Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

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

Dear Neighbor,

Thousands of Connecticut residents have dedicated their careers to public service. The federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program recognizes this choice with complete student loan cancellation after 10 years of public service work and loan payments. Teachers, nurses, government and nonprofit employees, veterans and others are among those eligible for this program.

The temporary PSLF waiver is a time-limited change to PSLF rules that allows borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify. This one-time opportunity ends on October 31st, which is a reminder to act now and complete an application at: studentaid.gov/pslf.

For additional information, including how to get help with your application, you can also visit pslfCT.org.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-0363 or email me at Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Stratford Crier Voter Guide

State Offices and Candidates

Source: CT Insider
Editor’s Note: ALL Stratford Candidates running for office have been contacted and asked to submit information for publication.

Governor

In many respects, the political environment in 2022 is a complete reversal from the last race. Lamont enjoys the highest approval ratings of any Democratic governor in the nation, buoyed both by his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s overall rosy financial outlook.

Meanwhile Donald Trump has left the White House, and while he continues to cast his shadow over much of the GOP, voters now have a Democratic presidential administration to complain about from problems such as inflation, crime and the cost of gas.

Stefanowski has sought to tap into those feelings of frustration this time around, running a campaign almost solely focused on his economic message. The two candidates are joined by Rob Hotaling, endorsed by the Independent Party over Stefanowski.

Ned Lamont

DEMOCRAT

Before being elected the 89th governor of Connecticut in 2018, Ned Lamont had two opportunities to introduce himself to the state’s voters with unsuccessful runs for the Senate in 2006 and governor in 2010. A little over a year after taking office, however, any expectations for how his administration may have played out under normal conditions were tossed aside as the pandemic forced Lamont and other governors to shift their focus toward preventing hospitals from overflowing and a massive number of their constituents from dying. While Connecticut faced substantial challenges early on as a result of its proximity to New York City, the overall rate of deaths attributed to the virus is about the same as the U.S. average, and Lamont has been credited with overseeing one of the most effective vaccination rollouts in the country. The Greenwich businessperson is again choosing to mostly self-fund his campaign, beginning with $6 million from his vast fortune. Lamont is cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.

Running mate: Susan Bysiewicz is seeking a second term as lieutenant governor alongside Lamont. Bysiewicz previously served as a state representative and secretary of the state.

Bob Stefanowski

REPUBLICAN

Bob Stefanowski, a former corporate executive from Madison, has a much broader platform in his second run for governor. He has pitched a $2 billion tax relief plan that includes expanding and extending the state’s gas tax holiday and allowing families earning less than $400,000 per year to deduct up to $10,000 from their taxable state incomes. He’s also called for doing away with 200 of the state’s so-called nuisance fees, and has said, if elected, he will restore law enforcement’s trust in government by bringing back qualified immunity – a controversial provision of the state’s police accountability law passed in 2020. He’s accused Lamont of misrepresenting his stance on abortion, saying he is pro-choice and would uphold Connecticut’s 1990 law codifying abortion.
Running mate: Laura Devlin, who has served as a state representative since 2015, is running alongside Stefanowski. Devlin represents the towns of Fairfield and Trumbull while serving on the legislature’s education, finance, revenue and bonding and transportation committees.

Robert Hotaling

INDEPENDENT

Rob Hotaling is a Senior Vice President at Webster Bank and, according to his campaign website, previously led a tech start-up during the Dot-Com Era and served as chief technology officer for several corporations. Hotaling’s policy platform includes the repeal or reduction of a number of taxes — such as the business property tax, motor vehicle tax, income tax and sales tax — along with more traditionally liberal positions such as support for abortion rights and the elimination of cash bail for non-violent crimes. Hotaling lives in Cheshire.

Running mate: Stewart “Chip” Beckett joins Hotaling on the campaign trail. Beckett is a former Glastonbury town councilor. He switched his party from Republican to Independent in the last year.

