“Let’s Talk”

By Chris Green
Chris Green is running for CT State Senate in November 2022 for the 21st District

One thing I have learned from knocking on thousands of doors and talking to hundreds of voters is that, despite the popular narratives in the media and on social media about increasing political divides, many of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Residents love our state, but they see things that should be changed. They see room for improvement across both sides of the aisle. They want solutions and compromises, not mud-slinging and gridlock.

Most voters also want to make informed decisions with their vote; they understand who they elect impacts the quality of their lives. But with all the different levels of government, it can be difficult to keep up with who your state legislators are – let alone how they voted or where they stand on key issues.

My name is Chris Green and I’m running for State Senate in the 21st District encompassing Shelton, most of Stratford, and parts of Seymour and Monroe. I’m running against State Sen. Kevin Kelly. While we have some common ground, there are important differences in our beliefs.

More than ever, it is important for public servants and political figures to embrace transparency and lead by example to show that this country has a path towards a brighter future through lively but respectful public discourse. I sent Sen. Kelly an email on September 2nd inviting him privately to work with me to arrange for this opportunity. As I haven’t heard back, I am making the same plea now, publicly.

Dialogue is the foundation of democracy. I invite Sen. Kelly to reach me at cgreen4senate@gmail.com so we can work together to create an opportunity for the voters to make an informed choice on November 8th. Voters can find more information about my campaign at www.cgreen4senate.com.

60 years 4 judges

By Dave Mullane

Ballotpedia says in order to be a probate judge in Connecticut you need be 18, live in the district and you have to retire at age 70. Guidance counselors should be recommending this to seniors unsure about going to college, “have you considered being probate judge you are 18 and it’s very lucrative plus no student loan debt.”

From 1962 until today Stratford has had 4 probate judges, they were Democrat Tom Coughlin, 4 terms 1962 to 1978. Coughlin first won in 1962 by defeating incumbent Joe Knott. Coughlin last run for the office was in 1974 was against Republican Marilyn Pearson (Pearson was a 3-term state Rep and the only Republican to ever win the 121st district) 1974 was a close race and in 1978 Coughlin didn’t run for reelection. The Probate position was wide open.

1978 saw Republican Paul Kurmay face off against Democrat Wilfred Rodie. Kurmay won and would continue to win for a total of 9 terms (36 years) holding the spot from 1978 until 2014.

Kurmay was the terminator of candidates taking out the Democrats. In 1982 he beat Wilfred Rodie again; in 1986 Bill Carroll; in 1990 both Republicans and Democrats nominated him, and it was the only time Kurmay was beaten was when he ran as a Democrat and the Republican Kurmay beat himself by over 3000 votes.

In 1994 he was unopposed, in 1998 and 2002 he beat Kent Miller; in 2006 he was unopposed. In 2010 on his final run, he beat Kent Miller one last time. After 36 years in office Kurmay actually aged out of position and had to retire at 70 years old.

In 2014 the Probate spot is open and Republican Kurt Ahlberg beat Democrat Kent Miller. In 2018 incumbent Ahlberg was beaten by current judge Democrat Max Rosenberg. This is the first time since 1962 that a sitting probate judge was defeated for reelection in Stratford. Had Ahlberg been reelected he would’ve aged out before completing a second term so that fact may have helped Max In his win.

This year incumbent judge Democrat Rosenberg is being challenged by Republican Lisa Knopf who only recently established residency and registered to vote in Stratford this May in order to run against Max this November.

Probate races do not get CEP funding, it is up to the candidates to raise and spend their own funds. In 2018 Max was outspent by Ahlberg 4 to 1, and he pulled off an amazing win. Max seems to have a lot of Republican support so it is surprising the SRTC put someone up. It will be interesting to see this race play out.

Probate is the highest paid elected position in Stratford at $146,000 a year for a 4-year term which comes to $584,000 for the winner who gets to be their own boss with a paid for staff and office.

Will 2022 be another case of one and done or will Max try to go for the Kurmay 9 term record?

Letters to the Editor

Editor’s Note: Dr. David Chess, a member of the Inland Wetlands Committee and an avid environmental supporter, recently reached out to Kelly Kerrigan about the downing of trees at Shakespeare. In his conversation with Kerrigan he questioned the clear cutting of trees, and called upon Kerrigan to create a planting plan. The following email is her response.

by Kelly F. Kerrigan
Environmental Conservation Superintendent
Town of Stratford

Hi Dr. Chess,

As we discussed, the reason you have been seeing a large quantity of tree removals at Shakespeare is due to the presence of the invasive tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima).

