Republican Valley Legislators Call on Governor to Honor Promise

Fund Valley Regional Fire School

by State Rep. Ben McGorty, (R)
122nd House District

In a letter to Governor Lamont, State Representatives Nicole Klarides-Ditria (R-105), David Labriola (R-131), Ben McGorty (R-122), Cindy Harrison (R-69) and State Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-21) and State Senator Eric Berthel (R-32) called on him to honor his campaign promise to provide state funding for the important Valley Regional Fire School.

“The Bond Commission met this week but once again did not include funds for the Valley Regional Fire School which has been continually underfunded despite numerous promises over the years, including by the current governor,” Rep. Klarides-Ditria said. “For more than twenty years this important community safety training facility has been used as a campaign football that gets tossed away as soon as the election is over. With the need for experienced and properly trained firefighters more now than ever, it’s imperative this get done.”

“At a time when many components of State Government have been running at half capacity under the strain of the pandemic, it is essential that we keep our safety infrastructure strong and resilient,” the legislators wrote in the letter.

“Public safety must always be a priority of government. Supporting the Valley Fire Training School is important to ensure we have accessible training for the first responders who serve and protect everyone across the Valley,” Sen. Kelly said.

“It’s simple: write the check,” Rep. McGorty said. “The full funding of the Valley Regional Fire School is an issue of public safety and now, for two decades, politics has gotten in the way. The services provided by the VRFS are essential and ensure that communities which cannot afford a paid fire department are well-served by dedicated volunteers. Residents throughout the Valley and in the 122nd District cannot afford for the Bond Commission to delay this any longer.”

“At a time when many municipalities rely on volunteers, we should be supporting this project,” Rep. Harrison said. “Without this school, the local fire departments struggle to recruit and retain volunteers as they do not have a local school to offer the needed training. We cannot expect volunteers to travel over an hour one-way to attend classes. This project is long overdue. The Governor promised to get this done.”

“At a time when we’re hearing of all of the projects that received the state’s support through bond funding, I’m dismayed that the Valley Regional Fire School did not make the cut, despite the Governors past overtures of support,’ Senator Berthel said. “This is a facility where our community’s firefighters get training to go out and save lives. With the original construction bid issued nearly a decade ago, it is time for the Governor to make this a priority as promised. “

Citing promises made during the 2018 gubernatorial campaign and the incredible statewide need for highly trained first responders and firefighters, the Valley delegation and area legislators implored the governor to place the school on the next agenda.

“Not placing this project on the Bond Agenda and allowing this project and the original bid for construction which was issued in 2013 to essentially “die on the vine” will cost the taxpayers millions. Decisions like this will not only cost our state more in the long run, but also puts our residents and firefighters at greater risk. We are calling on you to make good on your promise to fund the Valley Regional Fire School by placing it on the next Bond Agenda,” they wrote.

Bond Commission Approves Funding Request for Raymark Site

State Representative Joe Gresko (D)
121st District

Dear Neighbor,

You may have heard last week that my $2.5 million bonding request for groundwater and soil remediation at the Raymark superfund site was added to the State Bond Commission’s meeting agenda. Earlier today, the Commission held its meeting to vote on the allocation of the requested funds for our community and it was approved.

As House Chair of the Environment Committee, which has cognizance over the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, I fought hard to have this funding included in the bonding committee’s agenda. This project has been a long and sometimes frustrating journey, but it is the right thing to do to protect our residents and our environment.

If you are interested in what the bonding process looks like, or just want to hear the votes, you can watch a replay of the meeting on CT-N.

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.

Energy Assistance Program

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

Dear Neighbor,
Increasing fuel prices will present additional challenges for Connecticut residents to keep warm this winter season.

For those who need help, I want to share information on energy assistance services available in the state.

Some of the energy assistance programs available in Connecticut include:

