Door to Door with Senate Candidates for Southeast Connecticut

Every day of the 2020 campaign for the Connecticut State Senate has run under a shadow of pandemic, with reports in the final weeks before election day of increasing hospitalizations and a rising statewide daily positivity rate for COVID-19. “A second wave,” Gov. Ned Lamont called news on Thursday of a 6.1 percent state positivity rate. But with time still before the election, candidates are finding ways to get out the vote and get in touch with district residents. To get a flavor of the election and a sense of the challenges, CT Examiner checked in on two competitive races

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Green Party Drops McCormick After Inflammatory Facebook Comments

The Green Party of Connecticut announced on Friday that it had dropped its support for Tom McCormick, the party’s candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson after McCormick posted inflammatory comments on social media. In a statement, the Green Party of Connecticut said it dropped support for McCormick because, in response to a post on the Manchester, CT Crime & Safety Watch Facebook group about a theft of tires from a car, he said, “The thieve (sic) needs a necktie.”  Activists from two Hartford-area groups advocating for racial justice – POWER UP –

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Goulart and Nolan Stake Different Directions in New London Race

After competing once before in a 2019 special election to fill the seat of then-State Rep. Chris Soto, who left to join the incoming Lamont administration, Democrat State Rep. Anthony Nolan and Republican Kat Goulart face off again to represent New London and the 39th District in the State House of Representatives.  Nolan, a father and grandfather, longtime New London police officer and 4-term city council member who won 51 percent of the vote in the four-way 2019 race, said he is hopeful for a second-term in Hartford. Goulart received 14.7 percent of the vote in that race. “I think I’m

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Policing Drives Race Between Howard, Rotella

The police accountability bill is at the forefront of the race between first-term incumbent State Rep. Kate Rotella, a Stonington Democrat, and her challenger Greg Howard, a Republican and longtime Stonington police detective. Howard won the endorsement of the Republican Town Committee after Shaun Mastroianni withdrew from the race in early August. After Rotella appeared at a protest outside of the Stonington Police Department and voting twice for policing bills, Mastroianni stepped aside to allow Howard to run, according to The Day. In an interview with CT Examiner, Howard described himself as an expert on the police accountability bill, which

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Southeast Connecticut Towns Best Statewide Absentee Voting

With a week to go before the Nov. 3 election, a survey of town clerks and registrars in towns across southeast Connecticut shows that voters in the region have requested and returned ballots at a rate exceeding already high statewide totals. In many of the towns that number is 75 percent or higher. In Chester, for example, 83 percent of the people who requested absentee ballots have returned them; in Stonington, 79 percent of the absentee ballots issued have already been returned.  The Connecticut Mirror reports that statewide 70 percent of the more than 455,000 people who requested an absentee

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Melón, Haines Offer Sharp Contrast for Fall Election

Educator and real estate agent Judd Melón, an East Haddam Democrat, is challenging one-term incumbent State Rep. Irene Haines, an East Haddam Republican, for the chance to represent Connecticut’s 34th House district, that includes East Haddam and East Hampton. Melón taught Spanish literature and language in college and public high school for 10 years, and is a licensed real estate agent, but he said that he put teaching on hold to challenge Haines because he disagreed with several votes she’s taken, including votes against the minimum wage increase, expanding paid family and medical leave, and police accountability bills in 2019

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Palm Makes Her Case for a Second Term

Former Republican State Rep. Robert Siegrist is running to unseat one-term incumbent Democrat Christine Palm in a rematch of their 2018 race for state representative in the 36th district, which includes Chester, Essex, Deep River and Haddam. In their previous contest, Palm bested Siegrist by a margin of 212 votes, 50.8 to 49.2 percent. Palm has been endorsed by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, the Sunrise Movement, and the Sierra Club of Connecticut. She has worked variously as a reporter, teacher, and a communications director for several nonprofits, and she provides sexual harassment trainings for corporations. She also previously

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Streicker, Paglino Challenge Long-time Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