U.S. Senate

It seems as if there are two separate U.S. Senate races going on in Connecticut. The reelection campaign of Sen. Richard Blumenthal is one with multiple public events every day of the week in the kind of frenetic schedule that dates to his 20 years serving as state attorney general. Then there’s the campaign of conservative Republican challenger Leora Levy of Greenwich, a former sugar commodities trader who rode an endorsement from Donald Trump into an easy primary victory over former House minority leader Themis Klarides of Madison, who had won the party endorsement at its May convention. A Cuban-born, deep-pocketed member of the Republican National Committee, although she calls herself a “political outsider,” Levy does few public events.

Richard Blumenthal

DEMOCRAT

Blumenthal is seeking a third six-year term, but only since the election of President Joe Biden has he and other Democrats been in the majority, which succeeded in pushing through the American Rescue Plan Act and a bipartisan gun-safety reform that was spearheaded by Connecticut’s other senator, Chris Murphy. A longtime Greenwich resident, Blumenthal is basically ignoring GOP challenger Leora Levy. Traditionally a big vote-getter, in 2016 Blumenthal scored 1,008,714 votes to 552,621 over Republican challenger Dan Carter, a former state representative. First elected attorney general in 1990, Blumenthal was instrumental in defending Connecticut’s first ban on military style rifles, and won billions of dollars in the historic 1998 national settlement with the tobacco industry. Blumenthal is cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.

Leora R. Levy

REPUBLICAN

A 65-year-old former sugar trader on the commodities market, Levy’s campaign regularly issues news releases attempting to link Blumenthal and President Joe Biden with “the far left.”  Unlike the usual political wisdom that recommends running to the right to win a Republican primary, then moving to the center during the summer-into-fall campaign for the general election, Levy, seeking her first elective office, is doubling down on her ties to Trump politics, and recently boasted of a personal endorsement from a leader of one of the state’s anti-mask, anti-vaccine fringe groups. She regularly attacks Blumenthal as a “37-year career politician.”

U.S. House of Representatives

3rd Congressional District

Rosa DeLauro has been the U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 3rd congressional district since 1991. Seeking reelection for a 17th term, DeLauro has consistently captured 58 percent or more of the vote. This year, DeLauro faces off against Republican candidate Lesley DeNardis, Green Party candidate Justin Paglino, and Independent Party candidate Amy F. Chai (also endorsed by the Libertarian Party). The district is in central Connecticut and encompasses New Haven and surrounding towns, including Branford, Hamden, Milford, and Woodbridge.

Rosa L. DeLauro

DEMOCRAT

DeLauro is seeking reelection for a 17th term. In 16 consecutive reelection wins, she has captured no less than 58% of the vote. Additionally, DeLauro served as chair of the House Appropriations Committee for the 117th Congress — the second woman to hold the position. She supports abortion rights, stronger gun regulations, and health policy issues. Regarding health policy issues, she leans into women’s health matters and sponsoring and introducing related bills.

Lesley DeNardis

REPUBLICAN

Former professor and lifelong Connecticut resident, Republican-endorsed DeNardis, if successful, would serve in the same district as her father did in the early ’80s. Her mission is to “restore the principles that made our country great,” which includes strengthening borders, supporting law enforcement, and spotlighting “wasteful and unnecessary” federal spending. DeNardis previously ran for state representative in the 88th district, but was unsuccessful.

Amy F. Chai

LIBERTARIAN

Chai, a registered Libertarian, carries a dual endorsement. Chai is a physician, licensed epidemiologist, and author who also won a U.S. Presidential Teacher award from the Obama administration for her achievements in homeschooling. She is focused on promoting unity through the Enfranchise America Act, which will maximize voter access and election transparency, along with the Viewpoint Discrimination Act focused on protecting personal viewpoints, especially in the workplace. Environmental issues to be addressed at the community level are also on her agenda. Chai is cross-endorsed by the Independent Party.

Justin Paglino

GREEN

Endorsed by the Green Party in 2020 and again this election, Paglino is seeking to oust DeLauro, once again anchoring his platform with advocating for comprehensive single-payer universal and free healthcare. Paglino also hopes to promote clean energy via educating people on the consequences of “not taking on the challenges of sustainability seriously.” In the 2020 election, he received less than 2% of the vote. Paglino is also an M.D. and holds a PhD in Virology.