  • Connecticut Energy Assistance Program: Administered by the Connecticut Department of Social Services, the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), provides winter heating cost assistance to more than 75,000 income-eligible households every year, regardless of their heat source. People should contact their local Community Action Agency to apply. Statewide consumer and application information is available on the web at ct.gov/staywarmor by calling 2-1-1. CEAP has significantly higher benefit levels from a record $135 million in federal funding to help heat Connecticut homes. Both homeowners and renters can be eligible. CEAP helps enrollees afford the cost of natural gas and electric heat, as well as deliverable fuels like oil and propane.
  • Nonprofit heating assistance services: Operation Fuel and other nonprofits provide year-round emergency energy assistance to low-to-moderate-income households that don’t qualify for CEAP or who run out of CEAP benefits. Information is available at org.
  • COVID-19 Payment Plans for Utility-Heated Customers: The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has directed all regulated electric, gas, and water utilities in the state to offer COVID-19 payment plans, which both residential and non-residential customers are eligible to enroll in through the end of the public health emergency declaration. COVID-19 payment plans are available to any customer requesting financial assistance to facilitate the repayment of past due balances in addition to the customer’s current monthly bill. These plans require no initial or down payment or demonstration of financial need; can be up to 24 months in length; and waive any fees or interest in the calculation of the monthly payment amount. Customers can receive information on these payment plans by contacting their utility companies.
  • Electric Utility Bill Assistance from UniteCT: Established by Governor Lamont and administered by the Connecticut Department of housing, UniteCTprovides rental and utility assistance funding for those financially impacted by COVID-19. UniteCT has become a model for other states by successfully delivering more than $18 million to electric customers to date to help pay down their arrearages (back bills). Connecticut residents who rent their homes can apply through their electric utility company or municipal electric company.  For more information, visit ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/UniteCT.
  • Winter Protection Program – Moratorium on Heating Source Shut-Offs: From November 1 through May 1, there is a moratorium in Connecticut on heating source shut-offs for eligible households. Customers should contact their utility and inquire about the Winter Protection Program, as well as other programs for which they may be eligible. More information is available from 2-1-1 by visiting 211ct.org/winter-protection-winter-moratorium/.
  • Energy-Saving Solutions – Energize CTEnergize CTcan help customers save money on energy bills by providing advice, information, and financial incentives to make homes more energy efficient. For more information, visit com.
  • Consumer Protections Regarding Third-Party Electricity Suppliers: Over the past decade, Connecticut has enacted a series of consumer protections for customers of electric suppliers, including prohibiting variable rates and giving PURA the discretion to prevent customers who were designated as “utility hardship” from being switched to electric suppliers. Just this year, Governor Lamont signed Public Act 21-117, which prohibits cancellation fees for residential customers who are under contract with an electric supplier and strengthens PURA’s oversight over electric suppliers.

For further guidance on energy assistance programs available in Connecticut, please call 2-1-1. Please share this information with anyone that might need some help.

Ringing the Bell for the Salvation

by State Rep. Ben McGorty, (R)
House District 122

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I’m excited to write to you and share that I will once again be Ringing the Bell this year for the Salvation Army to help raise money for local families in need.

Every year, public contributions to the iconic Salvation Army Red Kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at fighting hunger and homelessness in our local community.

My colleagues Trumbull State Reps. Laura Devlin and Dave Rutigliano and I are excited to continue this tradition again this year. We will be manning the Red Kettle on Dec. 15th from 5:30 p m -6:30 p m outside Stop and Shop in Trumbull.

We hope to see you there! If you cannot make it in person, you can also donate online or by texting ‘CTREP’ to 71777.

Help Available for Winter Utilities

by State Representative Joe Gresko (D)
District 121

Dear Neighbor,

With the temperatures dropping and prices to heat and energize our homes rising, this can mean a strain on an already limited budget. Thankfully, there is help available.

If you are struggling to pay for electric, water, or other utilities, you can apply for assistance through Operation Fuel. You can also contact your utility agencies about payment plans and ask about getting coded for Hardship or Winter Protection to protect against winter shutoffs. Please go to the website on the attached flyer for more specific details and information.

In addition to Operation Fuel, there are other resources available to help reduce the costs of your energy usage, including:

  • Visiting com, allows residents to compare electric rates from third-party suppliers and see eligibility for certain rebates;
  • Apply for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program;
  • Apply for energy assistance through the UniteCTprogram

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.

Small Businesses now able to sign up for Access Health

by State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th District

Dear Neighbor,

From now until December 15th, small businesses in Connecticut can obtain group health insurance regardless of the number of employees who enroll thanks to Access Health CT’s Employee Participation Waiver Period. Any local small business with 50 employees or less that is not currently enrolled through Access Health CT Small Business can participate.

By waiving the minimum number of employees typically required to enroll in a small group health insurance plan, Access Health CT is offering some relief for local small businesses, particularly those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and peace of mind for their employees.

From furloughing employees to laying off non-essential staff, many small businesses in our community were forced to make tough decisions to offset the economic impact of the pandemic and may no longer qualify for the group health insurance plans outside of the waiver period because they don’t have enough employees who elect to participate. The Employment Participation Waiver Period can provide some relief for small businesses that may be struggling to provide healthcare coverage to their employees.

To learn more about how to make health insurance possible for your small business employees, visit AccessHealthCTSmallBiz.com.

Letters to the Editor

by State Representative Joe Gresko (D)
121st District

Dear Neighbor,

On Friday, I was thrilled to be present for the ribbon cutting of the new Exit 33 interchange for I-95 in Stratford.

The project, which took several years to be approved, designed, and completed, added an on-ramp in the northbound lane direction for Exit 33 and off-ramp in the southbound lane direction, creating a full interchange.

I know that the completion of this project is a relief to many Stratford residents and businesses. Projects such as this not only help ease congestion, but they also play a major role in helping Connecticut rise 15 spots in recent years in national rankings of the condition of each state’s highway system. I am proud that I was able to play a role in ensuring this project was completed for Stratford residents and visitors.

Stratford has new exit 33 on-ramp after decades-long fight

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.

Ask The Registrar

Stratford Post Election Edition

By Jim Simon
Democratic Registrar
Your place to get Election questions answered in Stratford

Q: Did more people vote in Stratford this year than usual? 

You have to compare apples to apples. In 2021, 36.3 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in Stratford, up from 33.3 percent in the last mayoral election in 2017.

