I have known Vickie Nardello, Democratic candidate for the 16th District State Senate, for almost 10 years and one of the most consistent attributes she has as a politician and candidate is her desire to listen to constituents and members of the community in her district.
Whether it's knocking on countless doors or interacting with people at a public function, Nardello's focus is understanding the concerns of people in the community, asking constituents what concerns them the most and responding with honest, realistic answers.
Transparency is another attribute. Nardello is one of the few candidates to produce a comprehensive breakdown of her platform. Below she discusses her take on 12 issues that are important to her and the thousands of constituents she has connected with the past two months.
The 16th District State Senate consists of Southington, Prospect, Wolcott, and portions of Waterbury and Cheshire.
VICKIE NARDELLO'S PLATFORM
I favor a comprehensive approach to funding economic development instead of Connecticut picking winners and losers, as has been done in the past. This approach must include both corporate accountability and transparency. Specific goals must be delineated by those wishing to receive money from the State. We need to know which programs work and which fall short.
Reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens on small business, providing one stop service to guide new businesses through the startup process, reducing health care and utility costs, providing technical support and access to low cost loans are critical to supporting small business. Promoting centers of excellence such as advanced manufacturing, bioscience and financial service hubs will attract companies to Connecticut. We need to invest in our cities to attract young professionals to Connecticut so that companies will locate here. We should avoid programs like First Five that focus on rewarding companies for not leaving and pay little attention to businesses who have been in state long term.
A strong public education system, from preschool through higher education to develop and maintain skills, is important for every Connecticut child and the State’s future. Education policy should be developed with input from key interest groups including teachers, families, administrators and policy makers. Broad input promotes buy in by the affected groups and avoids mistakes and ensures preparation critical to successful implementation. Other considerations that promote a strong educational system are programs that address child poverty, investment in education that reduces long term costs, funding teacher preparation and professional development, and including teachers in test preparation and evaluation tools. At a minimum, community college preparation is necessary to obtain a well-paying job. Community college tuition should be kept affordable.
I strongly support a women’s right to choose, pay equity, funding for Planned Parenthood and paid family leave. Women are in the workforce in great numbers. The state should support women by providing the opportunity for affordable childcare.
Health care is essential. It should be affordable for all, including those who suffer from pre-existing conditions. Our Legislature needs to monitor health insurance increases and demand justification for any requested increases. I support measures to lower prescription drug costs and as a State Representative supported Conn Pace and the Medicare Savings program the reduced drug costs for seniors. Possible changes at the federal level regarding pre-existing conditions and essential benefits will make it more important that states step in to protect the right to affordable health care.
As a public health professional, I am aware that gun deaths are a public health issue and public health measures are necessary to reduce the number of gun deaths. Training, background checks and banning assault rifles have the potential to save lives. Owning a gun should come with responsibilities.
As Co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee for four years, I supported energy conservation initiatives, clean energy proposals with special attention to developing solar programs in CT, clean water and clean air. I was responsible for establishing the nation’s first green bank that provided low cost loans for clean energy projects. Programs that I established created well-paying jobs in energy conservation and solar installation. I am a proponent of environmental justice that supports the meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws and policies.
The State must get spending under control and spending should be prioritized based upon needs. State spending should be evaluated frequently to determine the effectiveness of programs being funded. Programs that are not effective should be eliminated. Funding should be based upon results and state agencies must be accountable for the dollars they spend by providing reports and recommendations before final spending decisions are made. As a State Representative, I supported requiring performance measures before spending was approved. We can go one step further and require state auditors to conduct effectiveness audits of state agencies. Particular attention should be paid to fraud and abuse.
Taxes should be applied fairly and based upon ability to pay. Most important, tax dollars should not be wasted. A decision to cut or raise taxes must be balanced against the impact of service cuts on education, seniors, children and critical services. If taxes are cut at the state level causing cities and towns to raise property taxes it is not a tax cut but a tax shift.
I do not support placing tolls on Connecticut roads. I am concerned that Connecticut residents will bear the burden of the cost of the tolls. The potential exists that congestion pricing will raise the cost to Connecticut residents going to and coming from work. It may also cause residents to pay tolls for trips to the grocery store or force them to get on and off the toll roads, creating traffic congestion in the impacted towns. I do not support the proposed toll study. While I believe we need data before beginning a project, the ten-million-dollar study cost is too expensive and has not been justified.
Seniors must be allowed to remain at home as long as possible. Community supports are a necessary and more cost-effective way to keep seniors at home. I strongly support funding programs that provide both supports to seniors to allow them to stay in their homes and respite to care giving families. Reducing prescription drug costs and providing reliable utility service at a reasonable rate is very important. For those on fixed incomes each increase can be devastating financially.
Workers need to be treated with respect, have the right to collectively bargain, and the right to pension benefits and the right to a fair living wage. They should not have to worry about being bankrupted by illness because of inadequate health coverage. After having worked a lifetime, retirees deserve a pension they can live on and health care coverage they can count on.
Close to 1000 Connecticut residents die of opioid related deaths each year. Training health professional in alternatives to opioids, limiting the length prescriptions, tracking prescriptions, providing more substance abuse beds, and encouraging the use of Narcan to prevent overdose deaths are all needed steps to address this problem.
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 for the New Haven Register for 34 years.