Editorial: Elected decisions

The choice for president is abundantly clear. Hillary Clinton is smart, hard-working — even her enemies concede she does her homework — and she has prepared for the presidency with years of experience as secretary of state, a widely praised U.S. senator from New York, and with the unique inside look at the White House and the workings of statecraft as first lady during her husband’s presidency. She has also proved resilient and cool under pressure, enduring hearings and investigations drummed up one after another by Republicans determined to hurt the reputation of a leading Democrat in what has been the most highly partisan Congress in memory.

Donald Trump, in contrast, has virtually no relevant experience. Backed by millions in family money, he’s had an up-and-down bankruptcy-plagued business career in land development and gambling casinos before the stint as a reality TV celebrity that set the stage for his unexpected venture into politics. In the Republican primaries, Trump rose past more qualified candidates with the lowest sort of demagoguery — belittling opponents, scapegoating whole ethnic groups, stoking fears and prejudices. Through it all, he revealed himself as a grown man with a strikingly adolescent and egotistical temperament, alternatively bragging and whining about polling results, showing up noticeably ill-prepared for the first debate. On issue after issue, Clinton has put forward serious policy proposals while Trump has offered assurances that he’ll take care of it. And then there’s the lewd remarks caught on tape when he was bragging about his sexual exploits to a TV personality. This man should not be president. Beyond all that, the central premise that makes the Trump candidacy attractive to many people — the notion that establishment politicians are responsible for all the world’s problems, which would somehow be magically solved with a new and different approach from a bold novice president — is simple-minded hogwash. Some policy decisions have been better and others worse, but the world’s major problems have been decades, sometimes centuries, in the making, and tagging President Obama and Secretary Clinton with responsibility for them is nonsense. Is there a business or institution anywhere that would bypass a smart, serious, highly experienced candidate in order to hand its leadership to someone who has no relevant experience and is of clearly flawed and questionable character? Voters should not do that with the most powerful office in the world.

In legislative races, the goal is to counterbalance the power of poor-performing majorities. That means sending Democrats to Washington to check a Republican congressional majority that has been pulled far to the right by its Tea Party wing and has been unconscionably obstructionist throughout the Obama administration. At the state level, it means voting Republican to strengthen the dissent against the poor fiscal record of Hartford’s Democratic majority.

For U.S. Senate, Democrat Richard Blumenthal has been a strong voice on issues that range from gun violence to women’s rights and has earned a second term representing Connecticut in Washington, D.C.

For Congress, the 4th District’s eight-year incumbent, Jim Himes, is a thoughtful moderate Democrat who supported the deficit-reduction program put forward by the Simpson-Bowles Commission and is a passionate advocate for protecting the environment and moving toward cleaner energy while supporting gun control and women’s rights.

For state senator, Toni Boucher, a four-term Republican incumbent after 12 years representing Wilton in the General Assembly, is a high-energy legislator who puts tremendous effort into being open and available, despite the fact that her 26th District, including Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, Weston, Westport, New Canaan, and Bethel, is perhaps the safety Republican seat in the state Senate. She has battled for fiscal restraint and business-friendly policies in Hartford, and fought to protect train service for district commuters on the Danbury Branch line. As a former Wilton school board chairman, a state Board of Education member, and ranking member of the Educational Committee, Boucher will be an informed voice looking out for the interests of schoolchildren as the legislature tackles a court-ordered re-design of education funding.

Wilton has a hard-working state rep in Gail Lavielle, a Republican who represents Wilton’s 143rd District. She runs unopposed this year, testament to her popularity among her constituents. It is not without merit. Lavielle is always at the forefront of transportation issues. She was among those leading the fight to prevent ticket prices from rising 5% (on top of another 1% increase) in December. She says her top priority this year is the state budget and its bleak fiscal outlook. She has been endorsed by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and was named a Children’s Champion by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. She will ably serve Wilton for another term.

The rest of Wilton, which lies in the 125th District, is served by New Canaan’s Tom O’Dea, a Republican. Since he first assumed office in 2012, eliminating the state tax on Social Security income has been a major issue for him. He says it continues to be. Achieving that would be one step in the right direction to stem the outflow of retired Connecticut residents. Improving the business climate for both large and small businesses is also something he said he will be working toward.

Wilton’s registrars of voters have a line on the ballot but they are selected by their respective town committees. Carole Young-Kleinfeld has once again been tapped by the Democrats. It is a wise choice since Young-Kleinfeld is a fount of election information and is truly dedicated to safeguarding every eligible citizen’s right to vote.

This year we say goodbye to Republican Registrar Tina Gardner, who chose to end her service with this term. Gardner has ably served the citizens of Wilton for 18 years and her presence will surely be missed. She will be replaced by Annalisa Stravato Favarolo.