Dan Fontaine, is the Democratic Endorsed Candidate for 90th State Rep. District. He is a Candidate Who Is Willing to Lead; Who Puts Forward His Ideas and Values; and Who is Willing to Fight for Them.
Dan Fontaine, Democratic-endorsed candidate for the 90th State Representative District that includes Wallingford and Cheshire, is like many first-time politicians.
Growing up, while attending Enfield High and then UConn where he earned his doctoral degree in software engineering, running for public office was the furthest thing on Fontaine's mind. Then there was that spark – an event or issue – that motivates and inspires a non-political person to take the plunge into politics.
“Bernie Sanders was an inspiration for me, the way he talked about issues in a bold and progressive way,” Fontaine said. “He was actually talking about issues that matter, healthcare for everyone, tuition-free public college. He is an honest advocate for working people.”
In the summer of 2017, when the state was locked in a protracted fight over the budget, Fontaine joined the effort of the Connecticut chapter of the Working Families Organization to get petitions signed in his hometown of Wallingford calling for a halt to cuts to basic services and instead requiring the state’s wealthiest residents to pay their fair share of taxes. Wallingford residents signed the petition by the hundreds.
"The effective state and local tax rate paid by the top 1 percent is about half of what low and middle-income earners pay,” Fontaine said. “We just had two tax hikes targeting working families and then years of deep cuts to basic services. It's time to stop the assault on our middle-class, the wealthy should be paying at least the same rates as the rest of us.
“My candidacy grew out of that petition drive. Until that point in my life I never thought about going into politics."
In the fall of 2017, when the petition drive ended, Fontaine still wanted to make a difference in his community. He recognized that Craig Fishbein, Republican incumbent of the 90th State Representative District, didn’t have a Democratic opponent. Fontaine decided to step up.
“Fishbein is really on the extreme end of the political spectrum,” Fontaine said. “He’s doing things that are very damaging. He wants to cut everything, K-12 and higher education, healthcare, Medicare-Savings, financial-aid for college. He hopes to abolish the minimum wage and has put forward a plan that would increase tuition at our public colleges to the level of private universities.
“His proposal to eliminate the income tax will do real damage to our schools and send local property taxes through the roof. At the same time, he has proposed more tax cuts for the wealthiest residents."
Fontaine wants to do what he can to help working families and the middle class.
“I’m a positive guy but I’m also realistic,” Fontaine said. “Connecticut is falling behind neighboring states. I want to focus on the unequal tax situation and the budget so that we can move forward. We need to pass a law for paid family and medical leave. I also want to fund tuition-free state colleges like New York State has done and increase the minimum wage. I want to do what I can to help working families in Connecticut. My opponent has opposed these pro middle-class policies.”
Fontaine said he has knocked on about 20,000 doors during his campaign and will get to many more by the time Election Day arrives on Nov. 6. Throughout his campaign, the face-to-face of door knocking has provided Fontaine with the most insight when it comes to what issues are important to voters in his district.
“It’s an uphill fight when you take on an incumbent,” Fontaine said. “We were one of the earliest campaigns to start door knocking, we started the first week of February. Our campaign has built a real grassroots organization and to see all the volunteers and support is really incredible."
Fontaine and his campaign are sending a message directly to voters when it comes to what can be accomplished.
“People are tired of the doom and gloom, and all of the negativity,” Fontaine said. “Connecticut has serious challenges, but we also have the resources to fix them. We are among the richest states in the richest country in history. We don't have to settle for the dismantling of our middle class. We need someone willing to stand up and say that the corporate and economic elite should be held to the same rules and pay at least the same taxes as the rest of us.
“After talking to so many people, my feeling is we have a real shot to win this. The state is at a major crossroad and Fishbein and I represent two very different paths forward. My overwhelming impression is that people get it, they want a change from the two-party consensus. They are just looking for a candidate willing to lead, to put those ideas and values out there and then go and fight for them. I am prepared to do that.”
For more information go to Fontaine’s website at http://www.fontainefor90.org/.
The "Oprah" of politicians: Seeking re-election, 103rd District State Rep. Liz Linehan follows through on promises, gives back to community
CHESHIRE--Communication is one of the many qualities of politician Liz Linehan, whether it was as a former two-term District 3 Town Councilor in Cheshire or as a current Democrat State Representative serving the 103rd District in Southington, Wallingford and Cheshire and seeking re-election.
