Working Families Party: Our Main Goal Next Year Will be to Push Lawmakers for Progressive Policies


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For Connecticut progressives, 2023 ended on a high note. After 23 years of Republican government, Roberto Alves was sworn in on November 30 as the new Mayor of Danbury.

Considering how important they are, local elections in our state receive far less attention than they deserve. Our Mayors, Council Members, Alders, Board of Education, and Zoning Commissioners have final say on education, city planning, policing, fire safety, land use, traffic, road construction, sanitation, and land use across the state. Although Connecticut’s extreme housing segregation and unfair school finance system place some severe constraints on city budgets, if your town has lousy schools, pothole-filled streets, lacks affordable housing, or misbehaving police officers, it is the local authorities who should be first in line to shoulder the blame.

For many years, Danbury had plenty of potholes, unaffordable housing, and the worst-funded schools in the state. Republican administrations cut services and ran the city for the benefit of a few well-connected landlords and developers. Voters had grown weary and tired of a City Hall that was unwilling to address the immediate needs of its residents. Turning this discontent into a successful election challenge, however, required an effective, well-organized campaign with a strong ground game. The Connecticut Working Families Party was part of this effort, recruiting volunteers, phone banking, knocking on doors. I personally spent a lot of time canvassing across town, speaking with hundreds of voters, talking about Roberto’s vision for Danbury.

That vision for city government proved to be popular not just in Danbury, but across the state. Progressive candidates scored victories in Middletown, Meriden, New Haven, Norwalk, Hartford, New London, and New Britain, both at the top of the ticket and down-ballot. Many of those candidates did so with our endorsement and support. What we learned on election day is that Connecticut voters are looking for progressive, pragmatic candidates offering real solutions to their communities’ problems. They want a government for the many, not the privileged few. Our message, our ideas, resonated with voters. We are winning elections.

This strong support for progressive values, however, faced some strong headwinds earlier this year. I’ve written plenty in previous columns about our disappointing legislative session. Connecticut Democrats, despite holding strong majorities in both chambers, failed to pass much legislation this year. House moderates stalled or outright blocked several bills addressing the immediate needs of working families, like paid sick days or predictable scheduling. Lawmakers fell spectacularly short in their response to the housing crisis. As a result, Connecticut will continue to become less and less affordable for working and middle-class families, businesses will continue to struggle to fill vacancies, and our economy will continue to lag behind the rest of the country.

Making things worse, Democrats took a pass on addressing the root causes of Connecticut’s deep economic disparities. Instead of looking for ways to reduce housing segregation, promote economic opportunity, and fund our schools and colleges, they actually imposed an austerity budget on higher education while congratulating themselves on passing a few tax cuts. Despite holding overwhelming majorities, they did little to move our state forward.

As a progressive, these two storylines combined become a powerful reminder of all the work we still have ahead underscore the ongoing challenge for progressives in Connecticut. There is widespread, strong support for progressive candidates and policies in Connecticut. There has been a considerable lack of will or interest at the Capitol to be responsive to these demands. As a result, our main goal next year will be to either push lawmakers to listen to the needs of their constituents and push for progressive policies or elect candidates to the legislature who will actually deliver for working families and build a better economy for all of us.

We are at the end of the year, so it is time for New Year’s resolutions. Here is ours: We will work relentlessly to organize, reach out to voters, build coalitions, and bring new voices to the table to push policymakers in the state forward. We will work to build a thriving economy for all of us and ensure that Connecticut becomes the most vibrant, welcoming, open, and innovative state in the nation once again.

No one said New Year’s resolutions had to be easy, right? Happy holidays from us here at the Connecticut Working Families Party, and see you next year.