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Urban on campaign trail despite having no endorsed foe

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: The Day

Published October 30. 2012 4:00AM
Constituents still have things to talk about, she says

State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, may not have an opponent in the Nov.6 election, but that has not stopped her this fall from pulling on a blue and pink campaign T-shirt and going door to door most afternoons in her hometown and neighboring Stonington.

It's something she always did in her six previous campaign.

"People want to chat. I've never had anyone be mean or nasty," she said. "People are familiar with what I do and are happy to talk. It's very gratifying."

William Cutler of Mystic, whom Urban defeated two years ago in the race for the 43d District seat, was originally chosen to run against Urban again but he dropped out of the race. Since then he has registered as a write-in candidate, saying he wanted to give voters a choice.

While Urban said it's frustrating at times to see bills watered down before they are passed, she said she's been in the General Assembly long enough that she is having success.

"When you start having success, you want to see it continue. I want to be sure the work is done and put in place," she said. "I know my constituents are out there struggling in an economy that's barely getting back on track. Someone has to be their eyes and ears and have their back. And when it comes to children and families I have their back and in other important areas I'm there and pushing for them."

Urban is especially known for continuing to push for results-based accounting, which the state tried on a pilot basis in some areas. That would require agencies to produce data that shows a program is effective in order to get funding.

Urban, who heads the legislature's Children's Committee, said she has made great strides over the past two years in getting the Department of Children and Families to buy into the idea, thanks to the cooperation of Commissioner Joette Katz. But she said some agencies continue to fight her efforts.

"It's still like pushing a rock up a hill sometimes. If you turn around, it's coming back at you," she said.

Urban has also become known for her work on children's issues, animal cruelty and small business promotion.

As chairwoman of the Children's Committee, Urban has had a hand in 20 bills being signed into law to aid children over the past two years.

"We looked at how do we get successful outcomes with kids and not pour money down a black hole," she said.

She was also successful in obtaining funding for a school-based health center at Pawcatuck Middle School.

Urban said she opposed the governor's First Five program, which offers financial assistance for companies to create large numbers of jobs in the state without a results-based accounting provision that will show whether the assistance benefitted the state economy.

She said she is not a fan of spending large sums of money to lure new firms to Connecticut.

One of the big victories of Urban's last term was the passage of a bill that requires the state Department of Agriculture and DCF to cross-report animal cruelty cases, because she said research shows that those who abuse animals often abuse children as well.

"It's a huge red flag for domestic abuse," she said.

She said she also wants to make a second offense for animal cruelty a felony.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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