Newtown’s Representation In The Hands Of Voters

Published: November 01, 2018 at 04:30 pm


Along with casting votes for a new Governor of Connecticut, a US Senator, Congressional representation, a Secretary of State, a State Treasurer and Comptroller, an Attorney General, and a Judge of Probate on November 6, Newtown voters will also decide who will be our state senator and who will be our state representatives.

Those who live in the 28th District have two choices this year for State Senator: the incumbent Republican Senator Tony Hwang or newcomer Democratic nominee Michelle Lapine McCabe.

Senator Hwang, a Fairfield resident, supports a system that encourages education funding and emphasized at the October 23 Newtown Bee Candidates’ Forum that education is a priority; he promises nurturing of entrepreneurial and technology innovation, according to a recent interview with this paper. He does not view expanding gambling options or legalizing marijuana as routes to improving the fiscal situation at the state level. He is a constant in the communities he represents — to not have seen Senator Hwang at some event or another would be strange indeed. Through this interaction at the ground level, he brings to the halls of the State Capitol what he believes to be the genuine concerns of the people.

Ms McCabe, also a Fairfield resident, has advocated healthy school meal options, run the Food for Thought Expo, and served at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. She has been a food policy analyst with the Hartford Food System and hunger Outreach Coordinator of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport. Her strengths lie in her experience as director of the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED) in the Bridgeport area, as well as an ability to work with limited resources to get results. Like Mr Hwang, she sees the necessity of attracting businesses to Connecticut — and thus, retaining residents young and old in our state — in order to improve the economy. Affordable housing and transportation are two areas she would address. Her outlook comes across as positive and one of achieving success by thorough evaluation of each issue.

Mitch Bolinsky is in his third term as representative for the 106th District, the largest piece of Newtown. He is the assistant Republican Leader and serves on the Appropriations, Education, and Aging Committees. He was active in Newtown town government before taking on the role of state representative.

Mr Bolinsky has been active in supporting the legislation that protects Newtown’s education, senior citizens, the Second Company Horse Guard, and local infrastructure and construction projects. He is a familiar sight at local programs and events, taking time for serious conversations and moments of levity.

He is challenged this year by Rebekah Harriman-Stites, vice chair of the Board of Education and founder of Newtown Forward as well as a small business owner. While she realizes she is up against an experienced opponent, she comes across as unfazed, with a positive attitude. Previous work in Hartford gives her connections that she believes will be beneficial to her as a freshman representative.

She sides with what she believes to be right, eschewing politics, though she is the Democratic pick. She believes in listening to both sides of an issue; takes time to learn about issues, and then makes a reasonable decision — strengths she has exhibited as a member of the Board of Education.

Raghib Allie-Brennan is up against incumbent Will Duff for representative of District 2, which encompasses Danbury, Bethel, and a small part of Newtown. This is the second attempt for the young Bethel resident to secure that position. A former congressional advisor in the US House of Representatives and board member of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Triangle Community Center, and the HERO opioid epidemic awareness project, Mr Allie-Brennan comes across with far more confidence than when he challenged Mr Duff in 2016, unafraid at the October 23 forum to respond to others’ differing opinions and clarify his positions. His focus is on small businesses, public education, and the environment.

Will Duff is experienced as the Second District’s representative and serves on the banks, energy and technology, Higher Education, and Employment Advancement committees. A lifetime Bethel resident, Mr Duff has a wealth of community experience backing him up — experience that served him well in the 2016 elections.

The 112th District voters, including a smattering of those on the southern end of Newtown, are apparently content with representation by JP Sredzinski. Mr Sredzinski is unopposed this year and guaranteed a return to the State Capitol.

The incumbents have received numerous endorsements and have impressive resumes of bills proposed and bills voted upon. This year’s newcomers, however, have not had the same opportunities to weigh in on issues at that level of government. It takes time to make connections and prove one’s worth, a process familiar to every statesman and stateswoman who has tackled a new political environment.

Newtown has not been poorly represented in recent years. But introducing some new approaches and a commitment to learning and continued growth will be useful in coming years.

Raghib Allie-Brennan exhibits the spirit of a new generation. He should have the chance to make those critical connections. Mr Duff has had the opportunity, and while he now has his foot in the door, it is not clear he can continue to step forward. Mr Allie-Brennan is our choice as representative for the 2nd District.

Ms Harriman-Stites has the nerve and the energy to represent Newtown; she will be a powerful candidate going forward. For now, Newtown will find a solid representative in Mitch Bolinsky for the 106th District.

Ms McCabe has made a point of meeting those who populate the 28th District and hearing their concerns throughout the campaign season, and she has succeeded in making her name nearly as household as the man she challenges in this race. She was ready with answers to questions posed at the forum on October 23. She is clearly a force to be reckoned with in state politics, and we expect to see her figure prominently in future elections.

We respect Mr Hwang for all he has done to represent the people of the 28th District. His exuberance and embrace of Newtown and the four other towns he has represented is hard to deny. His experience is valuable, and while others talk about reaching across the aisle, Senator Hwang’s hand is always extended. We believe he is the person to seek opportunities for a fresh approach that will move us from a state of apathy to a state of action. We stand with Tony Hwang for Senator of the 28th District.

It is in the hands of voters on November 6; but we are confident that Senator Hwang, Mr Bolinsky, and Mr Allie-Brennan will represent our town and neighboring communities to the best of their abilities.


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