 

Statewide Races

Secretary of the State

The open race to fill the state’s most senior office overseeing elections — along with a number of other administrative duties — was created when three-term incumbent Denise Merrill announced last June that she would retire from politics. That decision kicked off a crowded primary election, out of which emerged state Rep. Stephanie Thomas, D- Norwalk, and Republican Dominic Rapini. Once considered an afterthought among statewide races, the Secretary of the State’s office has emerged with newfound relevance to many voters following unprecedented attempts to question the results of the 2020 election. No Republican has been elected to the office since the mid-1990s. The current office-holder, Mark Kohler, was appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont in June after Merrill stepped down early to care for her ailing husband.

Stephanie Thomas

DEMOCRAT

In her first term serving as a state representative from Norwalk, Westport and Wilton, Stephanie Thomas sponsored legislation to expand absentee voting and implement automatic voter registration. She has taken a similar tone on the campaign trail, championing issues such as state constitutional amendment to allow for early voting. Thomas has also taken shots at Rapini’s history of questioning election results, telling supporters at her primary-night victory party in August that she hoped to be an “alternative to conspiracy theories and the sowing of misinformation.” Outside the statehouse, Thomas lives in Norwalk and is the owner of a non-profit consulting business. Thomas is cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.

Dominic Rapini

REPUBLICAN

Dominic Rapini, a salesman from Branford, first stepped foot onto the political stage with a run for U.S. Senate in 2018, losing in the Republican primary. According to his campaign website, delayed results and reports of wet ballots during that election “fueled suspicion and mistrust of the results,” for Rapini, even as other unsuccessful candidates stood by the results. Two years later, Rapini was involved with a group that was admonished by state election officials after repeatedly filing baseless claims of election fraud. Rapini has since clarified his belief that Joe Biden is the “duly elected” president, and spent much of his campaign for secretary of state opposing voicing opposition to early voting and an expansion of absentee voting.

Cynthia R. Jennings

INDEPENDENT

Cynthia Jennings, a civil rights attorney, was forced to step down from her seat on the Hartford City Council in 2018 after switching her affiliation from the Working Families Party to the Democratic Party, the Hartford Courant reported. She announced her decision to run for the Secretary of the State under the Independent Party label in February. According to her campaign website, she has served as an elections monitor for the Secretary of State’s office and she told the New Haven Independent earlier this year that she supports implementing a ranked-choice voting system to boost the chances of third-party candidates.

State Treasurer

Democrat Erick Russell, an attorney from New Haven who specializes in public financing, and state Rep. Harry Arora, a Greenwich Republican, are vying to be the state’s next Treasurer. The job, which entails managing Connecticut’s $45 billion in pension assets, is open following the surprise decision by Treasurer Shawn Wooden earlier this year to not seek re-election to a second term.

Erick Russell

DEMOCRAT

Erick Russell, a former vice-chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, emerged victorious in a three-way race for treasurer in the August primary. Russell has focused his campaign on using the power of the treasurer’s office to advance social causes such as his proposal for a Connecticut Safe Harbor Fund. The fund would offer financial assistance to people who come to Connecticut for legally protected abortion care. He wants to partner with state treasurers across the country to create a national fund. He has called for “bringing greater stability, equity and fairness to Connecticut’s finances.” Russell is cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.

Harry Arora

REPUBLICAN

Harry Arora, a first-term state legislator and his party’s endorsed candidate, was unopposed in the August primary. Arora, who runs his own Greenwich-based hedge fund, AlphaStrat LLC, has highlighted his background as best suited for the job, saying he will yield better returns on the state’s pension investments. He’s also called for reigning in the amount of debt the state issues to fund capital projects. Arora sued the Independent Party of Connecticut after failing to receive the minor party’s endorsement.

