32 Takes on the New Year with CT Examiner


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Ned Lamont, Governor of Connecticut

At the start of the new year, my administration plans to collaboratively work with the legislature to address a long neglected issue plaguing our state. For the future of our state, we will not only strengthen our economy but shorten daily commutes and protect the financial future of the state by finally repairing and enhancing our infrastructure. We also plan to continue to push Connecticut’s economy forward and make greater progress on our state’s significant turnaround. From Moody’s to Bloomberg to the Wall Street Journal—all are taking note of the economic progress that Connecticut is making. Manufacturing is thriving in various parts of the state and companies like Electric Boat are boasting the largest workforce in almost three decades. Incubators and other businesses are attracting the future talent they need to grow—that is where we plan to focus.

Gail MacDonald, Professor of Journalism, University of Connecticut

My hope for 2020 is for the public’s increased respect for journalists, as well as more recognition that journalists have difficult, sometimes thankless and dangerous jobs. The founding fathers understood the importance of a free press and, as such, guaranteed press freedom in the Constitution’s First Amendment. Journalists are witnesses to history and often put themselves in harm’s way to report significant events. More and more journalists are being subjected to harassment, intimidation and physical assault. Some even have been killed. This is abominable and my hope is that with a new decade starting, this trend is reversed.

Luanne Rice, Writer

I write this gazing out at the marsh, silver with ice from yesterday’s storm.  At the end of this decade, I feel grateful for the shoreline’s natural beauty—the way the rivers, ponds, lakes, and the Sound reflect light and provide habitat for birds and other creatures.  The hills and woods and beaches inspired the American Impressionists to create works of art that in turn inspire us. I set my novels in Old Lyme because it is in my heart, inseparable from who I am.  Going forward into 2020, I hope for kindness—for each other, for the environment, for this beautiful place we share.

J. David Kelsey, Co-Founder of CT Examiner

When Greg Stroud and I first talked about the potential for CT Examiner in February of this year, we were just getting to know each other better.  We quickly established a wonderful commonality in the commitment to contribute to a local and regional news fabric, a fabric that has been suffering greatly as all who love newspapers know well.  Our community has been enriched by Greg’s outstanding ownership and editorship and the significant talents of our reporting staff, Julia, Cate and Chris. I hope that others recognize what I view to be thoughtful, deep articles that are achieving a renewed ability of our towns’ residents to understand important issues that may have not seen the light of day in the not-too-distant past!

Congressman Joe Courtney

As the 2019 holiday season approaches and we prepare to close out the year, we have a lot to be thankful for in eastern Connecticut. From the renaissance of growth in the maritime sector, to the increase in shipbuilding and improvement in the environment of Long Island Sound, there’s a variety of positive news. Amidst all the good news, one trend stands out: the fact that eastern Connecticut, particularly New London County, is attracting young, millennial workers at a rapid pace. That’s a clear sign that southeastern Connecticut and our entire region has a strong, healthy future.

Justin Elicker, Mayor of New Haven

In the coming year I hope we will all find more opportunities to build trust and better understand one another. I hope that we will view politics as a way not to divide each other or reward our friends, but rather as a way to promote our values and implement policies that improve the lives of every individual – particularly those who are struggling to get by. I predict the coming decade will be defining for New Haven, Connecticut and the nation. We are struggling with so many deep challenges. What we do over the next decade will show if we as humans are capable of moving beyond our differences to overcoming these challenges.

Alma Nartatez, President Pro-Temp City Councilor of New London

My hope for 2020 is that we run into the new year energized. Be thankful for the successes and admit the failures. It is now time to take a deep breath and face 2020 with optimism. We cannot predict what the year will bring but we can control our attitude, our willingness to respectfully work together and our desire to be good citizens. As we continue the push to improve the quality of life for our residents in the City of New London, let’s stop the negativity and focus on fairness, compassion and equal representation. Indeed, we are a city of perseverance.

Norm Needleman, First Selectman of Essex/State Senator

The turn of the decade is an exciting time. I will be starting my second year as a state senator and my 9th year as first selectman in Essex. I’m hoping for a successful year as a legislator and looking to continue managing Essex in a prudent and effective way. I believe the State is turning the corner, and now is the time to focus on the great things this state has to offer. All too often, we focus on the negative and forget what a special place this is. Connecticut consistently ranks in the top 10 states for quality of life. Essex is one of the best small towns anywhere I’ve ever been. On a personal note, I’m hoping to devote more time to my family and friends. Wearing as many hats as I do, family has paid a price, and I need to try to fix that.Mostly I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous new decade.