Democrat Rosa DeLauro is running for re-election after representing Connecticut’s third district in Congress for the last 30 years. DeLauro faces Republican Margaret Streicker, an entrepreneur and single mother of four from Milford, and Green Party Candidate Justin Paglino, a physician and father of two from Guilford. After initial agreements in September by press aids, DeLauro’s campaign later declined to participate in this story. Streicker and Paglino, however, had a lot to say about why they think it’s time for a change in representation for the third district.  “I want people to understand that they have a choice. This is

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McCarty and Welch-Collins — By the Issues

In a rematch of the 2018 election, incumbent Republican State Rep. Kathleen McCarty faces Democrat Baird Welch-Collins in a race to represent Waterford and Montville in the Connecticut General Assembly. In their previous contest, McCarty bested Welch-Collins by 351 votes, 51.6 to 48.4 percent. After three terms in Hartford and six years on the legislature’s Education Committee, McCarty — who also served for 20 years on the Waterford Board of Education — said that her focus will remain on schools and students if she is re-elected.  “We are going to be more challenged to narrow the gaps in education that

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Cheeseman and Steel Offer Contrasting Views in Race for State House

Cate Steel, an East Lyme Democrat and retired speech pathologist, is challenging incumbent two-term State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, a Republican, and executive director of the Niantic Children’s Museum, to represent East Lyme and Salem in the 37th District. Cheeseman is a graduate of Mount Holyoke and a former selectman of East Lyme. In 2018, she defeated Democrat Hugh McKenney 51.4 to 48.6 percent, a margin of 310 votes. Steel, who worked 35 years as a teacher and educator, currently serves on the East Lyme Board of Education. Asked about how they would prioritize state budget choices — in August, Gov.

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Hall, Goupil, May Vie for Connecticut House Seat

Three candidates are competing to replace three-term Republican incumbent Jesse MacLachlan, who represents the 35th District — the towns of Clinton Westbrook and Killingworth — in the state legislature. MacLachlan announced that he would not seek re-election in August. In 2018, MacLachlan defeated Clinton Democrat Jason Adler with 52.5 percent of the vote. The Democratic nominee, Christine Goupil, was elected First Selectman of Clinton in 2017, on a platform that included replacing the position with a town manager. By the end of her first term in 2019, the town approved the plan and hired Karl Kilduff to manage the town.

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Formica – Marx Offers Clear Choice in Senate Race

Democratic challenger Martha Marx is once again hoping to unseat Republican State Sen. Paul Formica in a rematch of their close 2018 contest to represent the 20th district, and the towns of Bozrah, East Lyme, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford.  A three-term incumbent, Paul Formica is Deputy Senate Republican Leader, Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Technology Committee. He is a past vice-chair of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments and served as First Selectman in East Lyme from 2007 to 2015. For 35 years, Formica has owned and operated Flanders Fish

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Somers and Statchen Stake Positions in Rematch of State Senate Race

Republican State Sen. Heather Somers is running for a third term in the 18th district against Democrat Robert Statchen. This is the second time the two have competed for the chance to represent the towns of Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington and Voluntown in the State Senate. In 2018, Somers won with 54.7 percent to Statchen’s 45.3 percent of the vote. Somers said that she has the most bipartisan or independent voting record in the Senate — a consistent theme, she says, of her campaign and time in Hartford. “For years now, I’m somebody who is challenging

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Sharp Contrast as Weir Faces Osten in Senate Race

Four-time Democratic incumbent Cathy Osten, faces Hebron business owner Steve Weir, the Republican candidate, in the race for the 19th State Senate District, representing Sprague, Hebron, Columbia, Franklin, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville and Norwich. Osten, an Army veteran and long-time corrections officer and supervisor,has been co-chair of the Appropriations Committee — a key state budget committee — since  2017. She also serves as vice-chair of the Labor and Public Employees committee. She said that she is running to make a difference and represent her constituents. In 2019, Osten lost a bid for a 7th term as Sprague’s first selectman. Steve

