CHESHIRE--In this year of the pandemic and virtual web meetings, especially on the local level, it has been a challenge for most 2020 candidates nationwide to get the much-needed face time with voters to present their case and get their vote.
Connecticut’s low level of COVID-19 cases has allowed many state candidates to do some door-knocking, including the five Democratic candidates on the Cheshire ballot in the 2020 state election. But a recent “Meet the Candidates Night” at Bartlem Park in Cheshire on Oct. 7, sponsored by the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee and organized by CDTC Campaign Committee Chairwoman Lynn Dawson, provided the rare opportunity to bring together all five candidates in one location to mingle and discuss politics with nearly 50 constituents.
Liz Linehan of Cheshire, seeking re-election as 103rd District State Representative, Jim Jinks of Cheshire, candidate for 90th District State Representative, E.J. Maher of Bethany, candidate for 89th District State Representative, Mary Abrams of Meriden, seeking re-election as 13th District State Senator, and Jack Perry of Southington, candidate for 16th District State Senate, all embraced the event, which also had a special guest in attendance – Connecticut Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz.
Everyone attending wore a mask and social distancing was observed.
“There is a divide out there and we need to end that divide,” said Perry, who has knocked on over 4,000 doors in his district. “The Meet the Candidates night was a great opportunity to talk to people face to face and energize voters. As a candidate you are always looking for great energy. There was great energy at this event and you feed off that energy. It was exciting to see a big crowd and talk to people.”
Like Perry, Maher has also been actively knocking on doors in his district towns of Cheshire, Bethany and Prospect.
“It’s always an advantage when you can talk to people in person and that made the Meet the Candidates Night a special, successful event,” Maher said. “Every time I talk to people, I listen to them. Everyone has their concerns and their own stories to tell. The key in Hartford is things get done when both sides talk to each other. When I am in Hartford, I will work with both sides of the aisle.”
State Senator Abrams has been doing many Zoom meetings and knocking on doors, but she was truly excited about Meet the Candidates Night.
“Meeting people at an event like this is nice,” Abrams said. “I am so proud of the people in Connecticut as a community with the way everyone worked so hard to lower the curve in our state to allow events like this to take place.
“When I knock on doors, I find people really want to talk and that’s great. I have been trying to connect with as many people as I can, and the Meet the Candidates event was a great way to do that. More important, it was great to see so many energetic people showing support for all the candidates.”
Bysiewicz was impressed with the turnout.
“This event is a fantastic opportunity for our Democratic candidates,” Bysiewicz said. “I met someone who recently moved here from New York and came to the event specifically to meet all the candidates. It’s the kind of informal setting that is the preferred format for people.
“Mary and Liz and all the candidates have this wonderful opportunity to mingle with people and listen to what they have to say.”
Jinks said his campaign is going well and was introduced to a lot of voters at the event.
“It was great to get a chance to meet voters and see the other candidates in a COVID-safe way,” Jinks said. “Our momentum is palpable. We’re getting support from men, women, working people and younger voters from all corners of the 90th District. I really like where we’re at and where we’re headed.”
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.