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Aspiring Lawmaker Harriman-Stites Releases First Position Statement



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Aspiring 106th District candidate Rebekah Harriman-Stites has released a preview of her first position paper to The Newtown Bee offering perspectives drawn from her direct experience in various prior professional and current elected roles.The Bee that she was close to receiving the necessary amount in small campaign contributions to qualify for Connecticut's voluntary public campaign financing program.rebekahfornewtown.com. Residents may also contact her campaign manager Clinton DePaolo via e-mail at depaolocli@gmail.com to schedule a meet and greet with Ms Harriman-Stites.

The Democrat appears to have the united backing of her party, and she recently told 

This required Ms Harriman-Stites to raise at least $5,100 in small-dollar monetary contributions between $5 and $250 from no fewer than 150 individuals or "qualifying contributions" toward her General Assembly run from supporters residing in the 106th district.

To receive campaign funding, Ms Harriman-Stites must also obtain a position on the ballot, which requires the endorsement of the local Democratic Town Committee.

In her initial position statement, the Democratic candidate said she would apply her experience and expertise in three areas.

"Clearly, the economy and state budget are on the forefront of the minds of most residents," she stated. "I feel that my central ideas all help to spur, sustain, and support Connecticut's economy, while retaining and improving the quality of life for my neighbors in Newtown."

Her three areas of initial focus include: special education funding, small business support, and instituting a centralized state process or office to coordinate and apply for federal and other grants.

As a member of the Newtown Board of Education, Ms Harriman-Stites said she has seen Newtown's special education costs continue to rise, while state aid and underwriting for special education programming dwindles. And she feels that innovative approaches need to be explored, as the current system is not sustainable.

If elected, she would support three specific approaches, endorsed by the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education:

*Lower the ceiling on local responsibility for special education costs to three times the district's average per pupil expenditure and fully fund this reimbursement grant;

*Allow payment of reimbursable special education expenses to pass directly to the school district and in the current year; and

*Provide a funding adjustment in situations where special education children move midyear.

As a small business owner, Ms Harriman-Stites said she has experienced first-hand the challenges and complexities of entrepreneurship. While she believes the state must do all it can to attract and retain large corporations, Connecticut clearly relies on the strength and workforce employed by small businesses and entrepreneurs.

"It is critical that innovations like the Department of Community and Economic Development's Small Business Express Program that provides support to small businesses and spurs job growth be fully funded and better publicized," she remarked in the position statement. "Though we have made strides in breaking down barriers to start businesses in the state, processes need to be streamlined and updated to better serve the needs of start-up companies."

Since Ms Harriman-Stites previously worked for the City of Bridgeport in a Central Grants Office, she possesses expertise in researching and writing grants for, and fostering collaborations among, multiple municipal departments, community organizations, and stakeholders to create successful funding applications - as well as managing grant implementation once awarded.

Through experience in this environment and as a professional fundraiser, Ms Harriman-Stites said the importance of a centralized and streamlined process is paramount.

"I feel strongly that the state could benefit from a similar strategy, preventing duplication of effort," she said. To that end, the Democratic challenger would seek to provide technical assistance to state agencies and municipalities applying for federal funding and serve as a resource to those implementing federal grants in our state agencies.

"We need to continue to find ways to relieve the tax burden through creative funding solutions," Ms Harriman-Stites added. "Grants are an underutilized opportunity"

In the coming weeks and months as she continues her campaign, she pledges to address many more issues and explore many more new ideas with constituents.

She said she announced her candidacy relatively early in the campaign cycle "in order to take time and listen to my constituents about their highest priority items."

"I will be using this time to knock on doors, visit with residents, and truly listen to their thoughts, concerns, and most importantly, their ideas," she said. "While I know I am ready to take on this role, I know that I have much to learn. I am excited about this listening and learning process, which will continue even as I assume my new position, if I am lucky enough to be elected."

Ms Harriman-Stites is challenging Republican incumbent Mitch Bolinsky, who has also declared his intent to seek re-election.

For more information and details on the aspiring Democratic challenger for the 106th District, visit:

Local Democrat and Board of Education Vice Chair Rebekah Harriman-Stites has released her first position paper as she finalizes the necessary state and local qualifications to challenge incumbent Republican State Representative Mitch Bolinsky for the 106th District Statehouse seat this November.
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