Editorial: The Wilton Bulletin's political endorsements
Wilton voters will once again be asked to make many choices when they head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6. A few of these choices are difficult — most are not.
Although this is not a contested race, having their names on the ballot affords The Bulletin an opportunity to recognize the heroic job Republican Tina Gardner and Democrat Carole Young-Kleinfeld have done this year in helping Wilton vote. With redistricting changing the state house divisions in Wilton, both Ms. Gardner and Ms. Young-Kleinfeld have been relentless in getting the word out to voters, whether it be through postcard mailings which became bigger and brighter as Election Day drew nearer, signs, voter registration drives, and repeated press releases and other submissions to local news media, The Bulletin included.
It is probably accurate to say there are no two people in Wilton more invested in the electoral process, and voters — as well as candidates and elected officials — are lucky to have such dedicated women working for them. If you still don’t know where to vote, go to wiltonct.org or wiltonbulletin.com and click on Voter Alert!
While contested races can be contentious, they are vital to the democratic process. It is only through vigorous discussion of important issues that voters can feel invested in the democratic process and make a reasoned choice.
Most of Wilton is in the 143rd District, and two worthy candidates have been vying for your vote: Gail Lavielle and Ted Hoffstatter. Gail Lavielle gets the nod here, although not due to any shortcomings of Mr. Hoffstatter.
As the many, many letters written on her behalf that have appeared here in the last several weeks attest, Ms. Lavielle is a popular representative. If nothing else, she is in touch with her constituents, and that is one of her greatest assets. People need to feel they are being listened to, and Ms. Lavielle not only listens, she responds. She is one of the most responsive officials in town, and does not shirk from answering questions. While some of her votes this year smacked of being party-driven — the death penalty and medical marijuana being two of them — she has fought the good fight in other areas, such as rail transportation, state spending and over-taxation. She deserves another term.
Mr. Hoffstatter is a compassionate and dedicated selectman whose finger is on the pulse of the future with his championing of the environment and senior citizen issues. He does excellent work for this town and Wilton is lucky to have him. This race will give him the seasoning he needs to move forward politically, and The Bulletin hopes he continues on this path.
For the first time in decades, the 125th District is a wide-open race, with three New Canaan candidates, all of whom bring valuable ideas to the table: Republican Tom O’Dea, Democrat Mark Robbins and the Green Party’s David Bedell.
While he is the definite underdog, Mr. Bedell has brought important issues into focus. When asked at the League of Women Voters forum in Wilton earlier this month about gun control, he did not present a left-wing agenda but said cars are a bigger threat to public health in Connecticut and argued for stronger laws against distracted driving. He is also a champion of mass transportation. Mr. Bedell also brought up some out-of-the-box ideas, such as replacing traditional property taxes with a land value tax being tested in New London. It places a greater tax burden on tracts of land than it does on buildings, commerce or wages.
Mr. Robbins rightly points out that if he is elected, Wilton will have a seat at the majority table, which could be an advantage. He has considerable experience with sustainable building practices and environmental issues and has made that a centerpiece of his campaign. He is also in favor of a tax freeze.
But it will take more than environmental initiatives to dig Connecticut out of its financial hole, and that is why Tom O’Dea should be the choice here. While a strict 10% across-the-board spending cut is probably unworkable, he is right in that the state really needs to rein in spending. He is also right to call for less borrowing. Debt service is a killer for any budget, large or small.
To reduce congestion on I-95, his idea of encouraging truck traffic during off-hours is something that won’t cost more money.
And his concern for senior citizens — shared by many here in Wilton — is something that is much needed in the Nutmeg State.
Republican incumbent Toni Boucher has been a hard-working, relentless advocate for 26th District towns on issues ranging from education to train service. She is a “hands-on” legislator who listens and makes great efforts to faithfully represent the needs and desires of her constituents. She has made some choices that are questionable, most prominent among those her vociferous attack on medical marijuana. But this is just one issue where she is out of step.
Her challenger, Democrat Carolanne Curry, has been wise to focus on addressing ever-increasing local property taxes, transportation needs and protecting public education. Nevertheless, Ms. Boucher has proven she is the right choice for the 26th District.