But 72 percent of registered voters cast a ballot last year in the presidential election, which always attracts more voters.

Q: Do people still write-in the names of “candidates” like Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus, or their husband? 

A: In Connecticut, we don’t count write-in votes unless a person officially registers ahead of time as a write-in candidate. Nobody in Stratford registered as a write-in, so we have no official count.

During three election recounts held Nov. 4, I saw thousands of recounted ballots from Districts 3, 5 and 6.  I don’t recall seeing many – if any — write-in votes.

Q: Did most Stratford voters use Absentee Ballots in 2021?   

A:  About 17% of the votes cast Nov. 2nd  – some 2,159 votes out of a total of 12,865 – were from people using Absentee Ballots. Public records show 1,139 came from registered Democrats, 336 from Republicans, 670 from Unaffiliated voters, and 14 from those registered with a minor party.

Given the strong GOP showing, the 3-1 Democratic edge suggests the relaxed rules on ABs did NOT significantly increase Democratic turnout. Instead, many Democrats may have simply voted early instead of going to the polls Nov. 2nd.

Q: Can you really register to vote on Election Day, and then immediately cast a ballot? 

A: Connecticut law mandates that every town must offer Election Day Registration (EDR). In Stratford, you can come to Town Hall, show a photo ID and proof of residency, fill out paperwork, and then cast a ballot at Town Hall regardless of where you live in town.  Some 23 town residents took advantage of the option — out of 12,865 votes cast.   Only EDR voters can cast a ballot at Town Hall.

Q: Are there really twice as many registered Democrats in town as Republicans? 

A: As of Nov. 17, 2021, there were 13,348 registered Democrats and 6,351 Republicans, almost a perfect 2-1 ratio. But there also are 15,260 Unaffiliated voters, and in the 2021 mayoral election, they appeared to largely support the Republican incumbent Mayor Laura Hoydick. (There also are 480 voters registered with one of the minor political parties.)

REMINDER: “Independent” is the name of an official political party in Connecticut. If you don’t want to be affiliated with a formal party, you must register as “Unaffiliated”. You can check your current party status at: https://portaldir.ct.gov/sots/LookUp.aspx  If you want to change your status, contact us at Registrar@townofstratford.com

Stratford Registrar James Simon, (D), worked as a political reporter for 10 years with The Associated Press, then taught courses like political journalism for 18 years as a professor and dean at Fairfield University. He was elected as the Democratic Registrar of Voters in Stratford in November 2020.

Mores Questions?  Please send them to: jsimon@townofstratford.com

This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford

 

Blowout by Republicans

Municipal Elections Results

 

Board of Education

Christopher Cormier

Christopher Cormier is an elementary school educator in Bridgeport who believes his experience in the classroom, his previous experience in project management, and his community service activities make him an ideal candidate for election to the Stratford Board of Education on November 2nd.

Chris is a Hartford County transplant of 23 years.  He and his husband Jonathan lived in Bridgeport before moving into their home in District 2 16 years ago.  They are raising their 4 energetic and unique boys:  Jackson age 7, Ryan age 9, Steven age 11, and Aaron age 12.  All of the boys have attended Stratford Public Schools since they were Franklin Preschoolers, and are students now at Franklin, Chapel and Wooster.

Chris is a second career teacher.  He has just entered his 10th year as an educator and currently teaches 3rd grade at Edison Elementary School in Bridgeport. After a career in project management and commercial real estate, Chris decided to make a major life change and pursue his passion of being an educator.

In 2007, Chris earned his Masters of Science degree in Elementary Education at the University of Bridgeport. Chris also holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Management, Economics & Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University, and an Associates of Science degree in Finance & Banking from Norwalk Community College.

He is also a graduate of Parents SEE (Parents Seeking Educational Excellence)-Cohort 6.  This gave Chris the chance to consider how his voice could be used as a tool for change, and enabled him to advocate better for his children and his students.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Chris serves as the Bridgeport Education Association Building Delegate, Building Systems Operator (IT contact), Parent Advisory Council (PAC) member, School Governance Committee (SGC) member and has served on the board of the Franklin Elementary School PTO for the past 5+ years.

He is also co-chair of the Stratford Democratic Town Committee’s (SDTC) Lord’s Kitchen Planning & Serving Committee, which serves 75-100 hungry Stratford friends on the DTC’s assigned days each year.

“Our platform is based on transparency and access.” Chris says.  “We believe that there is a hindrance in the sharing of information coming from the BOE.  We are in a unique situation where we have a new superintendent.  This gives us the opportunity to foster a strong working relationship with the administration that is built on collaboration and clear expectations and the sharing of requested information.  For too long, the relationship between the BOE and the administration was reversed.  The Board and Administration should collaborate, but it should be clear that the Administration answers to the Board, and not the other way around.”

4 issues that Chris has zeroed in on as some of his main concerns are:

  • Ensuring equity across the District.
  • The need for better advocacy for Special Education
  • Investing in Teachers and their classrooms.
  • Revamping the current BOE meeting protocols by allowing members of the public to speak on any issue they need to during public comments, not limited to the meeting agenda.

Contact Chris at chriscormier4stratfordboe@gmail.com