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Cohen and LaPorta Sketch Out Priorities for Senate

Freshman incumbent Democrat Christine Cohen is running for re-election against Republican Joe LaPorta for the 12th District’s State Senate seat, representing Madison, Guilford, Branford, North Branford, Durham and Killingworth. Cohen, who chairs the Environment Committee, and founded and co-chairs the Coastal Caucus, “a bipartisan group of lawmakers who focus on the issues affecting coastal towns, cities and waterways,” has taken a prominent role in issues affecting the environment. Cohen also co-chairs the legislature’s Bioscience Caucus, where she works to promote the state’s biotechnology industry.  With her husband, Cohen also owns Cohen’s Bagel Company in Madison. They live in Guilford. “We

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A Closer Look the State House Race Between Dave Rubino and Devin Carney

Newcomer Democrat Dave Rubino, a human rights lawyer with a practice in Old Lyme, is challenging incumbent Republican State Rep. Devin Carney, an Old Lyme resident and native of Old Saybrook. Carney has held the house seat in the 23rd district, representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, since 2015. Carney, who sits on the Transportation, Finance, and Planning and Development committees, said that “the biggest issue is how we are going to move forward from COVID.” He described the challenge as “multi-faceted,” involving public health and the economy. “Obviously we’ve had a lot of issues because of businesses

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Needleman and Saunders Stake Positions on Coming Term if Elected

In 2018, Democrat Norm Needleman of Essex won the long-held Republican State Senate seat for the 33rd district by just 0.2 percent of the vote. This November he faces Republican Brendan Saunders of Westbrook in what may well again be a close race in a district that stretches from Clinton to Deep River to Portland.  For Saunders, who formerly pastored a Baptist church in Old Saybrook and currently works full-time at a hotel in Colchester, the number one reason he’s running is because he believes the district needs a voice in Hartford more representative of the district. “When I looked

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Legislature Approves Early Processing of Absentee Ballots

HARTFORD — On Thursday, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill that would make it possible for absentee ballots to be processed on the Friday before election day. The bill passed the House on Wednesday 139-5 and the Senate on Thursday 35-1.   In July, the legislature passed a measure allowing any voter to use COVID-19 as a reason for voting by absentee ballot, a change that could substantially increase the number of absentee ballots that municipalities receive.  State Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, the chair of the Government Administration and Election Committee, said the purpose of the bill was to ensure

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State Officials Call Tuesday Primaries a ‘Learning Experience’ for November Elections

With more than eight times the usual number of absentee ballots cast in many municipalities across the state, Tuesday’s primary election has given the Secretary of the State and local registrars a lot to consider as November approaches. “Yesterday was a giant lesson and looking toward November we are of course worried about everything,” said Gabe Rosenberg, the communications director for the Connecticut Secretary of the State. “It was obviously a learning experience to do this and now do it again for a pretty important election in November.” According to Rosenberg, the number one challenge facing the state and municipalities

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Jesse MacLachlan Explains Decision to Opt Out of Race for State House Seat

State Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, R-Westbrook, announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election this year for the 35th District seat he’s held for three terms. MacLachlan started his own business, Avalon Infrastructure, late last year, and it became clear that he needed to choose between public service and his business, “as someone who goes all in with what I do,” he said. “Unfortunately, the nature of a part time legislature forces many of us to choose between our service or our careers,” MacLachlan said. “At 30 years old, I feel that it’s the right time for me to focus on

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UPDATED: Senate Votes to Approve Expanded Absentee Voting, 35 – 1

The Connecticut Senate voted 35-1 to give its approval to the bill that would expand absentee voting during the 2020 November election after a lengthy debate Tuesday. Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, raised two amendments that the Senate voted down. One would have removed the special ballot boxes the Secretary of the State’s office bought for absentee ballot collections.  The other would have prevented the Secretary of the State from mailing out “unsolicited” absentee ballot applications, which some Republicans have criticized Secretary of the State Denise Merrill for doing ahead of the August primary election. Sampson voted in favor of the

