In an effort to give Cheshire area voters an opportunity to connect with Democrat candidates, to truly get to the heart and soul of what our local candidates are all about, the communications committee of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee has developed the CDTC Survey Series. This is the first of a two-part series involving the early part of the election cycle. Part two will be a survey submitted the week before Election Day for candidates to summarize their 2016 campaign experience.
The same four survey questions have been submitted to all Cheshire area candidates. In their own words, through this survey the candidates give voters their personal insight to why they are running for office, what they believe the most pressing issues are for their district and the state, what their goals are if elected and why you the voter should cast your vote for them.
Below are responses from state Senator Dante Bartolomeo of the 13th State Senatorial District that covers Cheshire, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown and Rockfall. Sen. Bartolomeo has been a champion of children and education issues.
Compiled by Dan Nowak, Chairman CDTC Communications/ITT Committee
Dante, what is there about the office that inspired you to run again for state senator this election cycle? – I find it incredibly rewarding when I am able to help the constituents of my district with their individual issues of concern, as well as creating and changing statewide policy regarding the issues that matter most to the hardworking families and children of our state.
You certainly have been a champion of education issues, but what do you believe are the most pressing issues in your district this cycle? – While I believe that student performance and teacher accountability must be held to a high standard, I also believe we need less reliance on standardized tests as tools by which student and teacher performance are judged. In my experience with special education students, these types of tests have limited value and alternative methods of assessing individual learning, progress and performance should be given more weight. Although not a topic of the Education Committee, I am also committed to continuing to move the Children’s Behavioral Health Plan forward as it was intended to be a 5-year plan which has progressed more slowly than planned due to budget constraints. Additionally, I am committed to advocating for state investment in our public institutions of higher education. I wholeheartedly believe that our economic development depends upon a highly skilled work force to fill the high-tech jobs of today and the future, and with approximately ninety percent of our state university and community college students residing in CT post-graduation, they are critical members of our future workforce.
If elected, what are your goals for your next term in Hartford? – In addition to that which I stated above, I would like to continue to work on policies which support foster children and families, which help senior citizens stay in their own homes and live as independently as they wish, and which address the unique needs and hardships experienced by our veterans. I am also committed to helping create job opportunities for Connecticut residents and work with my district’s businesses by addressing issues that they believe limit their potential and growth.
Why should voters vote for Dante Bartolomeo on Election Day, what do you bring to the table that your opponent does not? – Connecticut has a lot of tough choices to make in the coming session, and I am someone who is going to stand up for the needs of my constituents. I have worked across the aisle to get unanimous support in the Senate for policies to help families, veterans, and seniors succeed in our state. I know what it takes to get things done in the Senate, and my strong relationships have been beneficial in bringing funding back to the district.
By: JACQUELINE RABE THOMAS | June 29, 2016
Two Senate leaders wrote UConn President Susan Herbst Wednesday to object to hefty pay increases she awarded four of her top staff and to "call for more oversight over the compensation practices at UConn."
But the chairman of the school's governing board vigorously defended the increases and rejected calls to rescind them.
"We also believe that we may need to end your practice of offering significant performance-based incentive bonus payments to senior employees," Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney and Sen. Danté Bartolomeo, the co-chair of the legislative committee that oversees higher education, wrote Herbst.
Looney, D-New Haven, and Bartolomeo, D-Meriden, are working with leaders of the state House of Representatives to organize a legislative investigation and possibly a hearing at the state Capitol complex.
The Connecticut Mirror reported last week that Herbst was sticking to promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to award multiple-year pay increases to the university's general counsel, chief architect and Herbst's chief of staff and deputy chief of staff.
Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney of New Haven
All received pay increases in the 2015-16 fiscal year, even though few other non-union managers did – at UConn or elsewhere in state government.
The school's top lawyer received a $55,000 increase over two fiscal years, Herbst's chief of staff received a $50,000 increase over three fiscal years, and her chief architect received a $45,000 increase over two fiscal years. The general counsel and chief of staff also received bonuses of $25,000 to $30,000 each year.
The legislators' five-page letter was sent to Herbst shortly after the UConn Board of Trustees met to adopt a largely flat $1.3 billion budget for 2015-16 and requested an additional $107 million in funding from the state the following year.
After that meeting UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence McHugh defended the pay increases to reporters and said they would not be rescinded and any previously approved increases would go forward.
That includes the $13,000 increase scheduled for the school's chief architect on Jan. 1, 2017 – which means her salary will have gone from $225,000 to $283,000 over three years.
Herbst's contact provides for a $40,000 "annual performance award" on top of a $125,000 retention bonus that she received this year for staying at UConn for five years. Her contract states that Herbst is entitled to the performance award "unless the Board determines that Herbst, without good cause, has failed to meet the goals and objectives for the year." Herbst is slated to receive the performance bonus this summer.
"It's not that Susan Herbst is being overpaid, Susan Herbst has done an outstanding job at the University of Connecticut," said McHugh. "Our situation is to make sure that we keep Susan at this university and to work all we can to do that."
Whether the increases for the four staff can legally be rescinded comes down to whether letters Herbst wrote in 2013 and 2014 informing them of the increases are contracts, and therefore binding.
"I believe that a contract is a contract, and people should abide by contracts," McHugh told reporters. "I realize the economics in the state of Connecticut , and how it is probably as much as anybody else in the state. I represent the largest chamber in the state of Connecticut. So I undertand where the business [community] is coming from. But I also understand, as I did back in 2013 and 2014, that when you have quality people, you have got to make sure that you keep quality people here, and that’s what we are trying to do."
