Voters should re-elect U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat who has battled passionately to strengthen gun control laws and expand health care, and Congressman Jim Himes, a four-term incumbent who chairs the moderate New Democrat Coalition seeking fiscally responsible pro-growth policies. The two Democrats are needed to help Congress stand watch against the excesses of Donald Trump’s erratic presidency — something the Republicans now controlling Washington have not shown they have the gumption to do. The system of checks and balances bequeathed to the nation by the founding fathers works best when the presidency and Congress are controlled by different parties — if ever we needed “divided government,” the time is now.

Wilton’s state Senate candidates have been engaged in the most vigorous debate for this seat in years. Democratic candidate Will Haskell has brought passion and good ideas to the table, among them stronger gun safety laws and investments to bring vitality to Connecticut in the long term. Republican Toni Boucher works very hard for her district and with her seniority gives it a valuable place at the legislative table. Boucher needs to temper her comments on tolls, waiting to see where the discussion leads before fanning the flames of dissent with speculative costs. But her willingness to call out the president for his irresponsible rhetoric, particularly in ethnic and immigration issues, is to her credit. Boucher should be re-elected.

Wilton also has two excellent candidates running to represent the 143rd District. Stephanie Thomas would be a worthy choice with her practical approach to the fiscal crisis, such as regionalizing certain services, and her commitment to gun safety in a state that has seen too much violence. But Gail Lavielle has served Wilton tirelessly on an individual and district-wide basis for the past eight years. Her belief that government has no place telling people how to live their personal lives is most welcome in an atmosphere where conservatives are targeting women’s reproductive rights and the LGBTQ community. She deserves to be returned to office.

While Boucher and Lavielle are constantly out in their districts, meeting with and speaking with constituents, the same cannot be said for Tom O’Dea who represents Wilton in the 125th District. While no doubt committed to his legislative work, O’Dea is a  busy attorney and New Canaanite whose absence is felt here. Ross Tartell is an enthusiastic candidate whose professional experience in bringing people of opposing sides together is sorely needed in Hartford. His priorities of transportation, education, jobs, and finding solutions to the state’s fiscal woes match Wilton’s priorities. Tartell deserves a chance to go to Hartford.