Pension Pay Down

State Representative Joe Gresko, (D)
121st Connecticut House District

State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,

Connecticut continues to make sound financial decisions that will strengthen our state long term.

State Comptroller Natalie Braswell announced that her office will transfer $3.1 billion into the rainy-day fund. This move triggers a statutory mandate that requires a one-time, special payment of $2.8 billion to be made toward the state’s unfunded pension liabilities.

This payment, which will be allocated into several pension funds later this year, could save Connecticut taxpayers approximately $6 billion over the next 25 years.

Connecticut was able to build its rainy-day fund through years of deliberate and careful policy. We can now celebrate the benefits of those decisions as we make investments that will not only benefit residents now, but for the foreseeable future.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-8267 or email me at Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Democrat Response to Republican Home Heating Petition

State Representative Joe Gresko, (D)
121st Connecticut House District

“This is unfortunate politicizing of a program that has always existed in the interest of our most vulnerable population.

I encourage my Republican colleagues to contact their Federal GOP representation and ask for the restoration of the full amount of LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) funding, as our Connecticut Congressional members have asked.

There is still time for the federal government to come up with the additional funding before benefits start being paid in November.   If that federal funding is recouped, problem solved.   If not, the state General Assembly could address the issue in a special legislative session in December or at the beginning of the 2023 General Assembly session.”

State Republican’s Petition for Special Session on Home Heating

State Senator Kevin Kelly R 21st District
House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora

Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) and House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) have submitted petitions to the Secretary of the State’s Office calling for a special session to restore home heating oil assistance slashed by Washington to seniors and low income families, as well as expand relief to middle class families.

Lawmakers can petition for a special session by gaining 50 percent plus 1 of members in both the House of Representative and the Senate.

Sen. Kelly, Rep. Candelora, and CT Republican lawmakers have been advocating restoring assistance to seniors and families who face significant cuts to home heating relief through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) because of Washington cutting state assistance. They have sought to increase assistance, calling for a special session in June, offering a committee level amendment to restore funding, and now petitioning for a special session.

“Washington’s dysfunction has failed CT seniors and our most vulnerable residents. Inflation is creating new hardships for middle class families unlike anything we’ve seen before. Good government works to solve these problems, not wait for people to feel the cold creeping into their homes before taking action,” said Sen. Kelly and Rep. Candelora.

“Connecticut has the funds to provide relief to not only restore funding slashed by Washington for seniors and the most vulnerable, but also to expand relief to middle-class families facing historic challenges. Thus far, CT Democrats have rejected our calls for relief and action. Although they refused to act on the Legislative Committee level, we can still get this over the finish line if lawmakers join together to call a special session to put money back in the pockets of our overtaxed and overburdened working- and middle-class families. We urge our colleagues to join us in signing these petitions so that we can take action before a crisis hits,” said Kelly and Candelora.

What happens if lawmakers do nothing?
• The heating assistance program will face a 40% cut
• The poorest families in CT will see their home heating oil assistance reduced by nearly $3,000 compared to the aid they received last year – at a time when home heating oil prices are skyrocketing.
• A senior with just $2270/month in total income will have their benefit cut from $3075 to only $730 in fuel authorizations. That is not even a tank of oil at the current prices.
• In utility-heated households the lowest income households will get $415 less toward their utility heat bill this season.

What happens if the legislature goes into special session?
• CT Republicans have a plan to restore home heating assistance to all qualifying families and seniors.
• The Republican proposal also will establish a new $330 benefit for every working- and middle-class family earning between 61%-120% of state median income. Are you a family of four earning $150,000 or less? Then this plan means relief for you too.

***If you are in need of winter energy assistance, you can apply for help online, by phone, by email, by mail, or in person at your local Community Action Agency (CAA). Click to learn how to apply: https://portal.ct.gov/DSS/Economic-Security/Winter-Heating-Assistance/Energy-Assistance—Winter-Heating/How-To-Apply ***

Senator Kevin Kelly Earns Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police Endorsement

State Senator Kevin Kelly R 21st District

Senator Kevin Kelly, who is running for reelection to represent the 21st Senate District, has earned the endorsement of the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police.