June 30, 2016 09:22PM
By Mike Savino Record-Journal staff
State and local officials say that a new law limiting the length of opioid prescriptions and expanding access to overdose medication is a substantial first step in addressing Connecticut’s rapidly increasing addiction problem.
The law, which takes effect today, limits the length of opioid prescriptions in most cases to just seven days, a recommendation that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made this past March.
It also requires medical first responders to carry an opioid overdose antagonist, such as naloxone, and shields trained professionals from liability when they administer an antagonist to someone they believe is overdosing.
City Councilor David Lowell, executive vice president of Hunter’s Ambulance in Meriden, said the measures should go a long way toward addressing the role prescription opioids have in driving the rise in addiction.
“Controlling distribution and quantity is critical, and this legislation takes a great step in that direction,” he said during a press conference at Meriden police headquarters Thursday morning.
The press conference was held a week after 17 people overdosed on fentanyl —a synthetic opioid — in New Haven. Three of the overdose victims died. On Monday and Tuesday, Meriden first responders treated six overdose victims, according to a statement released by the office of Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, D-Meriden.
Bill would remove toxic chemicals from children’s products
Committee on Children Co-Chair state Senator Danté Bartolomeo (D-Meriden) spoke today in support of a bill that would ban the sale of children’s products and household furniture items containing certain toxic, flame retardant chemicals.
Sen. Bartolomeo was joined by parents, children, a former firefighter and environmental advocates who voiced their support for House Bill 5299, “An Act Concerning Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals in Children’s Products and Upholstered Residential Furniture.”
Starting July 1, 2018, the bill would prohibit anyone from manufacturing (for use in Connecticut) a children’s product or upholstered residential furniture with more than .01 percent (by weight) of certain flame retardant chemicals. Beginning July 1, 2019, the bill would prohibit anyone from selling such children’s products or furniture in Connecticut.
The bill has already received unanimous and bipartisan support from the Committee and is now awaiting action in the House of Representatives.
“Science is on our side, and public opinion is on our side—children, parents, firefighters, retired senior citizens, scientists and environmentalists. This measure passed our committee on a unanimous and bipartisan basis. The only faction that opposes it are the chemical companies that have other, better options available to them but who simply do not have the desire to change the way they do business,” said Sen. Bartolomeo, who is a longtime advocate of removing harmful and cancer-causing chemicals from children’s clothing and other household goods. “With this bill, the Children’s Committee and this legislature are poised to make Connecticut one of the first states in the nation to put the health and safety of our children and our residents first.”
“As a former legislator and firefighter, I fully appreciate the initial intent of lawmakers to protect people from fire,” said Dennis Ozment, former Minnesota state representative. “However, we must take into account the risks and benefits of certain classes of flame retardants. Flame retardants are producing twice the smoke and seven times the carbon monoxide of non-treated furniture. This toxic soup is what makes it harder for people to escape burning buildings, and more dangerous for everyone who breathes in these fumes.”
“State legislators from across the country are taking steps to protect children and families from exposure to toxic chemicals, including those added to consumer products as flame retardants,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. These states, from North Carolina to Alaska to Connecticut, are working on this issue because they feel they cannot wait for the federal government to take action.”
Currently, 13 states are actively considering bans on flame retardants
About Senator Danté Bartolomeo
Danté Bartolomeo was elected in November 2012 to serve the 13th State Senatorial District communities of Meriden, Cheshire, Middlefield, Middletown and Rockfall.
Danté is Senate Co-Chair of both the legislature’s Committee on Children and the Housing Committee, and is a member of the Education and Internship committees.
One of the signature accomplishments of Senator Bartolomeo’s first session in the General Assembly was her authorship and the unanimous, bipartisan passage of a new state law (Public Act 13-178) that seeks to reduce mental, emotional and behavioral health issues in children through early identification and intervention, better communication and consistency between home visitation programs, and other new initiatives.
Danté served on the Meriden City Council from July 2008 until December 2012, rising to the position of Deputy Majority Leader. She also served as chair of the Public Works and Parks & Recreation Committee, vice-chair of the Finance Committee, and Council Liaison to the Board of Education.
Prior to serving on the City Council, Danté was a dedicated community advocate who devoted herself to Meriden’s citizens. Between 2005 and 2008, Danté was a member of the Board of Directors of Meriden’s Children First Initiative, an organization committed to supporting children under age eight. She also served as community organizer for healthcare4every1, an advocacy campaign organized by the Universal Healthcare Foundation of Connecticut to provide access to quality, affordable health care.
Danté is a member of the Meriden-Wallingford NAACP and was a two-year co-president of Nathan Hale Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization. She also served as a member of the Meriden Board of Education’s Full-Day Kindergarten Committee from 2005 to 2007. That committee allowed Meriden to expand the program from just four classrooms to citywide as of January 2013, including three bilingual classes.
Danté graduated from Mercy High School in Middletown in 1987 and cum laude from Colby College in 1991 with a B.A. in psychology. During her time in college, she served as vice president of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for Psychology. She was employed in sales and marketing for the hotel industry from 1991-1996, and was a part-time consultant from 1998-2000.
Danté has been married for many years to her husband Doug, who is a Youth Detective with the Berlin Police Department. Together they have two sons, Riley and Cameron.