Another important quality on the other end of the spectrum for Linehan is knowing the importance of listening to people -- all constituents no matter who you are or what your party affiliation might be -- and listening to both sides of an issue when considering legislation.
The combination of the two skills has allowed her to be a successful, consistent advocate for her constituents as a hands-on politician who gets things done. When she makes a campaign promise, she delivers on that promise, always giving back to the community.
Linehan’s ability to get things done and give back to the community has prompted some constituents to call her the “Oprah” of politicians. The belief is that Linehan constantly gives back to her district the way that Oprah Winfrey constantly gives back to the community (charitable community programs, philanthropy, etc.).
The first time I heard Linehan referred to as the “Oprah” of politics was during a conversation with a gentleman and his wife near the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee booth at the Cheshire Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Fall Festival.
“Liz, that Liz is something,” said James T., who didn’t want his last name revealed. “She’s done a lot of things for a lot of people. I heard this somewhere, but she really is the Oprah of politics, kind of like the way Oprah Winfrey gives back to people.”
When Linehan first ran for Cheshire Town Council in 2013, she promised to improve public safety, restore bulky waste and limit tax hikes. She was able to accomplish each of those promises in the first four months of her first term on the Cheshire Town Council in 2014.
During her second term as Town Councilor, in 2016 Linehan was elected as the State Representative for the 103rd District. In the 2017 legislative session, Liz introduced four bills that she successfully championed through House passage and three were signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy. The bills included a law to prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. There was also anti-human trafficking legislation that creates a new crime known as “commercial sex abuse of a minor.” Another successful piece of legislation is a law to train police officers in communicating with and understanding autistic children, specifically those with a tendency to wander from their homes.
“The only way I know how to best represent my constituents is to talk to them face to face,” Linehan said. “During the campaign I knock on thousands of doors and go to as many public events as possible to connect with constituents. I don’t talk. They talk, I listen.
“When I’m not campaigning, my door, my office is always open to everyone in my district. When people do reach out to me, they are always so happy that I am so accessible. I want to help them with any problem whether they believe it is big or small. I did that as a Town Councilor, I’m doing that as State Representative and I’ll always do that for my constituents.”
Linehan has shown the same hands-on, active role as a State Representative as she did as a Cheshire Town Councilor.
Linehan supported the education-to-career pipeline by creating the first ever Student Manufacturer Connection Fair, pairing high school students with high tech manufacturers to inspire the innovators of tomorrow. Linehan said the initiative was the result of a meeting with an aerospace manufacturer in her district.
She listened to the issues facing the manufacturing supply chain and did not hesitate to help out. The Student Manufacturer Connection Fair is now an annual event with typically several hundred in attendance.
After a Southington bus driver was arrested for molesting a child, Linehan authored a bill that would protect children from predators by making sure parents and schools were always notified of such an arrest. However, the State Senate session ended before the bill could get to that legislative body.
Understanding the need to combat the opioid crisis, Linehan partnered with the Regional Action Councils to provide proactive training to teachers, coaches, and administrators in Cheshire and Wallingford initially and eventually Southington. The staff learned how to recognize signs of drug abuse in teenagers and how to appropriately intervene and refer a student to treatment.
Known as the A-SBIRT certificate program, this training was provided at very little cost to the district at only $5 per participant.
When Malloy first proposed a state budget, Cheshire would have lost about $10 million in state revenue from the cuts he proposed. Linehan fought to get that $10 million back for Cheshire. She also fought to get a $500,000 grant for Cheshire for school safety.
Healthcare is another issue for Linehan who co-authored and passed legislation to make sure people get coverage for prescription medications, hospital visits, drug rehab and mental healthcare.
Malloy’s budget also would have eliminated $58 million that Southington was due for reimbursement of combined sewer projects. Like Cheshire and other towns, Southington was slated to lose $5.1 million due to cuts in the budget. Linehan fought back and the measure to eliminate the $58 reimbursement was defeated and Southington got its $5.1 million returned as well, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars.
As Election Day on Nov. 6 approaches, the “Oprah” of politicians will continue to knock on doors every day. Among the concerns of people she has talked to are the state budget, taxes and jobs.