Richard W. Stout III, Old Lyme

When asked to contribute to the local mosaic of reflections on a New Year, my thoughts were oddly mixed. Economic and investment metrics affecting my business and clientele in 2019 were broadly positive. Nonetheless, Connecticut’s high cost of living, lagging real estate market and deficit woes, were common fodder for discussions throughout the year. Add to this the bitter political divisiveness gripping the country and the undeniable challenges of climate change facing the state, country and the world, I am left entering 2020 in search of greater harmony and collective effort amongst all stakeholders to rise up and face our challenges while maintaining our humanity.

Paul Formica, State Senator

As I reflect on 2019 and look ahead to 2020, I’m reminded what a great state and country we live in. Our state, especially the 20th district, has many great communities filled with wonderful people. Our large population of military personnel, both retired and active, remind us of the sacrifice and commitment veterans make in protecting and sustaining our freedoms and our way of life.

New London is on the rise thanks to strong leadership and its enviable position geographically, while small business and the growing arts, cultural and hospitality industries continue to produce jobs and drive our economy.

Manufacturing and energy took center stage in 2019, first with the preservation of Millstone saving our energy supply, jobs and our economy. This allowed us time to bridge to the next generation of energy generation. Offshore wind and grid-scale solar have the potential to change the economic landscape both in New London and across our state in the development of rate stabilization, new job creation, manufacturing and marine construction opportunities.

Electric Boat is secure with a backlog of new submarines, growing employment levels and our regional economy. The newly approved hospital deal with the state begins a new and more positive relationship and it’s now time to laser focus on reducing the ever increasing cost of healthcare. Let our united vision for 2020 be for a positive outlook of economic growth, strong support for non-profits who do so much and support of all our citizens.

Together let us focus less on political noise and more on working hand in hand for a better southeast Connecticut and beyond.

Happy New Year!

Tony Sheridan, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut

Eastern Connecticut is positioned for growth and a bright future as we begin 2020. Entering the last decade, we were facing the challenges of a national economic crisis and just beginning to rebuild. We end 2019 with unemployment negligible at 3.5%, where meeting workforce demands is the new challenge. We must meet the challenges of growth with even more vigor to make the most of the opportunities at hand.

Developments across major industries will have ripple effects that we can turn into sustained growth. Electric Boat’s $22.2 billion contract means increased hiring for years, but it also translates into opportunities for suppliers and related maritime tech industries. Pfizer continues to grow as a leader in bioscience research, and benefits from startups at BioCT Innovations Commons. A diverse palette of energy solutions—Dominion, NTE Energy, Orsted and Eversource—form a flexible and robust resource for the state and significant economic opportunities for our region.

Tourism remains a backbone industry for eastern Connecticut, and the venues that make this a great place to visit make it an amazing place to live. Redevelopment of our cities has taken off as the demand for high-end urban housing remains the trend for millennials and retirees alike.

With all the good news and building momentum, eastern Connecticut has the opportunity to work together, across the region, governments and industries, to spur growth at all levels to create a diverse and resilient economy.

Betsy Gara, Executive Director of Connecticut Council of Small Towns

Connecticut continues to struggle to address ongoing budget challenges, including staggering unfunded pension liabilities. Municipal aid has been cut or flat-funded, placing enormous pressure on property taxpayers to fund the rising cost of education and other critical services. My hope for 2020 is that state lawmakers and stakeholders can work together with purpose and vision to address these issues. By 2030, I predict that people will have grown weary of looking down at their phones and tablets and focusing their energy on “fighting the old” and, instead, look up and outward to focus on “building the new”, to paraphrase Socrates. 

Rolf Wolfswinkel, Professor of Modern History, NYU

As a historian I am often asked to comment on possible similarities between developments in the 1930’s in Germany and present-day events in America.  In all fairness I have to say that populism has always been an undercurrent of the democratic system, but maybe never more so than since 2016. 

Almost half a year before the US experienced its own slide towards civil discordance, in June the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union with the slimmest possible majority, 52-48%. Few people knew what Brexit meant, they just knew they didn’t want what they had. 