“I first must thank the brave men and women who work hard every day to make our communities safe. Thank you for putting others before yourself and helping us all during our greatest times of need,” said Sen. Kevin Kelly. “Everyone deserves to live in a state where you and your family feel safe. Safe walking down the street, driving in their car, or sleeping in their homes. I know far too many who do not feel safe today, and Connecticut must do more to not only respond to crime by addressing the symptoms, but to address the root causes of crime. I’ve worked with law enforcement, youth advocates, community leaders, and public defenders to develop a holistic approach to address crime, justice, and opportunity. I will continue to fight for solutions that not only ensure law enforcement and our justice system have the tools they need to keep all people safe, but that also strive to end the cycle of juvenile injustice and a lack of opportunity that pushes people, especially young people, towards crime.”

Sen. Kelly was informed of his endorsement in a letter from Det. Sgt. John Krupinsky, President of the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police.

“It is with great honor that the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police announces that it has endorsed you for this upcoming election. There is no doubt that you will put the best interests of Law Enforcement and your constituents first,” wrote Det. Sgt John Krupinsky. “I believe you are the best candidate to move the safety and security of this state forward.”

Sen. Kelly has developed and advocated for comprehensive solutions to improve Connecticut’s crime response, support law enforcement, and remove barriers to intervention services, as well as policies to address the root causes of crime including issues related to trauma, education, housing and jobs.

Senator Kelly, a lifelong resident of Stratford, currently serves as the Senate Minority Leader in the state Senate and works as an elder law attorney as the owner of Kevin Kelly & Associates, PC; a Stratford law firm. As a state Senator, Kevin Kelly has championed historic bipartisan legislation to enhance children’s mental health care, promote public safety, enhance health care access, create fiscal stability, and strengthen the state’s elder abuse laws. Prior to working in private practice, Kevin Kelly worked as an investigator for the Department of Social Services for over 13 years. He and his wife Cindy live in Stratford and have four children and seven grandchildren.

Early voting in Connecticut? Early lawn signs? Penalty for not voting?

Ask The Registrar

Your place for answers about voting and local elections in Stratford.

By Registrar of Voters James Simon (D)

Q. I read there is a ballot question in November that would allow early voting in Connecticut, as they have in so many other states. How early? How would it work?

46 of the 50 states allow in-person voting before Election Day. If the question is approved, the Legislature would then decide on the details. One system used in some states calls for a single, central polling location that is open for several days before the official election date. If approved, a revised system might be in place in Connecticut for the November 2024 presidential election.

In addition to the ballot question, voters in November will decide on candidates for Governor, all the state constitutional offices like Secretary of State, U.S. Senate, state legislature, and the town’s Judge of Probate.

Q. Why are the political lawn signs up so early this year in Stratford?

Stratford has non-binding guidelines — not a law – that limits such signs to 30 days before an election. This year, candidates from both parties had lawn signs up by Labor Day, which is more than 60 days out.

Political scientists are skeptical that the signs make much of a difference in the outcome of an election. But, candidates and their campaign workers love the increased visibility the signs can bring, and the signs can do a good job of alerting voters about a low-profile primary or general election.

Q. I changed my last name after getting married, and now I am afraid I am registered to vote under two names. What should I do?

You can call our office (number below) or check for yourself at https://portaldir.ct.gov/sots/LookUp.aspx?fbclid=IwAR1yUL06V2ci3TmhQDbOL-b0tv4nOnowc38XOINlE6L33A3aJ5ifObNeX3k

We routinely discover and remove dozens of maiden names, avoiding duplication.

It’s not against the law to be registered twice; it’s only a crime if you try to vote twice in the same election. But we try to keep records as up to date as possible.

Q. You sent me a letter saying you changed my street address. Why? I didn’t tell you to change it.

More than a dozen Stratford registered voters signed petitions recently to help minor party candidates get on the ballot, and the voters provided a different address than their legal voting address. By doing so, they legally changed their voting address. After making the change, we do send out a letter and ask the voter to contact us if there is any problem with the new address.