“We need to work to balance the budget, and all our state programs are being audited to find ways to cut and reduce spending,” Linehan said. “I agree we need to reduce spending, but legislators shouldn’t do it if the cuts do more harm than good.
“I listen to the concerns of everyone I talk to in Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford. I want to help people any way I can, in my district and throughout Connecticut as well. Just the other day a young woman called me to help her homeless mother in Southington. I made sure we found her a homeless shelter. That is what this job is all about, what it means to me. It’s about helping people and making their lives better.”
Political evolution of Liping Peng: From the sideline, to being an activist, registered voter, Democratic volunteer, mobilizing the Chinese American community to get involved and vote
CHESHIRE-In 2004, Liping Peng immigrated from China with her family.
A year later she studied at Southern Connecticut State University, not only to learn English but also to pursue her bachelor’s degree in accounting. At the time, she had never thought that politics would become such a great commitment in her life.
Fast forward to 2018.
She has become an American citizen, her two children are in the Cheshire school system, at the urging of friend Breina Schain she registered to vote on March 5 for the first time, and now she is an active member of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee and Cheshire Democratic Women’s Club.
Peng has also been on a mission to educate and mobilize the nearly 300 Chinese immigrants living in Cheshire when it comes to the importance of being involved with politics, registering to vote and then getting out and vote.
A lot has happened for Peng between 2005 and today, including the realization of what American Democracy is all about and the importance of exercising your right to vote.
“When I first came here to America, I was concentrating on getting a good education at Southern,” Peng said. “I couldn’t even speak English at time. Communication was a challenge for me, but I learned to adapt quickly.
“American politics was so far from my mind at that time. Chinese people don’t really get involved in politics there (China) or here. But as an American citizen, now that you are here and with the United States as our homeland, I understand we have the responsibility to get involved in politics, to do our part with all American citizens to help this place get better. And I am spreading that word in the Chinese community here.”
In order to learn how Peng’s 2018 evolution from being on the sidelines politically to where she is today, we need to go back to February when she heard about the Asian Mandatory Ancestry Registration/Asian Registry.
Connecticut doesn’t have an Asian Registry law, where Asian Americans in schools would be the only ethic group required to identify they are Asian and what Asian countries they come from, at least for right now.
But concerned that laws were passed in California, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Washington State, New York City, and Hawaii to implement an Asian Registry, earlier this year a law - SB 359 - was introduced that would prohibit the collection of separate student data on any specific ethnic subgroups. The law would effectively ban the state from ever implementing an Asian Registry.
On March 8, there was a public hearing in Hartford to discuss the bill and Peng was one of nearly a thousand Asian Americans who converged on Hartford for the hearing.
“With an Asian Registry, only Asian kids are being forced to provide information about where they come from," Peng said. "When that was brought to my attention I couldn’t believe it. School should never force any kids to provide such information, because as citizens, they are all Americans. We don’t want to create an environment that judge students by categorization based on where their family came from or their ethnicity.
“It’s not right. For the first time in my life I decided to take an active role in getting involved in politics. My friends and I, we organized a bus load of other Asians to go to Hartford on March 8 to show support for the bill that was proposed. Republican senators introduced the bill and I got to know Bill Tong (current Democratic candidate for Attorney General) who was involved too.”
Bill SB 359 did not pass.
A couple of weeks prior to the March 8 public hearing, Peng informed her American friends in Cheshire, including Schain, about the Asian Registry and the bill that could eliminate it.
At one point Schain, a Democrat actively involved in local politics in Cheshire and current member of the Cheshire Zoning Board of Appeals, asked Peng if she was registered to vote in Cheshire.
“I asked Li if she was registered to vote and she didn't know anything about that,” Schain said. “I explained to her about our party system and she wanted to know how a Democrat differs from a Republican. Then I spoke about our Legislature and Senators and Congress.
“I did stress that in this country it is not only a right to vote but a responsibility, and privilege.”
On March 5, Schain took Peng to the Registrar’s office and Peng registered to vote.
“Eventually, she decided to register as a Democrat after she understood the party ideals,” Schain said. “I met her at Town Hall and walked her through the process. She was excited to be a voter.
