R) Seeks Third Term as State Representative, Democrat Pugliese Announces Challenge

State Rep. Devin Carney

UPDATED 3/7 10:09pm: OLD SAYBROOK: Devin Carney, a Republican who ran unopposed for a second term in 2016, has announced his intention to seek a third term as State Representative for the 23rd General AssemblyDistrict, which includes the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and coastal Westbrook. But this November, Carney will be challenged by Old Saybrook resident and Democrat Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a non-profit arts executive, notes in a press release that, “The frustration that our community feels is palpable.  The community wants change, wants new voices.  I’m running for state representative to help lead that change.   I’m a listener, and a leader who believes in building consensus, finding compromise and getting things done.”

Carney, who works as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Old Saybrook. explains his decision to seek a third term in a press release in this way, “Over these past two terms, I have always put the people of the 23rd District first.This community is everything to me. I was raised here and I understand the unique values and needs of my constituents. In these difficult and divisive times, it is important that the state has leaders with a proven track record of putting people over politics and who will work together to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order.”

Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a resident of Old Saybrook, has spent his career working in the non-profit theatre industry, beginning at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  He served as the Executive Director at Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theatre in Middletown, CT and now is the Executive Producer at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, based on UConn’s Storrs campus. Pugliese holds his BA in Theatre (’04) and his Masters in Public Administration (’17), both from UCONN. Pugliese said, “My work in the arts has been about activism.  It is about bringing together diverse audiences and creating opportunities for dialogue.  That is how we solve problems.  Every day running a theatre is about creative, problem solving and strategic thinking. The intersection of the arts and government – that is community.  That has been my professional career for 15 years.”

A lifelong resident of the district, Carney graduated from Old Saybrook Public Schools and currently lives in Old Lyme. He is the Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee, meaning he is the highest-ranked House Republican on the committee, and he serves on the Environment Committee and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. In addition, Carney chairs the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus, was the founding House Republican of the bipartisan Young Legislators Caucus, and serves on both the bipartisan Tourism Caucus and bipartisan Intellectual and Developmental Disability Caucus. He has also served as the Connecticut House Republican State Lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

Pugliese comments in the release, “Non-profit organizations need to run efficiently and effectively.  We know how to get the most out of every dollar.  My experiences in the non-profit sector in Middlesex County really opened my eyes to the incredible need we have in our community.  We have young people and families facing the most extreme and basic risks.  But we also have incredible resources in our community to draw upon.  That is what makes our district a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”

Over his first two terms, Rep. Carney says he advocated for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, seniors, tourism, small business, local public education, and improving I-95. In 2015, he voted against the second largest tax increase in Connecticut’s state history. In 2017, he voted against the SEBAC agreement, but supported the bipartisan budget compromise in October.

Pugliese’s community involvement includes Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission since 2015, of which he was recently elected Chairperson.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce for two years.  He served as the co-chair of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County Live Local Give Local 365 initiative when it was launched in 2011.  In 2012, Pugliese was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” for his professional work and civic involvement.

Carney’s community activities include serving on the Board of Trustees at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and the Board of Directors at Saye Brook Senior Housing. He is a member of both the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, a lector at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, and serves on both the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee as a member and the Old Saybrook Republican Town Committee as an honorary member.

Public education is a key issue for Pugliese. He comments in the release, “When I think of our communities, I think of our strong public education systems. I will fight for the funding we deserve from Hartford necessary to support our schools.  I believe we need to invest in our higher education system. We want to have a vibrant university system to educate our young people, ensure their access to this education, and keep them here as part of our workforce in Connecticut.”

Commenting on his achievements in the past four years, Carney says, “I have pushed back against drastic tax increases to residents, defeated a federal rail proposal that would have devastated the region, supported bipartisan initiatives to combat our opioid crisis, and fought Governor Malloy’s proposal to push teacher pension costs onto local school districts. I have always put the taxpayer first and engaged with the community.”

Pugliese is an advocate for paid family leave, ensuring rights for women and minorities and championing arts, culture and tourism.  He adds, “Part of the identity of our community is the incredible cultural resources we have in the 23rd district. These resources drive tourism, which is critical to the economy of the towns in our region.  We need to ensure the viability of our cultural assets, and the public infrastructure needed to support tourism.”

Carney highlights in his press release, “I have never missed a vote,” adding, “Connecticut is at a crossroads and our residents and businesses cannot afford the same tax-and-spend policies that have put the state into this mess. It is imperative Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook continue to have a strong voice at the table during this tough fiscal reality.”