Jennifer Baldwin

INDEPENDENT

Jennifer Baldwin, a member of the Guilford school board, received the Independent Party’s endorsement to run for state Treasurer.

Joanna Laiscell

LIBERTARIAN

Joanna Laiscell, former executive director of financial management for Hartford Public Schools, is the Libertarian Party’s nominee for state Treasurer.

Comptroller

The comptroller’s office is open this November after the departure of incumbent Kevin Lembo, who resigned at the end of last year due to health issues. Vying to fill the position are Sean Scanlon, a state legislator nominated by the Democratic Party, Independent Party and Working Families Party, as well as Republican Mary Fay, a three-term member of West Hartford’s town council. Connecticut’s comptroller is responsible for providing accounting services, preparing financial reports and administering benefits to state employees, among other responsibilities.

Sean Scanlon

DEMOCRAT

Scanlon is a four-term state legislator representing Guilford and Branford, who currently chairs the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. He cites legislative accomplishments including a cap on insulin costs and a bipartisan state budget in 2021. Outside of the legislature, Scanlon also serves as executive director of Tweed-New Haven Airport. Scanlon is cross-endorsed by both the Independent and Working Families parties.

Mary Fay

REPUBLICAN

Fay, a financial services executive, currently serves on West Hartford’s town council, as well as the town’s library board. In her bid to be Connecticut’s next comptroller, she touts her “fierce independence” and says her priorities include “restoring integrity, tightening financial controls, increasing efficiency and improving accuracy of reporting and forecasting.”

Attorney General

Four years after his election as Connecticut’s attorney general, Democrat William Tong is a front-runner to win a second term. His opponents include Republican Jessica Kordas, a trial lawyer from Norwalk, as well as two candidates from smaller parties. The winner of November’s election will be Connecticut’s chief civil legal officer, responsible for representing state agencies and protecting the rights of the state’s residents.

William Tong

DEMOCRAT

Tong, the incumbent attorney general, was first elected in 2018 after emerging from a competitive primary and defeating a Republican opponent by six points. He spent his first term targeting the pharmaceutical industry and major social media corporations and frequently confronting then-President Donald Trump. If reelected, he has pledged to continue many of the fights he began over the past four years, including against companies he blames for contributing to the ongoing opioid epidemic. Before being elected attorney general, Tong spent 12 years in the state legislature, representing Darien and part of Stamford. Tong is cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.

Jessica Kordas

REPUBLICAN

Kordas, a trial lawyer from Norwalk who has never held elected office and pitches herself as a “political outsider,” says she grew interested in politics while advocating against masking requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As attorney general, she says she would stand for “parents’ rights,” “freedom of speech” and “a return to integrity and accountability.” If elected, Kordas would be Connecticut’s first Republican attorney general in more than 60 years.

A.P. Pascarella

INDEPENDENT

Pascarella is an attorney from Greenwich, where he is a member of the 230-person Representative Town Meeting, the body that votes on the town budget.

Ken Krayeske

GREEN

Krayeske, a journalist-turned-civil rights attorney, previously ran for Congress in 2010, earning 1.2 percent of the vote in a race against Democrat John Larson. He touts several significant legal victories, including a class-action lawsuit that led the state to test all incarcerated people for Hepatitis C.

Ballot Measures

Early Voting

In addition to voting on candidates across the state and in local communities, Connecticut voters will face a question: Should the state allow early voting? Actually, the specific questions will be as follows:

 “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?”

The question is simple, relatively speaking. Certainly, it is simpler than the question posed on the same topic in 2014. That year, early voting was rejected by voters. Early voting allows registered voters to vote prior to Election Day in-person.

Why early voting?

The argument in favor of early voting is simple: It allows people to vote when it makes the most sense for them. If someone can’t get access to an absentee ballot and struggles to get to the polling place due to family, work or other obligations, they can go on a different day. The benefits could also include smoother Election Days with fewer votes being cast and shorter lines. Only four states in the country do not allow early voting, Connecticut being one.

Why not early voting?