This tree is particularly aggressive, as it spreads by both seed and roots. Not only is this an invasive plant, but it is also the preferred host species to the invasive Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), which was detected first in Pennsylvania in 2014, and just in CT in 2019, I believe.

The degree to which this invasion may negatively impact our forest health remains uncertain, but there is potential for this to cause significant economic damage, as this insect feeds on a laundry list of other species, including a variety of fruit trees, which may impact our agriculture as well.

Following removal of Ailanthus, we will continue monitoring and removals as necessary. Additionally, supplemental native tree species will be planted as needed.

Here is CT DEEPs fact page on the insect for more information:

https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Forestry/Forest-Protection/Spotted-Lanternfly#Why

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/CAES/DOCUMENTS/Publications/Pest_Alerts/10-30-18-Tree-of-Heaven-ID.pdf

If you have any other questions, please let me know. Thank you!

Information on Tree-of-Heaven: Source: The Nature Conservancy

What is the Tree-of-Heaven?

The tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is a rapidly growing deciduous tree native to China that has become a widespread invasive species across North America.  Known by a number of names including stinking sumac, Chinese sumac, varnish tree and stink tree, the plant releases a strong, offensive smell, particularly from its flowers.

The tree-of-heaven was brought from China to the United States in the late 1700s as a horticultural specimen and shade tree. Its ease of establishment, rapid growth and absence of insect or disease problems made it popular when planning urban landscaping.

These same traits have led it to spread aggressively throughout the United States, crowding out native plants wherever it establishes itself.  The tree-of-heaven crowds out native species and secretes a chemical into the soil that is toxic to surrounding plants.

Why is the tree-of-heaven a problem?

The tree-of-heaven is a problem because it reproduces very quickly and aggressively inhibits (and can even kill) native plants near it. This invasive plant produces an overly abundant amount of seeds, crowds out native species with its dense thickets and secretes a chemical into the soil that is toxic to surrounding plants.

When native plants are hindered or killed, it upsets the balance of the native ecosystem and biodiversity, potentially leading to extinctions of native plant and animal species across the whole ecosystem.

In fact, invasive species have directly contributed to the decline of 42% of the threatened and endangered species in the United States.

The tree-of-heaven affects people in many ways. Its aggressive root system can cause damage to pavement, sewers and building foundations.

Tree-of-heaven and the Lanternfly

The plant has also helped advance the spread of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect also originally from China.  These insects seek out the tree-of-heaven as a place to lay their eggs. The spotted lanternfly, currently spreading across Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic U.S., feeds on and damages many species of native and fruit-bearing trees.

Climate change’s role with invasive species

Climate change is a threat to people and nature in many ways, one of which is how it can aid the spread of invasive species.  The tree-of-heaven springs up quickly after forest disturbances such as extreme weather or gypsy moth infestations.

Climate change may be enabling these disturbances by disrupting weather patterns, leading to more extreme weather like stronger storms and longer droughts, which allow the gypsy moth to thrive.

Controlling and managing the tree-of-heaven

Thankfully there are multiple ways to get rid of the tree-of-heaven. The most effective way to control tree-of-heaven is to pull seedlings by hand before the taproot develops. If the plant has matured, cutting alone will only help temporarily by reducing its ability to spread.

It’s important to correctly identify the tree-of-heaven since it looks similar to some native species. Several native trees and shrubs also have pinnately compound leaves (arranged in pairs across the plant’s stem) such as sumac, ash and black walnut.

It can be distinguished from these native species by its fuzzy, reddish-brown twigs and clusters of light green seed pods.

Progressive Voters Platform PAC

By Timothy Bristol

Help support progressives in Connecticut by contributing to Citizens for Progress PAC. Our organization is dedicated to promoting progressive ideals and progressive candidates throughout the state. We support candidates who share our values and oppose the MAGA Trump agenda.

Our platform includes progressive policies such as supporting Working Class Families with$15 Minimum Wage, Pro-Paid Family Medical Leave, Pro-Choice, Public Healthcare, Public Education, & Pro-Cannabis Unionization.

Pro-Public Transportation is also a platform because the State GOP candidates want to privatize the Department of Transportation, and we stand with the working families that this legislation will impact the most.

We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community for safe and productive public education, business, and home life. No one should be criticized for his or her gender identity, sexual orientation, or race.

Progressive Tax Reform Connecticut residents making under $40,000 in household income had 26% of their taxes taken away last year. We support non-regressive forms of legislation that will benefit the working class and Tax the 1%

We are asking for your support to fight for progressive values and stop the Bob Stefanowski and the other MAGA Republicans from being elected and pushing through their big business, tax breaks for the wealthy, anti-abortion agenda.