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State Representative Bob Siegrist to Seek Re-Election

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

AREAWIDE — State Representative Bob Siegrist, III (R-36) announced today that he plans to seek re-election for a second term.  Siegrist states, “I am proud to have served the residents of the 36th House District these past two years as their State Representative.  I have listened to the people of the district and voted their concerns, their issues and most importantly, their pocketbook.”

He continues, “I have always considered this seat the people’s seat and I will continue to fight for children, families, senior citizens, and for a better business climate to create and retain jobs. I will fight for common sense budgeting and fiscal responsibility to keep more of your own money, and I will advocate for policies that will make Connecticut more affordable for the residents of the 36th.”

Siegrist concludes, “There is a lot more work that needs to be done and that is why I am announcing my plans to seek re-election as State Representative of the 36th House District seat.  With your help and support we can make Connecticut what it once was; the embodiment of the American Dream. A state with unending opportunities for everyone.”

Siegrist, a Republican, has represented the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam since 2017. He currently serves on the Public Safety and Security, Insurance and Real Estate, and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

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Republican Ziobron Joins Race for 33rd State Senate Seat

State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) who has announced her candidacy for the State Senate 33rd District seat.

Republican State Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-34th) has announced her candidacy for the 33rd State Senate District a day after Democratic Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (D) had announced his campaign for the same district. which includes the Town of Lyme.  This is Ziobron’s first run for a State Senate seat while Needleman ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for the 33rd District seat against then incumbent State Senator Republican Art Linares.

Linares is not seeking re-election in 2018 and has announced his candidacy for State Treasurer.

Ziobron is in her third term as State Representative for the 34th District comprising East Hampton, East Haddam and part of Colchester. Needleman is in his fourth as Essex First Selectman.

Ziobron explains in a letter to her supporters that her decision to run for the Senate seat represents, “a change in course,” so that she can rise to , “the greater challenge of serving as State Senator in the 33rdDistrict.” She notes, “This larger, 12-town district includes three towns I’ve been honored to represent — East Hampton, East Haddam and Colchester – and nine more in the Connecticut River Valley that I will be spending many hours meeting new friends and voters this spring.”

Ziobron says in her letter that the reason why she is running is simply, “Because I love the 34th State House District, and the CT River Valley Towns of the 33rd State Senate District, and our entire state – I want to see all of our friends and neighbors prosper.”  She mentions the challenges of the current budget situation and states, “It’s no secret we urgently need to address the state’s chronic over-spending!”

Laying out what she sees as the requirements of the incoming 33rd District State Senator, Ziobron writes, “We need a strong voice in the State Senate who: 1) is a proven fighter and has a reputation for putting their constituents first, fighting full-time for their small town communities, and 2) can immediately and effectively navigate the difficult legislative landscape, with the proven and dedicated commitment needed to focus on the budget, and 3) fights for fiscally conservative policies and has a record of implementing them, with bipartisan support, at the Capitol.”

Ziobron comments that she has, “thought a lot about one question,” which is, “How can I best help my state first survive over the near term, and then thrive over the long term?” She responds to her own question, “No matter which legislative chamber I serve, I will work to protect my district and offer the same high level of constituent service, and active community involvement – along with a laser-like focus on reducing wasteful and unneeded state spending,” concluding, “The bottom line: I can help more people in our state in service as your State Senator.”

Noting how well she knows the 33rd State Senate District, Ziobron describes it as, “an amazing treasure,” saying, “I’ve never imagined myself living anywhere else,” adding, “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to expand my many years of dedicated public service to this beautiful part of the state, I love.”

For more information on Ziobron, visit www.melissaziobron.com

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Democrats Sweep First Selectmen Positions Across Tri-Town Region, Republican Fortuna Keeps Top Job in Saybrook

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (File photo)

AREAWIDE — Perhaps reflecting the mood of the country in Tuesday’s elections, Democrats locally retained control of the majority of seats of government in the Tri-Town area.

Democrat incumbent Norm Needleman convincingly won a fourth term as First Selectman in Essex with an almost 2 to 1 majority of 1,509 votes over Republican challenger Vin Pacileo’s 772.  Needleman is joined again on the board of selectmen by fellow Democrat Stacia Libby (1,204 votes) and Republican Bruce Glowac (1,047 votes)

Needleman’s 737 majority over Pacileo was far higher than the 80-vote margin he achieved over Glowac in 2015, and also in 2011 when, in his first contested election, he defeated Bruce MacMillian by over 400 votes. Needleman was uncontested by town Republicans for a second term in 2013.