“I asked her to attend a Cheshire Democratic Town Committee meeting with me to see what it is all about. Then I asked her to come to the Democratic Women's Club and she not only came, but promptly joined and paid her dues.”
Peng attended the March 6 monthly meeting of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee to become familiar with American Democracy and the way politics function. At the end of the meeting, as a guest, Peng discussed Bill SB 359 and asked for support.
“Breina kept telling me how important it was to vote, that I needed to vote to make a difference,” Peng said. “I was still so new to politics, new to getting involved and taking advantage of American Democracy. When Breina suggested I go to the CDTC meeting I thought maybe I should check it out.”
After the CDTC meeting, Peng said she felt she discovered a new world.
“At that meeting I saw so many people donating their time and effort to help the community,” said Peng. “I lived in Cheshire for nine years and did nothing to help out. Living here so long without getting involved, I felt isolated.”
“But doing this makes me feel more valuable, not just in Cheshire or this community but valuable for this whole country. We need to think of ourselves as being valuable to this whole country.”
Peng was inspired by the meeting and eventually became a CDTC member.
The political evolution of Peng took another step forward this election cycle when she decided to be active for her friend William Tong’s campaign for Attorney General.
“This is the first time I have ever been involved with a campaign and I’m having so much fun doing it,” Peng said. “I am doing my best to help him out. The biggest reason I am doing this is because he is an honest person. He doesn’t make promises he can’t keep. He’s very experienced and smart.”
Tong is impressed with Peng’s energy.
“Everybody now is woke, being woke is what Liping is all about,” said Tong, referring to the slang form of the word, woke, that represents social awareness, knowing what is going on in the community and being socially conscious. “When I was growing up, there were no Asian role models. Now, with the energy someone like Liping has shown, it’s amazing for all our kids. My kids and Liping’s kids have an opportunity to be a part of this Democratic process.
“Liping is stirring up the Asian community. We need more people like her to get more Asians involved in government. I’d like to think I am a vehicle for that too. Liping is motivating them to be proactive.”
According to Internet reports there are about 160,000 Asians living in Connecticut and there are about 300 living in Cheshire. While 300 might not seem to be a huge number, in a town like Cheshire 300 votes are enough to make a significant impact on a lot of local political campaigns in town.
Peng knows it and she has initiated a mobilizing effort.
“I have sent out 200 mails to Chinese families in Cheshire,” Peng said. “I want to energize them to register to vote, get out and vote and participate in town committee meetings. I want to educate them, have them understand the political experience and let them know they have a responsibility to help and make this place better.”
“I have been encouraged because more Chinese are getting involved. I know a couple of other people in Cheshire who are helping with the Tong campaign. I have Chinese friends outside of Cheshire and now they have joined their town committees in the Avon and Hartford area.”
Peng is being urged to take on other responsibilities for the CDTC and she doesn’t rule out running for office someday – but only when the time is right.
“Realistically, I still need to take baby steps,” Peng said. “I’m still learning the whole Democratic process. I don’t want to take on too many challenges because sometimes it puts too much pressure on you and pressure makes you want to quit.
“I know my ability and what I am able to handle. I will get more involved but right now I enjoy what I am doing. The CDTC and getting involved with politics has been such a wonderful opportunity.”
Hartford to become hub of Connecticut Democratic world for a day as Biden, Murphy, Lamont, Hayes attend Get Out The Vote Rally on Friday
Connecticut residents get a chance to see four high-profile Democrats up close and personal on Friday when Vice President Joe Biden will join U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Cheshire, Connecticut candidate for governor Ned Lamont and candidate for the 5th Congressional District Jahana Hayes at a Get Out the Vote Rally at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy at 53 Vernon St. in Hartford at 3:30 p.m.
The public is invited. Here is a direct link for the public to RSVP if you want to attend the event - www.nedlamont.com/biden
In a prepared statement from Lamont's campaign press office it was noted that Biden has spent his decades-long career fighting for America’s middle class and pursuing policies that create equal opportunity for all. Biden is well-known for his bipartisanship and willingness to work with both parties to create an America that works for everyone.
In addition to urging everyone to get out and vote, hear first hand how Lamont and Hayes will tackle the issues impacting all Connecticut residents and why Biden supports their effort.