One of the tighter races is bound to be the one for the 4th Congressional District. Both candidates recognize the importance of being a moderate in a district that is the very epitome of moderate.
But even though Republican challenger Steve Obsitnik offers some innovative ideas — not the least of which is his pledge to serve no more than eight years so that he cannot be influenced by special interests — and he is to be commended for a running a positive, issue-driven campaign, Democrat Jim Himes clearly remains the best choice.
In his four years representing southwestern Connecticut, Mr. Himes has proven to be a moderate Democrat who votes his conscience and has a track record of working across party lines — no small accomplishment in this Congress. The nonpartisan Concord Coalition honored him as one of just 38 members of Congress — 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans — to vote for a budget based on the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan. As a member of the Financial Services Committee, Mr. Himes has been a leader when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Here at home, his 4th District constituent needs do not take a back seat to Washington politics. He has been particularly helpful in times of great stress, such as the havoc wrought by Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm last year.
He is thoughtful and compassionate, and he brings to both domestic and foreign policies a cool head and an impressive skill set. He has earned a chance to return to Washington for another term.
While Republican Linda McMahon would like voters to think the race for Connecticut’s open Senate seat is a tight one, Democrat Chris Murphy is the clear and obvious choice.
The three-term congressman, who also served in Connecticut’s legislature, is an advocate for society’s less fortunate and a strong voice against military adventurism. Mr. Murphy has shown he knows how to be a legislator, working across the aisle for the greater good. He will continue to bring commonsense solutions to areas like Medicare and Social Security, advocate for level-headed foreign policy, and remember always that cutting government programs for the poor, veterans and seniors to pay for more tax cuts for the very wealthy is no way to run a country.
Ms. McMahon has not run a political campaign, she has run an advertising campaign. She has repeatedly refused to address real issues or to directly answer questions about her positions, and has chosen instead to try to malign Mr. Murphy’s character in the hope voters will overlook the flaws in her own and her lack of substantive ideas. Mr. Murphy is the one who deserves voters’ support.
The choice for president of the United States is also clear. Democrat Barack Obama was the right man for the job four years ago, and he continues to be the person who will lead the country on the path it ought to go down.
Flourishing businesses, a strong economy, and good, stable jobs are obviously important for the health of the country and to all of its citizens. But our country is a democracy, not a corporation, and it should not and cannot be run like a business.
An effective leader of the United States must be focused on protecting the most vulnerable, not helping the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful in the hope they will hire more underlings, thereby “raising up” the underclass.
Mr. Obama’s approach has always been hopeful, deliberate, intelligent, inclusive, and pragmatic. The economy was in free-fall when he took office four years ago — markets collapsing, banking in crisis, jobs vanishing. He took bold and often unpopular — but ultimately necessary — steps to stabilize it, and in so doing, averted real disaster. The recovery has been much slower than anyone would like, but a Republican opposition in Congress that vowed from the get-go to make ousting Mr. Obama its primary goal, rather than helping the American people, must shoulder much of the blame for that.
The president has taken some heat for “pushing” health care reform at a time when the economy was crying out for attention. But health insurance costs were spiraling out of control and a failure to address the problem would only have created further economic disaster for millions of Americans. It’s ironic that Mr. Obama’s opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, now disavows the very same ideas about health care he once championed as governor of Massachusetts, simply because, one must assume, it’s Mr. Obama’s plan. It’s also indicative of much of Mr. Romney’s positions: It’s hard to tell exactly what his position is on so many issues, because he seems to say whatever his audience at the moment wants to hear. That’s not leadership.
One position Mr. Romney has made clear is his desire to see military spending increase, a clear difference from Mr. Obama’s contention the Pentagon should not get money for which it is not even asking. With one war over and a second quickly winding down, the idea of ramping up military spending as Mr. Romney proposes, rather than redirecting it to those struggling here at home as Mr. Obama wants to do, is baffling.
Mr. Obama is cool-headed, smart, and committed to fairness and balanced solutions. His approach can be painfully slow and messy — but, we’ve said it before: Democracy is messy. It’s about hashing out ideas, making compromises without giving up what is fundamentally important, and working for a greater good. Mr. Obama has proven he is up to the task; let’s hope a new Congress will be willing to help and allow him to complete it.