Glowac had previously served as first selectman from 1991-1995.

In Deep River, where all three board of selectmen candidates were unopposed, incumbent Democrat Angus L. McDonald, Jr. won 804 votes to be returned as first selectman. He is joined by fellow Democrat incumbent Duane Gates (D) with 601 votes and newcomer William L. Burdick (R), who polled 360 votes.

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek (File photo)

Chester saw another incumbent Democrat Lauren Gister re-elected to the position of first selectwoman with a strong showing of 797 votes, representing a more than 2 to 1 margin over Republican challenger Carolyn Linn (360 votes). Gister’s fellow incumbent Democrat Selectwoman Charlene Janecek, who polled only 32 votes less than Gister, also retains her seat on  the board.  The third member of the board will be Republican James Grzybowski, who defeated Linn by just three votes.

The only Republican success in the area was incumbent Carl Fortuna’s re-election in Old Saybrook with 1,911 votes over Democrat Stephen Sheehan, who polled 1,220 votes. Joining Fortuna on the board will be Republican Scott Giegerich  (1,688 votes) and Democrat Carol Conklin with 1,398 votes.

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Essex Library Hosts Essex First Selectman Candidate Forum Tomorrow

ESSEX — On Thursday, Nov. 2, the Essex Library will sponsor a forum to provide local citizens with an opportunity to hear from candidates vying against each other in this year’s election for First Selectman. Incumbent Norm Needleman and challenger Vin Pacileo will appear at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall auditorium.  Essex Library Director Richard Conroy will serve as moderator.

The format will be a free flowing discussion between the two based on questions submitted in advance by Essex residents.  Potential questions can be dropped off in person at the Library; sent via email to rconroy@essexlib.org; or by US mail to: Essex Library, 33 West Avenue, Essex, CT 06426.  Questions should be relevant to issues that pertain to Essex, and not reflect a bias toward either candidate.

In a new twist from the debates sponsored by the Library in the past, cards will also be available at the door that can be used by those who attend the forum to write questions for the candidates.  The final two questions asked will be selected from the pool of possibilities submitted in that manner.  Pre-registration is not necessary to attend, but call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 with any questions related to the forum.

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Siegrist Votes for Bipartisan Budget That Restores Education, Municipal Funding

State Rep. Robert Siegrist (R-36th)

AREAWIDE – State Representative Robert Siegrist (R – 36th) voted Thursday for a bipartisan budget that averts Gov. Malloy’s proposed education cuts to cities and towns, and installs structural municipal mandate reform.

Noting that this bipartisan state budget puts an end to a four-month standstill, Siegrist commented, “I have to admit that there are some aspects in this budget that I do not stand by, but all-in-all there are many aspects in this budget that I do support. This budget is a compromise to move Connecticut forward. This budget restores municipal aid and education funding to our towns and will avoid a tax increase that we inevitably would incur if the governor’s draconian cuts went into effect. I believe this budget will provide Connecticut with relief and it builds a strong foundation as we attain fiscal stability.”

Budget highlights include:

  • Enacts the constitutional spending cap that was first approved by voters in 1992
  • Imposes a $1.9 billion cap on borrowing, $500 million less than what was borrowed last year
  • Restores municipal and education funding cut by the Governor’s executive order
  • Protects core social services, such as day care funding and programs for developmentally disabled
  • Supports seniors by phasing in a tax exemption on social security and pensions
  • Imposes a state employee hiring freeze
  • Limits state union contracts to being no longer than 4 years
  • Provides municipal mandate relief by reducing construction costs, reforming the arbitration process, and providing greater transparency to boards of education budgets

The budget also excluded a variety of proposals discussed during the budget process, including:

  • Sales tax increase
  • Income tax increase
  • Tax on cell phones
  • Restaurant tax
  • Business tax increase
  • Shifting teachers pensions on to municipalities

The plan passed the Senate 33-3 Wednesday evening and by 126-23 in the House of Representatives on Thursday. The budget now awaits action from the governor.

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Shoreline Legislators Attend Bridge Dedication Ceremony

From left to right, back row: State Senator Art Linares; State Representative Jesse MacLachlan; Noel Bishop, First Selectman of Westbrook; James P. Redeker, Department of Transportation Commissioner, and State Representative Devin Carney; front row, Tom Callinan and Sid Holbrook met in Westbrook on Thursday, Oct. 5, to attend the bridge dedication ceremony.