Some believe early voting could actually lead to lower overall voter turnout. In short, people could take the convenience for granted, possibly put off voting and then can’t get to the polls on Election Day. There are also concerns that voters could cast a ballot early and could come across information afterward that makes them want to change their vote for a specific candidate. There are also concerns over fraud, although those have not necessarily been proven.

State gives $1,087,343 to Stratford

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

Dear Neighbor,

On October 1st, the state dispersed a reimbursement grant of $1,087,343 to Stratford, supplementing our town because of our recent motor vehicle mill rate reduction.

Among other state tax cuts, there was a reduction of our motor vehicle mill rate to 32.46. Stratford has an overall mill rate of 39.47.

The reimbursement received by Stratford makes the town whole and makes good on the state’s commitment.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-0363 or email me at Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Student Loan Debt Relief Applications Now Open

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

Dear Neighbor,

Earlier this summer, the Biden Administration announced student loan debt relief, and I’m pleased to share that the application process is now open!

The application takes about 5 minutes to complete and is available in English and Spanish. Applicants do not need to log in or provide any documents. Borrowers will have until December 31, 2023 to apply.

Nearly 40 million Americans will be eligible for this relief. Individuals making less than $125,000 per year and couples earning less than $250,000 could qualify for up to $10,000 in relief.

Borrowers who received a Pell Grant are eligible for up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness.

The debt relief only applies to loan balances you had before June 30, 2022. New loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2022 will not be eligible for relief.

Student loan debt has anchored millions of Americans, preventing them from building wealth, contributing to their families, and engaging with their community. Borrowers’ budgets have been further constrained by economic pressures resulting from the pandemic, geopolitical conflict, supply chain disruptions, and inflation.

This relief is a financial lifeline that could help many individuals and families across our state build a more stable future for themselves.

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

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-0363 or email me at Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Child Care Workers Bonus

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

Dear Neighbor,

As a thank you for their tireless work, Connecticut childcare workers will soon receive bonus payments. Governor Lamont released $70 million in state funding for the Wage Supports for Early Childhood Educators program. Through this program, full time childcare employees will receive $1,000 and part time employees will receive $400.

Individuals who work in licensed centers, group childcare homes, and family child care homes, as well as license-exempt programs that receive school readiness or child day care contract funds are eligible for this bonus.

Childcare program operators will be required to apply for the funds and then disburse the payments to their childcare staff. The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood will contact eligible childcare programs and provide them with additional information. To learn more go to:
https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2022/10-2022/Governor-Lamont-Announces-Appreciation-Bonus-Payments-for-Connecticut-Child-Care-Workers?utm_source=Unknown+List&utm_campaign=693cc2c327

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-0363 or email me at Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Stratford Removed From Distressed Cities List!!!!

Stratford’s economic and fiscal strength have improved in recent years and the town is no longer listed as distressed, according to the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

The state annually tracks towns and cities in areas including population growth, per capita income, change in tax base, and age of housing stock, and then uses the information to rank the municipalities’ need for state funding on a list of 25 Distressed Municipalities. Stratford’s town government, residents and businesses together have shown such improvements compared to other towns and cities that, after two years on the list, Stratford is no longer on it in 2022.

Stratford improved its ranking in a variety of factors measured by the state. In particular, Per Capita Income increased by 2.6% between 2019 and 2020, the population has grown by almost 1,000 people over the past decade, and the percentage of residents living below the Poverty level dropped to 7.3%.

The strength of Stratford’s economy is indicated also by the Grand List, which is the value of all taxable property – residential and commercial. Here, the state sees that Stratford’s Grand List in 2021 surpassed $5 billion for the first time, which reflects growth of 3.3% compared to 2020 and 5% compared to 2019.

In some areas of the state’s measurement, Stratford’s numbers were little changed, according to the state. Even in these areas, Stratford’s ranking may have improved relative to other towns where numbers declined.

Mayor Laura R. Hoydick and the town’s legislative representatives in Hartford welcomed the news of Stratford’s elevated standing among the state’s towns and cities.