The scene repeated itself in November of that same year, on the other side of the Atlantic. America also decided to go it alone, with even slimmer margins. An Anglo-American flaw?

It is now almost four years later. England has had a chance to redeem itself. It chose not to. 

What will America do? It will be the most important choice many of us feel we have to make, come November. Will it be a choice for more chaos, more bitter divisiveness, or is there a chance political sense will prevail? 

Those who know me will know that I am not holding my breath. 

Brian White, Region 4 Superintendent of Schools

I am excited and optimistic about what the next decade will offer the field of education. As we continue to deepen our understanding of how to maximize technology in the classroom,  I believe we will experience the development of increasingly personalized approaches to instruction that will benefit every individual learner in our schools.

Brittany Stalsburg, BLS Research & Consulting

I hope that I can take the same advice I give to my clients- to “go big” and aim for the bold and transformative, rather than the subtle and safe. As a market researcher and strategist, I’ve seen brands and companies reap the benefits of taking risks, even in the face of uncertainty. I resolve to do the same in my own life, trusting myself in 2020 to make those big leaps personally.

Rebekah Beaulieu, Director, Florence Griswold Museum

Looking back on the past year and the past decade, I am struck by the rapidity with which our world is changing, sometimes for the better (technology allowing us to better connect with friends and family) and for the worse (care of our environment, or lack thereof). I look to 2020 with hope, anticipation, and excitement that it will be a pivotal time of learning and planning for our future. So many exhilarating things are happening at the Flo Gris, and in the museum field as a whole, and I can’t wait to experience what is next!

Carl Fortuna, First Selectman of Old Saybrook

We in government have an obligation to reach more of our citizens this year through different channels. Whether it’s Facebook Live, twitter or another app, reaching our citizens where they are, and not where town officials are, is critical to more public knowledge of town government and better engagement. People are busy. It is up to us in government to try harder to reach more citizens. My concern is with the 2020 presidential election and how crazy that campaign may be. Citizens will either be completely turned off from government or so exhausted from the national campaign that they don’t have the energy to pay attention.

Jason Hine, Founder, RiseUpMystic

RiseUpMystic is a local, progressive, grassroots organization made up of concerned citizens that came together after the election of Donald Trump in 2016 to help ensure the humane treatment of immigrants, promote the expansion of healthcare to all Americans and protect our world from the effects of climate change. This last issue has, in fact, kept many of us up at night. It is my hope that we will elect a new president in 2020 – someone who is morally grounded, civic-minded, and perhaps most importantly, will declare a climate emergency and rally Americans around this issue.

Christine Palm, State Representative, 36th District

I write this on the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre and a few days before the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Articles of Impeachment. The earth is on fire both metaphorically and, in some places, quite literally. In my 63 years as an American, this is our nation’s darkest hour.  So, are there reasons to be hopeful? Yes, absolutely. First, our young people are galvanized and registering to vote in record numbers. Older folks, too, are involved – some for the first time in their lives and others working hard to preserve the human rights advances they fought for when they were young. Connecticut is not without its struggles, to be sure, but we remain a beacon of compassion in our public policy, have among the highest qualities of life in the nation, and our land and waterways are among the country’s most beautiful. As a New Year approaches, I hope all can find renewed faith in government – local, state and federal – and that policymakers everywhere strive to earn that trust by doing their jobs ethically, effectively and with the common good –- not self-interest — at the forefront.

Will Haskell, State Senator, 26th District

2020 may be one of the most important years in American history. I’m predicting a rigorous election, all against the backdrop of the most important decision our country has made in decades. No matter the result, I hope that 2020 brings us together to plan for Connecticut’s future. It’s been an honor to work on issues like the cost of college, climate change and infrastructure. These problems aren’t going anywhere, and I look forward to continuing the hard work next year.

Ronna Stuller

Usually, I like to fight, impatiently, for big ideas – peace, justice, democracy, ecology – that would rapidly transform the world and ensure a hopeful future for my grandkids and the generations beyond them. But, the gradual lengthening of days between the Winter Solstice and the New Year reminds me that there is value in steady incremental progress. Therefore, in 2020, I look forward to seeing the baby steps we take near home – planting gardens and orchards, making music and art, preserving historic properties, welcoming immigrants, fixing roads and sidewalks – bring joy in the doing, the giving, and the receiving, and, gradually but assuredly, brighten our community and lighten our struggles.