In most cases, people have moved across town and forgotten to tell us. It can make a big difference if you have moved to a new neighborhood with a different polling place, different Town Council member, or different state legislator.

Q. What happens if I don’t vote?

That is your choice. But under state law, we reclassify you from being an Active voter to Inactive if you fail to vote in two consecutive federal elections (over four years). You would then have to fill out a form at your polling place to reactivate yourself if you want to cast a ballot.

After eight years of no voting, you are moved to “Off” status; you can reregister at any time.

More Questions? Please Send Them To Registrar Jim Simon; jsimon@townofstratford.com. Telephone contact: 203-385-4049

This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford.
• Register to Vote; change your name, address and/or Party affiliation: https://voterregistration.ct.gov/OLVR
• Look up and see if you are already registered: https://portaldir.ct.gov/sots/LookUp.aspx?fbclid=IwAR1yUL06V2ci3TmhQDbOL-b0tv4nOnowc38XOINlE6L33A3aJ5ifObNeX3k
• Our ROV website for additional information: http://www.townofstratford.com/content/39832/39846/39935/default.aspx

State Reps Honor Hispanic Heritage Month

State Representative Joe Gresko, (D)
121st Connecticut House District

State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,

From September 15 to October 15 we observe Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate, recognize, and feature the countless achievements of the many Hispanic Americans who have positively impacted and enriched our communities.

Their rich culture has influenced the entertainment industry, sports, fashion, food, politics, education, science, and more with an enormous worldwide economic impact.

The legislature adopted the inclusion of Latino studies in our public high school curriculum beginning in the fall of 2022. I believe the curriculum will add an integral part of American history to student studies.

Please join us in recognizing the successes, challenges, and stories of Hispanic Americans this month and their invaluable contributions to our culture.

As always, please feel free to reach out to us at the Capitol at 800-842-8267 or email us at

Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Phil.Young@cga.ct.gov

Energy Assistance

State Representative Joe Gresko, (D)
121st Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,

The application period for the 2022-2023 winter season of the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) will open on Thursday, September 1st. As colder days approach, this program supports vulnerable Connecticut residents – both homeowners and renters – with the costs of heating their homes.

Applying is simple, and there are several ways to apply:

Online at:  ct.gov/heatinghelp/apply

Your local community action agency and request assistance applying, or schedule an in-person appointment – https://alliancect.org/energy-assistance/

Download and complete the CEAP application, and mail the completed application with the required documents to your local community action agency.

Benefits are based on your household’s income and number of family members. Benefits are available for households with incomes up to 60% of the state median income, which equates to roughly $76,400 for a family of four.

Typically, benefits are usually paid directly to the utility company or fuel supplier. Households that heat with deliverable fuels like oil or propane may be eligible for multiple free tank fills.

Applications for the 2022-2023 winter season must be received by May 31, 2023.

If you’d like more information, call 2-1-1

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-8267 or email me at Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Joseph P. Gresko

Shopping for Tax Free Week Starts on Sunday

Tax Free Week  Shopping Starts on Saturday

by State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,

Connecticut’s 2022 Sales Tax Free Week is August 21st through August 27th. This is a great opportunity to take the kids back-to-school shopping or to treat yourself or your loved ones while saving.

Many retailers in Connecticut offer additional discounts on clothing and footwear during Sales Tax Free Week, offering consumers even more savings.

During the one-week sales tax holiday, most clothing and footwear items priced under $100 are exempt from the Connecticut sales tax. The exemption during Sales Tax Free Week applies to each eligible item costing under $100, regardless of how many of those items are sold to a customer in the same transaction. The tax holiday applies to purchases made in-store, online, mail-order, and over the phone.

The sales tax holiday occurs once a year because of legislation passed in 2015. However, in 2022, we passed a special act to establish a one-time tax holiday that ran from April 10th to 16th to help ease some of the financial strain on residents. The law also established CT’s gas tax holiday and free bus service, which have been extended through the end of November.

More information about Connecticut’s Sales Tax Holiday, including a list of exempt and taxable items, is available on the Department of Revenue Services website.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Sincerely,

Phil

Phil.Young@cga.ct.gov

Know Your Winners!!!