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Planning and Zoning Candidates Draw Sharp Lines in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — In the last several weeks, three candidates for the Planning Commission and three for the Zoning Commission individually discussed their reasons for running and their goals for the town during phone interviews with CT Examiner.  Out of the eight total candidates across the two commissions, two Democrats and four Republicans responded to CT Examiner’s request for phone interviews and answered questions about the future development of the town.  Planning Commission — Ross and Klose Democratic candidate and incumbent alternate Alexander Klose, is competing with incumbent board member Steven Ross, a Republican, for a seat on the Town

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Letter: Who Will Run Old Lyme?

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I attended the debate between Bonnie Reemsnyder and Tim Griswold. One issue stood out. Our current Selectwoman continually explores solutions to our problems by going to outside sources. She is content to have East Lyme, New London, New Haven, and Hartford address our problems and manage our community. Tim Griswold believes in the people of our town. Your friends and your neighbors. Tim acknowledges our town is unique, and we the people of Old Lyme are well equipped to solve our problems. Policing, affordable housing, and Halls Road are all examples of outsiders being courted to change Old Lyme versus

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Letter: Griswold Offers Measured Leadership to Challenges Facing Old Lyme

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There are many reason to support Tim Griswold for first selectman of Old Lyme, but here are three issues that I believe we should carefully consider before voting in the November 5 election. Halls Road For 5 years, the current administration has outsourced Halls Road improvements to an ad-hoc “Halls Road Improvement Committee” with no results except for a cost of $40,000 paid to the Yale School of Urban Design (YSUD).  Alan Plattus, of the YSUD, stated in a public meeting that: “Halls Road is Broken.” I think that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Halls Road, specifically the Old

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Briefly, the Old Lyme Selectmen Debate

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Nearly 200 people filled Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School’s auditorium on Wednesday night for the selectman debate between Democratic incumbents Bonnie Reemsnyder and Mary Jo Nosal and Republican candidate Tim Griswold. The audience was filled with town residents including several candidates for other offices in Old Lyme. Current Republican selectman Chris Kerr, however, was not present. Kerr submitted an opening statement, but otherwise declined to participate in the event. The decision was made to host the event in an empty seat format which gave equal time to all candidates present. The Lyme Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce sponsored event was moderated

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Essex Candidates for First Selectman Sound Off

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With a $900,000 surplus, and a mill rate that has fallen each of the last two years, Norm Needleman, the incumbent running for a fifth consecutive term as first selectman of Essex, says that Essex has never been better. Matt Fleming, his challenger, says that if elected his priority will be to keep costs under control. However, unlike Needleman, Fleming does not think the town has been doing a good job of that. “The mill rate went down, but assessments on houses went up, explain to me how that helps,” Fleming said. “He is passing things in Hartford right now

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Secretary of the State Certifies Tim Griswold as Republican Candidate for First Selectman of Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — With 189 valid signatures, the secretary of the state’s office has certified Tim Griswold as a candidate for first selectman of Old Lyme. He will appear on the ballot for the November 5 election as the Republican Party candidate. “I am gratified by the support of Old Lyme republicans and look forward to beginning the campaign that will promote our outstanding slate of candidates,” Griswold said. If elected, Griswold said he will focus on wrapping up a number of ongoing projects, including of the combining police forces with East Lyme, sewering the Old Lyme beach communities, the

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Tim Griswold Starts Petition Drive to Appear on Ballot for First Selectman of Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — With only five days left before the deadline to submit a petition, Tim Griswold has begun collecting signatures to appear on the ballot in November for first selectman of Old Lyme. Griswold, who previously served as first selectman for 14 years until losing a 2011 election to current incumbent Bonnie Reemsnyder, decided to run again he said to make sure that all town residents have a choice when they go to the polls this year. “I think really giving people a choice is quite important. I know when I did seven terms, I think one of them

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