Hayes has made an impact with state residents ever since the first day she started knocking on doors in her campaign. If you were on the fence regarding Hayes, if you are a Democrat-leaning Unaffiliated/Independent voter wondering if Hayes is the right way to go, then you should read John Stoehr's recent opinion article in the New Haven Register.
Here is a link to Stoehr's article - bit.ly/2P4UYUG
The program at the rally will begin at 3:30 p.m., doors will open at 3 p.m.
On the fence regarding a vote for Connecticut 5th Congressional District Democratic candidate Jahana Hayes? Then you need to read John Stoehr's article in the New Haven Register
Democrat Jahana Hayes and Republican Manny Santos, who are running in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District to replace U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty who decided not to run, faced off in a debate in Danbury on Wednesday (Oct, 17).
After the debate, John Stoehr wrote an opinion article for the New Haven Register and ultimately declared Hayers a winner not only in the debate but in the overall campaign for the 5th Congressional District.
If you were on the fence regarding Hayes, if you are a Democrat-leaning Unaffiliated/Independent voter wondering if Hayes is the right way to go, then you should read Stoehr's opion article.
Here is a link to Stoehr's article - bit.ly/2P4UYUG
Numbers still looking good: In a town solid red for years, voter registration trend in Cheshire spikes in favor of Democrats past 5 months
(The following is an updated CDTC story published Aug. 9 prior to Connecticut Primary Election Day. This updated version reflects Cheshire voter registration numbers through mid-October)
CHESHIRE – As you walk into the Cheshire Registrar of Voters office at Town Hall, one sign on the entrance door in big bold letters catches your eye as you enter – FEEL THE POWER, DON’T FORGET TO VOTE.
While the phrase is easily the mantra of any registrar in any city or town in the United States, Republican or Democrat, Cheshire Democratic Registrar Tom Smith has embraced the spirit of these words the 30 years he has worked in the registrar’s office.
Smith said he has been blessed to have a job where he constantly meets people and in the process serves the public by providing a voter-friendly experience, from initiating the registration process to answering voter-related questions.
Smith also is becoming a numbers guy.
Recent trends indicate Democrats in Cheshire are feeling the power and he believes they won’t forget to vote on Election Day on Nov. 6.
“I’ve worked in this office for 30 years and one thing I’ve learned is you can’t make people vote,” Smith said. “But voters can be motivated to get out and vote, especially if they are presented with local, state or national issues they are passionate about that make an emotional impact. We’ve been busy.”
While Republicans have usually been the dominating governing party in Cheshire, in particular when it comes to a majority on the nine-person Town Council, in recent months the registration numbers have risen steadily in the favor of Democrats.
CHART--CHESHIRE VOTER REGISTRATION MAY TO OCTOBER
DEMOCRATS REPUBLICANS UNAFFILIATEDS OTHER
MAY 1 5,074 4,713 8,447 227
JULY 1 5,101 4,731 8,481 227
AUG 7 5,165 4,747 8,493 232
Oct 18 5,298 4,873 8,526 244
As you can see above, from May-July, Democratic registration increased by 27 voters while Republican registration increased by 18. But that increase paled in comparison to the huge increase in Democratic registration as the August primaries approached. From July 1 to Aug. 7, there was an increase of 64 Democrats who registered compared to only 16 Republicans. The advantage has held since then. By mid-October, there were 224 additional Democrats, compared to 160 new Republicans.
The summer increase resulted from both new registrations and a spike in the number of unaffiliated voters switching to Democrat to be eligible to vote in the August primary.
Smith recalls that applications switching from unaffiliated to party member status favored Democrats over Republicans 4-to-1 in the weeks preceding that election. Similarly, Republicans also some lost ground over the summer as voters left their party to become unaffiliated.
The deadline for eligible Connecticut citizens to register to vote in person is October 30, which is also the deadline for mail-in registrations to have arrived at the elections office. The only option for registering after that is Election Day Registration [EDR] at the Town Hall, which Smith recommends avoiding because of the complexity and longer time it takes to process the application.
“EDR is meant to be used as a last resort and to restore inactive voters, not as a convenience,” Smith said. “If you’re unregistered and are thinking about voting, register today – there’s no reason to wait and we can process your application much more quickly.”
