DANBURY – On the hunt for a third re-election, state Sen. Julie Kushner, a Democrat representing District 24, knocked on doors Saturday at a lakeside neighborhood she’d visited earlier this year in support of the town’s Career Academy.
“I know people in this area because I’ve come here last June when we had a referendum,” Kushner told CT Examiner. “I went door to door on that issue without campaigning for myself because I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a partisan issue.”
But four months later, Kushner was back at the townhouses alongside Lake Kenosia highlighting her work in paid family medical leave, increasing minimum wage, environmentalism and education — and asking voters for their support.
Kushner was ready to walk the familiar area – she’d had her sneakers on since that morning, after throwing the first pitch at an Old-Timers Softball League tournament.
She practiced her throw for days leading up the game, but said she didn’t do as well as she’d liked on the field.
“I’m always competing with myself,” said Kushner.
“You don’t say,” laughed Georgia Hollister Isman, New England Regional Director for the Working Families Party, following closely behind with a clipboard – Kushner was among the 80 state legislature candidates endorsed by the Working Families Party.
In addition to making phone calls, Kushner said she’s been out knocking three to four times a week and it’s a highlight of her campaign. She said she wanted to talk to as many people as she could.
Holding a screen door open, one voter, Michelle, told Kushner that with grandchildren in school and her daughter working as a teacher, gun control was important to her.
“I’m endorsed by Connecticut Against Gun Violence,” Kushner told her. “I voted for the safe storage of guns. I voted to ban ghost guns.”
Kushner explained that the legislature may limit the amount of firearms someone could buy in a month because most guns used in violent crimes were purchased in bulk.
The voter agreed as Kushner discussed the importance of banning AR-15s on a national level.
“Well, I will be voting for you,” she smiled.
At another house, Kushner celebrated the approval of the Career Academy with Andres, a young voter. He was one of the 86 percent in Danbury who voted for the new school.
“I think last time I was here you were having a party,” Kushner said.
“Man, you’ve got a good memory,” Andreas laughed.
Andreas reminded Kushner that education was a top priority this election season as he planned on having children, but said he wasn’t sure if he’d stay in Danbury long term.
“Maintaining that competitiveness in schools is top of mind,” he said. “It’s a balance, right? Because when you really push the schools, that raises taxes. And in Danbury, what makes it competitive is lower taxes.”
Kushner agreed and told Andreas that she works very closely with the school district. She asked him to reach out if he needed help looking into local schools.
“You’re very accessible,” he said. “I’ve definitely noticed how hard you’re working.”
But when Kushner asked if she had his vote, Andreas was on the fence. He said he would look further into her campaign issues.
Kushner told CT Examiner that voters are generally polite, but said she still experiences rejection. She told a story from four years ago when a self-described lifelong Republican said he wouldn’t vote for her.
“Coincidentally, this guy is the cook at VFW and I go there for breakfast every month because it’s a fundraiser for scholarships for kids,” Kushner said. “I was in there earlier this month and he said, ‘I got a text asking if I’m voting for you, and look what I put – a thumbs up. I’m voting for you.’”
Kushner said the issues she heard most from voters this election season were healthcare, affordability and inflation.
“People are concerned about inflation,” she said. “A lot of that happens at the federal level, but there are things we’ve done in Connecticut. Eliminating the 25 cent gas tax has made a difference.”
She said that while the price of gas is still high, the elimination helped families and she would continue to push it after it expired at the end of the year.
Kushner said that whether it be reducing taxes for middle and low income households, the child tax rebate or putting a cap on the cost of insulin, she planned to help working families upon reelection.