We need your help, please visit our website – citizensforprogressct.com, and contribute to our cause.

Letters To The Editor

Greatness of Our Country

By Thomas Sulier

“One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” President John F. Kennedy

Randy Weaver, who is a long time resident of our Town, is a devoted husband and father, a retired United States Navy Veteran, and a silent worker in beautifying our community in his own quiet way.

For years, he has adopted a point at the intersection of Pumpkin Ground and Cutspring Road, which lies nearby, to his home.  He has toiled without fanfare and cultivates a gorgeous garden at this singular point in our town, but also adds festive decorations during the various holidays.

The way I see it, it is not the money in a man’s pocket, or the clothes on his back that is important, but what is in his heart.

Randy exemplifies what good citizenship entails, doing what’s right and good for his neighbors, his community, without heralding his good works – as he has done in the past for his county.  He has also contributed in his own way to the ongoing development of the Stratford Veteran’s Museum.

His efforts, seemingly small and unheralded, should serve as a model for all of us to follow as practice good citizenship and serve as a model for the generations to come.

The Fabric of Our Society

By Tom Yemm
About a quarter-century ago, I acquired a beautiful shawl; hand-woven by a friend, an elderly woman who was both an artist and at whose home I had gotten married in Vermont. As precious as this weaving was to me, I put it into service, on a sofa where, soon enough, one of our cats got her claws stuck and damaged it. Not knowing anyone who repairs woven goods, I put it away and awaited a conservator of this delicate and evocative fabric.

We all know that our own social fabric is also damaged, and very much so. Is that the best metaphor? Sometimes I think that living tissue is an even better one…Regardless, whatever is broken won’t be fixed unless we do it ourselves.

Some in Stratford will recall, fondly or in exasperation, when perennial gadfly George Mulligan would decry corruption at Town Hall, in the public forum, and call for the FBI to investigate. Just as tirelessly, I would point out to him the obvious: the cavalry isn’t coming; whatever ails our local republic continues to drain away our vitality until we all do something about it.

Those who know me are aware that for many years I was involved in conservation: of the Shakespeare Theater, the Historic District, and the White House. A few successes, more than a few failures. For a while afterwards, I was convinced that only by acting politically could Stratford be transformed for the better, and working alongside others from both sides of the aisle, we had some successes there as well. In the end, however, it became all too clear, that Stratford’s country club and plantation politics were just too ingrained to be budged. Nothing has happened to disabuse me of that sorry conclusion.

And then it got worse. The national social fabric became so tattered that—well, you know the story and do not need me to retell it. Compounding injury, the pandemic arrived and tore at our collective “shawl” so much as to make it nearly unusable.

What am I talking about? Have you driven a car on the roads in the past two years, and watched as road-rage and the behavior leading up to it becomes more the rule than the exception?

Have you viewed the vitriol of the debates about mask wearing, whether it be online or IRL—in real life? Insert your own example here, but suffice to say we’re in a real pickle.

What can we do to repair this fabric, to regrow this “tissue” without which society dies out and becomes a war of individuals against each other? I’d love to call upon a surgeon–or a weaver–but I believe each of us has some of those skills; we just need to practice them.

One of the highlights of the dark days of 2020 was when someone would call my name, at the supermarket, or on the street, and tell me they recognized me beneath the surgical mask. And I did the same. One thread at a time…

What Pandemic? Stratford Slashes Student Health Services

Letters To The Editor

By Rachel Rusnak

In an effort to balance the BOE budget after the Town Council failed to fully fund Stratford Schools, the Town has informed St. Mark & St. James schools that they will no longer have access to a full-time nurse. In a letter to parents upon receipt of this news, St. Mark Principal Melissa Warner noted that “Reducing our nurse might make the Town of Stratford’s budget look better on paper and allow for money to be allocated elsewhere; but it is NOT benefitting anyone in Stratford, especially our children.”

As a parent, I elected to send my son to St. Mark in an effort to provide him with the best educational opportunities. Stratford’s designation as an Alliance District, having among the lowest Accountability Index measures in the state, reinforced my decision.

Now, in an effort to balance a budget slashed by our Town Council, Stratford is playing fast and loose with the health and safety of our children. The move has ruffled parents’ feathers, in 24 hours a petition launched to support keeping a full time nurse at both private schools has garnered over 600 signatures.

https://www.change.org/p/full-time-nurse-at-st-mark-school-st-james-school?redirect=fa

As Stratford tax (and private school tuition) payer’s, parents believe that our children deserve access to a nurse every day they are in school. I also believe that the State of Connecticut would agree, since State Statute Sec. 10-217a. reads:

(a) Each town or regional school district which provides health services for children attending its public schools in any grade, from kindergarten to twelve, inclusive, shall provide the same health services for children in such grades attending private nonprofit schools therein, when a majority of the children attending such schools are residents of the state of Connecticut.