Anyone unsure of his or her status as a voter can call the Cheshire Registrar’s office at 203-271-6680 for a swift clarification. For more information, visit the Elections Department webpage at
From working on a potato farm to being elected to Cheshire BOE, time is right for 89th State Rep. District Democratic candidate Harrigan to make a difference in Bethany, Prospect, Cheshire
CHESHIRE--Anne Harrigan, Democratic endorsed State Representative candidate in the 89th District, knew as a youngster growing up in Maine that she wanted to be involved in politics some day.
In her early life, the results and rewards of hard work would shape who she would become, but patience and timing -- knowing the right time to pursue any endeavor -- would consistently produce positive results throughout her life.
“I was interested in politics when I was younger in high school and college,” Harrigan said. “I worked on campaigns like Ted Kennedy’s campaign when he ran for president. I ran for dorm rep when I was at UMaine-Orono. And as a member of the Cheshire Board of Education people have been appreciative of the work I’ve done.”
There are many issues that have earned Harrigan’s focus as she has campaigns in the 89th District (Bethany, Prospect and Cheshire) and one key issue is quality education.
“Getting secured funding for education is important at all levels, including post-secondary schools, universities and public schools to improve access and affordability to public higher education,” Harrigan said. “I would also use my higher education experience to support regionalization of our community colleges, to make the process easier for students while maintaining the unique qualities of each school.
“I want to keep our schools safe and foster healthy, anxiety-free environments for students and teachers. My opponent, Lezlye Zupkus, voted against a bill to ban bump stocks. In March high school students in Connecticut and nationwide walked out of classes to show solidarity against gun violence in schools. Students want to feel safe in school. You need to listen to people. Why would anyone vote against a bill to ban bump stocks? The only thing I can think of is that she (Zupkus) wants to keep her A rating from the National Rifle Association.”
Another issue important to Harrigan is tax fairness.
“The middle class is paying more than their fair share,” Harrigan said. “We are burdened disproportionately the way our tax system is set up. I want to work towards progressive tax reform to relieve the middle class from the unfair burden they bear. I want to revise outdated tax exemptions favoring large corporations over working people and I want to develop a proportional tax structure allowing seniors to retire comfortably in Connecticut.”
Jobs and job training and preparation are other key issues for Harrigan.
“Increasing opportunities for internships, apprenticeships and job training are ways to improve job growth,” Harrigan said. “We need to invest in education and job training to prepare students for good-paying jobs in Connecticut industries. It’s important to develop partnerships between colleges and the business community to create more opportunities for an educated workforce ready for the 21st century.
“We should support small and medium-size business expansion as they serve as the engine of job growth and we need to promote economic growth by investing in transportation and infrastructure. We need to have conversations in Hartford on all these issues and we need to elect a critical mass of new legislators who ask hard questions and not just vote along party lines.”
Growing up in northern Maine, Harrigan had a job as early as age 9 when she joined her brother in delivering newspapers back in the day when there were such things as newspaper routes that children could work for. In September, it was normal to have three weeks off from school to work on the potato harvest. Whole families would work in the fields during harvest season. I would go out with my siblings, we were picked up at 6:00 a.m. and taken out to the fields to work.
“I was one of seven children,” Harrigan said. Her father owned a small convenient store and prior to that he worked as a printer at a small newspaper in Houlton, Maine. “My brother and I would get up at 4 a.m. to do the newspaper route to be ready for our ride to the potato fields at 6 a.m. It was one way for us kids to earn some extra money to buy our winter coats and boots.”
Once Harrigan focused on academics, she studied foreign languages and international affairs as an undergraduate. In graduate school, she studied French and then went on to a Ph.D. program in Education. One day being on her community’s Board of Education was “something I put on my bucket list when I was in grad school. I could see how important it was to use your skills and knowledge to give back to your communities, but I needed to wait until my children were older and I wasn’t needed on PTA and Parent Boards at the schools.”
“Over the years, I learned to pursue my interests only when the time was right, to do things when I felt comfortable that I would be successful pursuing that interest. I was interested in running for political office, but it wasn’t the right time for me.”
While education would become a major part of her life -- getting her Ph.D., teaching and eventually becoming a member of the Cheshire Board of Education – while in high school and college her focus was on international relations and international politics.