“Stratford’s improved fiscal and economic rating in the state is a clear sign that the collective work of my administration, local businesses and our townspeople is paying dividends,” Mayor Hoydick said. “Our community’s economic growth, combined with our prudent management of the Town, has allowed us to reduce the tax rate for four years in a row. We anticipate further improvements in the coming year as well.”

Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly said, “This is a testament to the people of Stratford, our job creators, our workforce, and our local and state leaders who support our town. Growing up in Stratford and raising my family here, I know firsthand how wonderful our community is. We celebrate our diversity, we support our neighbors, we care for our environment, and we work hard to give our kids an even better future, with jobs, opportunity, and prosperity. At the same time, I know it’s not easy for you and your family right now as we face historic inflation and unaffordability. In Connecticut, income growth is not keeping up with the cost of living, prices keep climbing, and assistance for necessities like home heating oil for seniors has been cut. The change in designation for our town recognizes important progress locally, but much more must be done across our state so that no family finds themselves in distress.”

State Representative Joe Gresko: “In recent years, Stratford has become home to many new residents and businesses, because they know that our town is worth investing in. Recently, we topped a WalletHub list of top cities in the U.S., and advancing beyond the distressed municipality list not only recognizes the actual potential of our city, but it also shows that we are on solid footing for the future ahead.”

Rep. Ben McGorty added, “It is such great news to see that Stratford has moved off the list of distressed municipalities in Connecticut. These improvements in our town are a testament to years of dedicated community leaders and residents contributing to make Stratford a great home for residents, a space for businesses to thrive, and for visitors to enjoy all that we have to offer. Thank you to our state and local leaders for their hard work serving Stratford.”

Rep. Phil Young agreed. “The State of Connecticut and the Town of Stratford have made a concerted effort to transform our community. We have made changes that benefit our town now, and others that have set us up for success in the future. I am thrilled with the progress that has been made and hope we continue to keep innovating.”

Water Outage Notice for District 1

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

Dear Neighbor,

I wanted to be sure you were aware of a scheduled water outage Monday, October 17th at 1st Avenue in Stratford. The outage will begin at 9 A.M. and is expected to last 4-6 hours.

Please note that during and after the outage event, some customers may experience discolored water. You may want to use stored water for drinking and cooking, and delay clothes washing until water is clear. Run your cold-water faucet until the water appears clear, prior to resuming use for these purposes.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-0363 or email me at Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Something to Brag Aboutt

Stratford Ranked Among Best Small Cities in the United States

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

Dear Neighbor,

News to be proud of!  A new report from WalletHub has ranked Stratford in the top 10 percentile of best small cities in America.

The report compared more than 1,300 cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 based on 43 indicators of livability – focusing on cities’ affordability, economic health, education & health, quality of life, and safety.

Stratford earned a total score of 67, scoring the following in those five key focus areas:

Affordability – 631

Economic Health – 1125

Education and Health – 44

Quality of Life – 797

Safety – 295

To check out the complete report from WalletHub and see how Stratford compared to other small cities across the country, click here:

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-small-cities-to-live-in/16581?utm_source=Gresko&utm_campaign=335c22b047-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_10_07_06_43&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfbfe1abba-335c22b047-48550857

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-0363 or email me at Joseph.Gresko@cga.ct.gov.

Joseph P. Gresko

Inside Look: The Early Voting question on the Nov. 8th ballot

Ask The Registrar

Your place for answers about voting and local elections in Stratford

By Registrar Of Voters James Simon (D). October 2022

Q: They want us to vote on a Constitutional amendment on Nov. 8th, but I know nothing about it. Explain, please.

In the Fall 2022 election voters are being asked: “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting.”

An estimated 44 states – red and blue alike – now allow early, no-excuse voting, whether by expanded mail-in ballots, going to a centralized polling place and casting a ballot before the official Election Day, or some other method.

The Connecticut ballot question is needed because the state constitution specifically refers to “… the meetings of the electors in the respective towns held quadrennially…”  That language, and other references, have been interpreted as referring to a “specific election day” and limiting early voting to absentee ballots that can only be used under specific circumstances.