August 9th Primary Election Results

United States Senate Race:

Democrats: Senator Richard Blumenthal
In 2010, Senator Blumenthal was elected to represent Connecticut in the United States Senate. He was reelected in 2016. He is chair of the Commerce Consumer Protection subcommittee, a member of the Committee on the Judiciary, Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, Committee on Armed Services, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Special Committee on Aging

Senator Blumenthal served an unprecedented five terms, from 1991 to 2011, as Connecticut’s Attorney General, fighting for people against large and powerful special interests. His aggressive law enforcement for consumer protection, environmental stewardship, labor rights, and personal privacy helped to reshape the role of state attorneys general nationwide, and resulted in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars for Connecticut taxpayers and consumers each year.

His father fled Nazi Germany at age 18, and his mother left Nebraska’s farmland to become a social worker. He was educated at Harvard College (Editorial Chairman The Harvard Crimson, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude), and Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. He worked as assistant to Daniel Patrick Moynihan (a Lion of the Senate from New York) when he was Assistant to President Nixon. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves in 1970, and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1976.

Republicans: Leora R. Levy
Leora R. Levy: 46,658 votes, 50.63%
Themis Klarides: 36,872 votes, 40.01%
Peter Lumaj: 8,629 votes, 9.36%

Levy was endorsed by Donald Trump last week, and won the race by a 10 percentage point margin. A Greenwich resident. Her family escaped communist Cuba in 1960 and came to the United States. She was a financial trader at Phibro Salomon, she was a philanthropist and political fundraiser for the GOP, and named to the Republican National Committee in 2017. She was nominated by Trump to be the ambassador to Chile, but the Senate never confirmed her.
Stance on abortion

Levy was previously pro-choice, but has changed her position in recent years, and is now opposed to abortion unless the mother’s life is in jeopardy or the pregnancy is a product of rape or incest. She is in favor of allowing anybody to use birth control because it is a private decision.

Stance on school shootings “The answer to stopping school shootings is to secure schools, mental health funding and training local police.”

Primary issues in the U.S. “The issues that are driving this election are the economy, the invasion at the border, the rising crime, the indoctrination of our children with critical race theory and the division of our society between one race and the other.” She also said the U.S. is not systemically racist.

Secretary of the State

Republicans endorsed Dominic Rapini.

Dominic Rapini 51,227 +58.2%58.2%
Terrie Wood 36,808 +41.8%41.8
Total reported 88,035

Republican Dominic Rapini bested Darien State House Rep. Terrie Wood in the secretary of the state race, according to the Associated Press. Rapini is a longtime Apple salesman and a member of the Branford Republican Town Committee. He has testified several times in Hartford about Connecticut’s election system and has said the state needs to update its voter rolls.

Democrats endorsed Stephanie Thomas

Stephanie Thomas 84,291 +75.8%75.8%
Maritza Bond 26,925 +24.2%24.2
Total reported 111,216

Thomas is the state representative for the 143rd House District, which covers portions of Norwalk, Wilton and Westport. Maritza Bond conceded to party-endorsed candidate Stephanie Thomas in the secretary of the state race about an hour after polls closed.

She is a small business owner who has spent three decades advising and problem-solving for nonprofit organizations. In 2020, she was elected to represent Norwalk, Wilton, and Westport as a Representative in Connecticut’s State House, flipping that seat from Republican to Democrat.

She is Vice Chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, and has sponsored and helped pass a variety of voter-focused bills such as automatic voter registration at state agencies and resolutions to advance early voting and no-excuse absentee ballot voting.

Connecticut State Treasurer

Democrats also had a three-candidate race for state treasurer. Current State Treasurer Sean Wooden announced he would not run for reelection in order to spend more time with his family. Democrats endorsed Erick Russell.

Erick Russell: 63,568      57.53%
Dita Bhardava:  25,158   22.77%
Karen Dubois- Walton- Working Party:  21,761 19.70%

Est. rpt >95%

New Haven attorney Erick Russell captured the Democratic nomination for state treasurer in Tuesday’s primary, easily outpolling Greenwich hedge fund manager Dita Bhargava and New Haven Housing Authority President Karen DuBois-Walton.