Ian Neviaser, Lyme-Old Lyme Superintendent of Schools

I hope for the new year that our world will be filled with peace and prosperity and that opportunity abounds and dreams come true. As for the next decade, I think (or maybe hope) the social media pendulum may swing the other way with fewer people sharing everything about their life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.  I think electric vehicles will become more commonplace than they already are and cable television will go the way of the landline phone. I think the availability of online learning will continue to grow allowing access to education to a broader audience.

Matt Pugliese, Old Saybrook Selectman

I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to take on two new leadership roles at the end of November. One as a member of Old Saybrook’s Board of Selectmen, and the second as the Associate State Director of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center. It’s a lot of responsibility and a wonderful opportunity to lead in my community. I’m excited to really explore these opportunities in 2020. I look forward to working with our business and nonprofit leaders. I wish everyone health, hope and happiness in 2020.

Jerry Weiss, Artist

Wishing Gregory Stroud and the Examiner staff a joyous New Year! Every day we’re reminded how important journalism is to the health of a republic. Glad you’re here!

Under the Railroad Bridge, Old Saybrook. Oil on linen, 30 x 36, 2019

Katie Huffman, Director of the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library

2020 will be an exciting year for the library.  The newly renovated library will become an even more vibrant hub for our community, and we hope that all who visit us discover a place where they feel they belong and can find the space, the help, or the inspiration they need, whether they’re looking for a quiet place to reflect, searching for a great book, seeking to connect with friends, or working with a group to improve our community.  We hope that our passion for service and our commitment to the community shine through in all that we do.

Nancy Stula, Executive Director, William Benton Museum of Art

2020 is generally hindsight, but I predict that the Connecticut Examiner will continue to keep Old Lyme informed and engaged. So happy to have you here! Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and art-filled new year 2020.

Betty Narducci, owner, The Knit

Today is the Winter Solstice, it is the shortest day of the year. Today is also very cold. Both things are great for my business. Cold and dark days make folks want to feel warm and cozy. At the Knit we look forward to serving our customers helping them to feel the delight of a well finished project. We love seeing customers’ eyes light up when they discover that they can do something new. We are looking, hoping, dreaming of a future full of discovery and delight.

D. Samuel Quigley, Director of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum

2020 will bring exciting new exhibitions and programs to the Lyman Allyn Art Museum. From January through March, the Museum will host a fascinating lecture series on the Art and Artistry of Photography with National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Todd Gipstein. In June, we will feature an exhibition of light-hearted sculpture by Peter Anton and celebrate our 5th annual Summer Fest. Come Fall, visitors will enjoy viewing Young at Art: Caldecott Illustration Award Winners, an exhibit featuring original illustrations from beloved children’s books. As always, there’s a lot to see and do here at the Lyman Allyn, New London’s Own.

Mary Johnson, Run Coach and Founder of Lift Run Perform

The resurgence of American women’s distance running has been nothing short of incredible. In 2019 alone, previously taboo topics like RED-S, the prevalence of eating disorders in running, and maternity leave for professional athletes have come to the surface–and the conversation is not ending with the close of the decade. In 2020, I’m looking forward to seeing more barriers broken and having more leaders in the sport discuss the real issues that women face. I ultimately hope this leads to a cultural shift in women’s health and how help is provided for women during crucial life moments.

Devin Carney, State Representative, 23rd District

Southeastern Connecticut will be awash with exciting opportunities in the coming years. There is a renewed focus on economic development; with continued growth in the clean energy, defense, manufacturing, and tourism sectors. Connecticut, like many states, faces challenges, but, working together, we can overcome anything. Our future looks bright.

I eagerly anticipate new innovations in medicine, technology, transportation, and renewable energy. These advances will improve the lives of Connecticut’s residents and our world.

I wish everyone in Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook a happy and healthy New Year and a hope for peace and prosperity in the next decade.

Sophie Spaner

As we dive headfirst from one crazy year into the next, I want to remind the world, or at least the dedicated readers of The Connecticut Examiner, of a few things. Remember the best joke you heard this year, the songs you fell in love with, the times you made babies laugh, the times you made babies cry, the children that you interacted with, the fact that children are the future. Remember that there is nothing more beautiful than the moment you are experiencing, that there is nothing more crazy than the life you are living, all that and more.

Jack Montmeat, Artist

Long live the art of Old Lyme