WESTBROOK – Shoreline legislators, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner, local officials and residents all came together on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Clubhouse North Yard Pilot Point in Westbrook for a bridge dedication ceremony.

During the 2017 legislative session, Carney, MacLachlan and Linares presented proposals to officially name two bridges in Westbrook.

  • House Bill 5573An Act Naming A Bridge in Westbrook “The Singing Bridge” sought to give the bridge over the Patchogue River in Westbrook a permanent name. This historic landmark was constructed in 1925 and had no official name up until now. Due to the sound generated by motor vehicle tires passing over the grid deck, residents nicknamed the bridge “The Singing Bridge.”
  • House Bill 5679An Act Naming A Bridge In Westbrook The “John H. Wilson Bridge” sought to honor John H. Wilson, who passed away in 2015, and was the founder of the Westbrook Historical Society and a veteran of the Korean War.

Both proposals were heard at a public hearing on January 30, 2017 in the legislature’s Transportation Committee and later passed into law during the 2017 legislative session.

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Rep. Siegrist Pitches in to Clean Up Haddam Meadows State Park

Pictured at the Haddam Meadows State Park clean-up are, from left to right, Bob Moore, Jim Woodworth, Judy and Ed Munster, State Representative Bob Siegrist, Cheryl Czuba, Sharon Bailey, Mary Lou Heger, Amanda Yourse and Henry Graulty. Kraig Gray, Jamie Burgess and Gregory Krom (back row). Not pictured above Steve Carey.

HADDAM – State Representative Robert Siegrist (R-36) participated in the Connecticut River Conservancy’s 21st Annual Clean Up at the Haddam Meadows State Park Boat Launch with volunteers from Haddam to get rid of invasive plant species in the area.

For more information visit: https://www.ctriver.org/our-work/source-to-sea-cleanup/join-a-group/.

For a link to the video from this event visit: https://youtu.be/OeKCj68zG1A.

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

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State Orders Recount in Republican Primary for 33rd District Probate Judge; Delia Wins by Nine Votes in First Count

Tuesday’s unofficial winner, Anselmo Delia.

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Secretary of State has informed all the towns that comprise the 33rd District Probate Court that they need to conduct a recount of Tuesday’s Republican Primary. The Town of Essex has scheduled their recount on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. at the town hall. Deep River held their recount yesterday, Thursday, Sept. 13. We do not have details of the timing of recounts in other area towns at this time.

Tuesday’s race between the party-endorsed candidate Attorney Anselmo Delia of Clinton and challenger Attorney Kevin Hecht of Old Saybrook ended with a 859-850 win for Delia after all the unofficial results had been declared in the nine towns.

Unofficial results given on the Connecticut Secretary of State’s webpage for towns covered by ValleyNewsNow.com towns are as follows:

Chester: Hecht 23 – Delia 12
Deep River: Delia 24 – Hecht 14
Essex: Delia 79 – Hecht 59
Old Saybrook: Hecht 277 – Delia 46
Westbrook: Hecht 90 – Delia 41.

Results for the remaining towns in the District are:

Clinton: Delia 444 – Hecht 228
Haddam: Delia 140 – Hecht 37
Killingworth: Hecht 78 – Delia 53
Lyme: Hecht 44 – Delia 20.

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Essex Republicans Endorse Candidates for Municipal Election

Bruce Glowac (left) stands with Vin Pacileo after their endorsement by the Essex RTC as candidates for Essex Selectman and First Selectman respectively.

ESSEX — At their Tuesday, July 25, caucus Essex Republicans endorsed the following candidates for this fall’s municipal election:

  • First Selectman – Vincent Pacileo
  • Selectman – Bruce Glowac
  • Town Clerk – Joel Marzi
  • Town Treasurer – Bruce MacMillian
  • Tax Collector – Megan Haskins
  • Board of Finance – Keith Crehan
  • Board of Finance – Phil Beckman
  • Essex Board of Education – Judie McCann
  • Region 4 Board of Education – DG Fitton

“We have a very strong slate of experienced candidates,” said Bruce MacMillian, Chairman of the Essex Republican Town Committee. “Our goal is to make Essex thrive as a safe, business friendly, and educationally minded town. This slate will accomplish that goal.”

The Essex Republican Town Committee (ERTC) meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month in Room A at the Town Hall. All Republicans are welcome to attend.

The municipal election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.

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