Unless Stratford is planning to slash nursing services at its public schools as well, the proposal would appear to violate the State Statute, by not providing equitable access to health services to the Town’s two private schools.

Stratford needs to get its act together, it was a travesty that our administration failed to fully fund our schools, and now will jeopardize the health and safety of our children while still in the midst of a public health crisis. I am loath to consider what dangerous proposal will come next as the Town continues to penalize our children for their poor financial decisions.

Letters To The Editor

Senator Kevin Kelly Dodges Stance on Women’s Health

by Rachel S. Rusnak
Stratford

Since this is an opinion piece, I will be frank right off the bat- our current State Senator leaves much to be desired!

Kevin Kelly, representing areas of Stratford, Shelton, Monroe, and Seymour is out of touch, true, but also negligent when it comes to representing the people of his district.

Kelly touts “support” for women and families in his most recent campaign literature.  Despite this, he voted against the State budget, which included tax cuts for Connecticut families. Then, he abstained from voting on the women’s reproductive healthcare bill.

Upon the overturning of Roe, Kelly provided a lackluster non-response “ The Supreme Court’s decision does not change a woman’s right to choose in the state of Connecticut, nor will it,” Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly and Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore Paul Formica wrote in a statement.

Despite what his mailers may say, his actions, and lack thereof,  speak LOUD and CLEAR: women and families are not priorities for this politician. I find it curious that Kelly, whose district is 52% female, abstained from voting on the reproductive healthcare of women.

Either women’s healthcare is so unimportant to him that he couldn’t be bothered to vote, or he refuses to make his position clear to the voters who will cast their ballots this November.  Regardless of Kelly’s comments, the overturning of Roe affects the women of Connecticut. Media coverage of women across that State organizing, rallying, and speaking out literally cannot be avoided.

For Kelly to publicly pronounce that the decision doesn’t affect CT women indicates that he’s willfully not paying attention to his constituents – that is neglect. The Supreme Court decision also opened the door to the erosion of other long-held rights. What other topics will be up to our state legislature to decide on in the coming months and years?

What other topics will Kelly ignore? On what other topics will he refuse to take a stance,  and fail to represent his constituents? I suppose we will find out in November how lenient voters are willing to be for politicians who refuse to take a clear stand on defending our rights.

Letters to the Editor

Stratford Main Street Festival was an incredible success this year! Funds raised will support charitable efforts such as Food Banks, Scholarships, Lord’s Kitchen, Grants, Education, Environmental Projects, Turkey Dinners, International relief, and more.

Letters to the Editor

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

Dear Neighbor,

In almost half a year, more than 200 mass shootings have occurred in the United States. It is unthinkable that our country and communities continue to mourn the loss of innocent lives – children, elderly, worshippers, shoppers at supermarkets and malls – to senseless mass shootings.

My heart goes out to the Uvalde, Texas community, families, and friends, as they mourn the tragic loss of 19 precious children and 2 adults who were heartlessly taken by gun violence. Our thoughts and prayers are not enough to prevent these tragedies. We need Congress to act.

While each mass shooting may be different, there is one thread that binds all of them together – the ease with which individuals can purchase and obtain weapons and ammunition solely meant for war as early as 18 years of age.

Please join me by calling upon our lawmakers in Washington to demand bolder gun laws NOW – which the vast majority of Americans support.

Following the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012, we took steps here in Connecticut to ensure it never happened again. In recent years we implemented more gun safety reforms to reduce mass shootings (in addition to accidents and suicides in which guns are involved). These measures work, but we must demand Congress to act. We need the collective will to implement national policies – like red flag laws and expanding background checks – to protect lives and make sure these tragedies never happen again.

As your state representative, I commit to keep actively participating in the conversations to stop gun violence in our communities. Let’s work together to make those solutions a reality.

Contact your Connecticut Federal Delegation.

Sincerely,
Phil Young

Senate
• Blumenthal, Richard — Democrat
• Murphy, Chris — Democrat

House
• Larson, John B. — Democrat: 1st Congressional District
• Courtney, Joe — Democrat: 2nd Congressional District
• DeLauro, Rosa L. — Democrat: 3rd Congressional District
• Himes, Jim — Democrat: 4th Congressional District
• Hayes, Jahana — Democrat: 5th Congressional District