A partner with Pullman and Comley who specializes in public financing, he focuses on public and private finances. He has represented municipalities and state agencies on projects including schools, affordable housing and restructuring pension obligations. He will face state Rep. Harry Arora, a Greenwich Republican, in the general election in November.

23rd District State Senate Race (The 23rd Senatorial District includes part of Stratford and about half of Bridgeport)

Incumbent Democratic state Senator Dennis Bradley lost his primary challenge against Herron Gaston in the 23rd District in Tuesday’s election, according to the Connecticut Post.
Bradley, who is currently serving his second term, failed to receive the party’s nomination and challenged Gaston – the endorsed candidate. Bradley was indicted last year on federal charges in connection with a campaign fund scheme, according to authorities. He has denied wrongdoing as he awaits trial.

The Post reports Bradley first declared victory around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, but conceded soon after 11 p.m.
District 23

Herron Gaston 1,775 52.2%
Dennis Bradley 1,628 47.8%

An Awaking on Freedom On Primary Election Day

By Lichel Johnson

(Editor’s Note: Lichel Johnson is one 16 current and former high school students from Stratford who worked as paid workers at Stratford’s 10 polling locations on Aug. 9th. The Crier invited them all to describe what it was like to work at the polls at such a young age – and on the hottest and muggiest Election Day in memory. Here is her report from District 3, Johnson House polling station.

My name is Lichel Johnston. I am 17 years old and will be a senior this fall at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield.

As I sat on the metal folding chair, beads of sweat dotting my forehead and dripping down onto my t-shirt, I carefully ripped “I voted” stickers and diligently handed them to each voter as they dropped their ballot. People from all walks of life- some old, others young, some black, others white, women and men- proudly placed their stickers on their chests and made their way out the double doors ready to conquer their day.

It was 7 A.M., and I was starting my second hour as a 17-year-old poll worker.

After I had read just about every flashy poster adorning the gym walls and imagined myself shooting a basket from just about every line on the school basketball court, I realized I had exhausted my resources and decided to quickly text my mom, who had just gotten into work. When I began complaining about how muggy and humid it was in the gym she responded with, “Ay Mija, you have no idea the privilege you have to sit there.”

Privilege? Is that what this was? Waking up at five o’clock in the morning and sitting in 90-degree weather did not seem privileged to me, and when I told her this, she simply laughed and said “You have no idea.”

No idea about what? I was confused by her words, my mouth was dry, and the ice in my bottle had melted leaving me with warm water and a puddle of condensation. When all of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I see an older gentleman wearing a blue shirt with the word “FREEDOM” plastered in bold letters, and whether it was the coffee finally kicking in or the granola bar I had eaten for breakfast, it all clicked.

My mother is an immigrant to the United States from Cuba. She made the journey all by herself almost 25 years ago when she was just 21 years old. The privilege she spoke about in her cryptic message was simply being able to vote. Now I say simply very loosely because for her, living under a dictatorship stripped her of the many freedoms we as Americans are able to enjoy and often take for granted.

While I sat in the heat as a promoter of democracy, she sat in the heat forced to hear empty promises of how her country would one day be restored to its former glory. With every ballot that I watched drop and every sticker that I gave, I saw citizens serving their community as they saw the best fit.

Whether Democrat or Republican, all the voters gathered in that humid room for the same reason- to leave their mark and bring about an opportunity for change. This realization made me incredibly proud to be where I was- to be a facilitator of this freedom and to relish in the luxury of helping others to “simply” vote. It is a memory I will hold onto when return to Notre Dame this fall as a senior.

So as I went about my day, I remembered who I was doing this for…for my family in Cuba who are falsely given the hope of a democracy, for the young girls in Saudi Arabia who will never get to experience an election simply for being a woman, and most of all for my mother who that Tuesday morning reminded me of how incredibly privileged I was to be a poll worker.

To be a freedom fighter.