“Honestly, I fell into teaching and learning,” Harrigan said. “It wasn’t my chosen career path, I had gaps and I wanted fill in those gaps.”
Filling in one of those gaps came from studying foreign language in college. As a junior at UMaine-Orono she was given an opportunity to study overseas and ended up going to France.
“I was in France for 10 months, by myself and in a new environment,” Harrigan said. “When you are in that situation it gives you that need to focus on what you need to do. At the time I wanted to become involved with International Affairs.
“I was interested in the U.S. relationship with foreign countries. That’s why I am so devastated by what is happening today on the national level. The respect we’ve had as an international leader in the world is null and void today.”
As fate would have it, Harrigan would meet her husband Brad Saxton when she was working in D.C. as a budget analyst for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. They moved to Wyoming when her husband got a faculty position at the University of Wyoming School of Law. They moved to Cheshire 16 years ago when he got a new job as dean of Quinnipiac Law School and now they have two grown children Kate Saxton and Michael Saxton.
Harrigan became an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac and holds that position today.
In 2015, with her two children grown, the time was right for Harrigan to run for political office. Embracing her educational background and desire to give back to the community, Harrigan ran for Cheshire Board of Education with Democrats Neeta Vatti, Cathy Hellreich and Marléna Soble. The foursome went 4-0 and were elected to the Board of Education.
“After I got elected, I said to myself, ‘wow,’” Harrigan said. “What a good feeling when you get that kind of support from your community.”
Today, the timing is right for Harrigan as she makes a run at the state level, taking on Republican incumbent Zupkus for the 89th State Representative District seat.
For Harrigan, it is important for her to meet the people she will be representing in the State Legislature, knocking on thousands of doors to meet her constituents.
“I never thought I would like knocking on doors like I do,” Harrigan said. “But I’m learning something new every day. When I knock, I don’t just tell people my agenda, I want to get a sense of what is important to the people of the district. They see what my values are and it’s important to know what their values are, what’s important to them. It becomes personal.
“In any political race the incumbent has a huge advantage,” Harrigan said. “The hard part is doing it one door at a time when you don’t have that name recognition.”
Moving forward, Harrigan believes she has the experience and background to make a difference for people in Prospect, Bethany and Cheshire.
“I’ve been listening to people, a lot of people,” Harrigan said. “We need to straighten out the budget and getting it in order is a priority. We need to invest in education, invest in our working people, invest in our most vulnerable in the community, including children, and safeguard and improve the health needs of everyone. These will be my priorities when I get to the state legislature. I want to be part of a government that cares about people and community."
Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women's "Get Out The Vote Rally" galvanizes Democrats, Democratic-leaning Unaffiliateds/Independents
CHESHIRE--Debra Dickey, president of the Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women, couldn’t have been happier with the organization’s first sponsored Rally to Get Out the Vote in front of Cheshire Town Hall on Saturday (Oct. 13).
The event, hosted by the Cheshire Democratic Women’s Club, was attended by members of the CFDW from as far away as Groton, members of the CDWC and Cheshire Democratic Town Committee, members of the public and nine of the 13 candidates who will be on the Cheshire ballot on Election Day on Nov. 6.
“I am so surprised by everyone who came to the event because of the weather (rain),” Dickey said. “I was concerned when I saw the rainy weather. But the turnout is perfect evidence that we are all very dedicated, standing out in the rain with each person expressing political views and especially our women’s views.”
The purpose of the rally was to get men and women from around the state to promote Democratic candidates, show solidarity and promote women’s issues, and to urge the public to exercise their right and get out and vote.
"I was very happy and impressed by the number of people attending the rally and by the enthusiasm of not only those in attendance but also by a good number of people driving by," said Pat McKenney, president of the Cheshire Democratic Women's Club. "We had great support from our candidates, as we did when we hosted a 'Meet the Candidates' night in September. Cheshire Democrats are working hard and look forward to great results in November."
CFDW 1st vice-president Judy Villa offered, ”More women in elected office means more civility, more collaboration, and better outcomes in the complex process of making government work for the people.”
Villa also is the chairperson for the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee.
