Southeastern Connecticut will be sending an unusually large class of new, but for the most part experienced, legislators to Hartford this year. While the local delegation may suffer from some loss of seniority, which plays a significant role in stature and standing in the General Assembly, it can also benefit from an infusion of some fresh perspectives and energy.
The retirements of two long-time state senators opened the door for change, with Democrats Edith Prague vacating her 19th District seat and Eileen Daily not seeking re-election in the 33rd District. State Sen. Cathy Osten, a Democrat from Sprague, took the 19th seat, which includes Ledyard, Montville and Norwich. The 33rd District changed party hands with Republican businessman Art Linares now serving the district that includes Lyme and Old Saybrook.
Sen. Osten has the experience of serving as first selectman of Sprague, and as a former corrections worker and union leader. Mr. Linares brings a different sort of understanding, that of the small businessman, which can certainly benefit the discussion in Hartford.
Other new faces include 46th House District Rep. Emmett Riley, D-Norwich, a former legislative aide to Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven; 47th House District Rep. Brian Sear, a Democrat and the Canterbury first selectman, whose multi-town district includes Norwich; and 42nd House District Rep. Timothy R. Bowles, a Democratic selectman from Preston, whose district also includes Montville and Ledyard.
We wish all these new lawmakers the best and urge them to remain focused on who they are there to represent - the constituents in their respective districts and the people of Connecticut. That may appear to be stating the obvious, but in trying to win the favor of party leaders, and when lobbied by special interest groups, it is a perspective that can be lost.
Don't feel compelled to introduce legislation for the sake of proving you are getting something done. Sometimes the best decision is not pushing an idea that will result in more laws, mandates and bureaucracy. That is particularly true now as the state continues to struggle to get spending under control and keep its budget in balance. With its number of local leaders, we trust that this freshman group well knows municipalities cannot afford more unfunded mandates.
And, please, read the bills. This can be particularly difficult if the General Assembly continues its sorry tradition of letting too much legislation back up until the final moments of a session, open the door to all types of chicanery. Speak up in opposition to that practice, freshmen.