Nationwide, early voting is far more popular than you may think. One survey found that in the 2020 presidential election, 69% of participants cast their vote by mail or early in-person vs. 30% casting their vote in-person on Election Day. The U.S. Census Bureau reported the share of early and absentee voting grew from 10.5% in 1996 to 69.4% in 2020, according to Ballotpedia.com, which is the source for most of the information here on other states.

Q: Given the popularity elsewhere, is the Connecticut question expected to pass?

It’s unclear. In 2014, Connecticut voters defeated a constitutional amendment that would have authorized the state legislature to allow early voting in the state and remove the restrictions on absentee voting. The question was defeated by a 52-48 percent margin.

This year, widespread support for the question has emerged among elected leaders, voting experts like former Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill, and good government groups like the League of Women Voters.

Q: Why do they support it?

Supporters say the move will make voting more accessible to every eligible Connecticut citizen and increase turnout.   Spreading out voters across multiple days reduces the risk of long lines on Election Day. It reduces the chance of exposure to COVID at polling places. Other states have learned how to implement it without additional cost. At a time when too many states are making it harder to vote, Connecticut has a chance to be a leader in expanding the right to vote and making our democracy accessible to all citizens, supporters say.

Q: What do opponents say?

A survey by Ballotpedia found little organized opposition. State Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R) has said the bill was too broad. She said, “[Early voting] must be done in the right way, there must be protections in place and there must be checks and balances in there. Until we do that– or at least make a step in the right direction to do that, I could not support this.”

In the legislative debate, the question did attract support from some Republican lawmakers.  House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora (R) has said he is in favor of early voting, but not expanding the eligibility for absentee ballots.

Q: If approved, what will early voting look like in Connecticut?

When the Legislature approved the ballot question, lawmakers followed a two-step process of

  1. a) first seeking voter approval, and, if approved, then
  2. b) meeting thereafter and deciding what form of early voting would be best for Connecticut.

There is a range of options. In some states, voters can go to a central polling location for, say, a week before Election Day and cast a ballot. In Oregon, all voting is done by mail-in ballot.

Any Connecticut change is not expected to take effect until November 2024.

More Questions? Please send them to Registrar Jim Simon; jsimon@townofstratford.com. This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford. (Vol. 2, No. 10; Oct. 2022)

Kevin Kelly Endorsed by CT Retired Teachers

Senator Kevin Kelly (R), 21st Senate District

The Association for Retired Teachers of Connecticut has endorsed Senator Kevin Kelly who is seeking reelection to represent the 21st State Senate District including Monroe, Seymour, Shelton, and Stratford.

Kelly was recognized for his commitment to the issues that are important to retired teachers, which includes the improvement of education in Connecticut schools.

“Teachers give so much of themselves to enrich and teach our children,” said Sen. Kevin Kelly. “They wear many hats in the classroom and are crucial to our kids’ growth and learning throughout their lives. Our children deserve the best education, and we cannot deliver that without our talented and dedicated teachers. I support and respect our teachers and am honored to receive this endorsement from those who have served our children well and continue to advocate for the best in classrooms across the state.”

The Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut (ARTC) is a non-profit organization of retired teachers representing 6,000 members/affiliates and advocate for 32,000 CT retired teachers. ARTC promotes the economic, professional, and social well-being of Connecticut retired teachers and advocates for the continuous improvement of education in Connecticut schools.

Senator Kevin Kelly is also endorsed by the Connecticut State Building Trades Council, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 478, the Connecticut Realtors, the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police, the Connecticut chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), and has been recognized by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association for a 100 percent pro-jobs voting record on key bills identified as critical to the state’s job creators, workforce, affordability, and overall economic growth.

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. Prior to working in private practice, Kevin Kelly worked as an investigator for the Department of Social Services for over 13 years. He is Director Emeritus of the Southwest Connecticut Agency on Aging. He and his spouse Cindy live in Stratford and have four children and seven grandchildren.