“We came to the rally to support our Democratic candidates and we want to urge people to get out and vote,” Dickey said. “But we also want to promote women’s issues due to the current climate and what we see in Washington, D.C. We are not going to go back to the 1950s, a position where the White House wants to go and Republicans seem to promote.
“Another encouraging sign for me is to see so many men at our rally showing support for women.”
Democratic candidates taking part in the rally were 103rd State Rep. Liz Linehan, 89th State Rep. District candidate Anne Harrigan, 16th State Senate District candidate Vickie Orsini Nardello, 13th State Senate District candidate Mary Abrams, Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Lt. Governor candidate Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General candidate William Tong, Treasurer candidate Shawn Wooden and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo.
“Women are concerned, we’re all concerned where women’s issues are headed,” Dickey said. “But this rally is overwhelming proof how Democrats are supporting women.”
Elizabeth Esty Reflects on "Getting the Work Done"; Highlights the Anniversary of Two Key Pieces of Legislation that She Helped Pass
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty of Cheshire, who has been a constant force in having the backs of all her constituents in Connecticut's 5th District and the nation overall, is enjoying a couple of anniversaries this week when it comes to two of the many critical pieces of legislation she helped get passed over the years - the signing of the STEM Education Act of 2015 and the signing of the Gold Star Fathers Act.
Below is a prepared statement from Esty reflecting on the above pieces of legislation and others she has worked on. Esty announced several months ago she would not run for re-election in this election cycle.
From Elizabeth Esty --
"After almost 6 years in Congress, I’ve been lucky to work on dozens of critical pieces of legislation to improve the lives of people all across the nation.
This week in particular marks two dates that I am so proud of: the anniversary of the signing of STEM Education Act of 2015 and the anniversary of the signing of Gold Star Fathers Act.
We need to make sure our students are prepared for 21st-century jobs. So in 2015, I reached across the aisle to pass the STEM Education Act, which strengthens science, technology, engineering, and math training for teachers and includes computer science skills in course offerings to help students prepare for and break into 21st-century careers.
I am also strongly committed to serving the families of our veterans -- it's the motivation behind my Gold Star Fathers Act. This law extends formal hiring preference for federal jobs to fathers of disabled and deceased veterans. Previously, only qualifying mothers were given preference when applying for certain federal civil service jobs.
The partisan rancor and dysfunction of Washington seems to be never-ending, but that isn’t stopping me from getting work done on behalf of the people of Connecticut’s 5th District.
In fact, my 14th piece of legislation was signed into law just last month: The Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act of 2018. Veterans who were exposed to toxins while serving our nation deserve the best care, and this bill will ensure burn pits are studied and researched in order to best protect our service members.
From supporting our students to having our veterans’ backs, my entire career in Congress has been dedicated to working for folks like you.
Looking forward to continuing this critical work throughout 2018."
Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women to Hold "Get Out The Vote Rally" at Cheshire Town Hall. The Public Invited to Join CFDW to Show Support for Democratic Candidates and Women's Issues.
CHESHIRE, CONNECTICUT--Cheshire will make history on Saturday (Oct. 13) when the Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women will hold its first ever Rally to Get Out The Vote in front of Cheshire Town Hall on Route 10 from 11 a.m. to noon.
The event will be hosted by the Cheshire Democratic Women’s Club.
Among the Democratic candidates expected to take part in the rally are 103rd State Rep. Liz Linehan, 89th State Rep. District candidate Anne Harrigan, 16th State Senate District candidate Vickie Orsini Nardello, 13th State Senate District candidate Mary Abrams, 90th State Rep. District candidate Dan Fontaine, 5th U.S. Rep. District candidate Jahana Hayes, Comptroller candidate Kevin Lembo and Lt. Governor candidate Susan Bysiewicz.
"This is going to be an exciting event with people from all over the state gathering in Cheshire to show support for our Democratic candidates," Cheshire Democratic Town Chairperson Judy Villa said. "This is also a great opportunity to show solidarity and support for women's issues and to urge people to get out and vote on Election Day."
The purpose of the rally is to get men and women from around the state to promote Democratic candidates, promote women’s issues and to urge the public to exercise their right and get out and vote.
The public is urged to attend and there will be parking behind Town Hall.
For more information, contact Pat at 203-272-9465 or Deb at 860-822-1140.
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.