Common Sense for the Common Good

Originally published on 8/28/2014

As a life-long small business owner, I have for years – to their delight — met client’s requirements and expectations when they need home improvement solutions done with care, craft and consideration for their hard-earned dollars. Frequently this means achieving balance between a homeowner’s vision and budget reality, or brokering a détente between spouses’ competing priorities. Success is rarely achieved strictly on the basis of technical expertise, time on the job, or the lowest pricing. Ask any small businessperson: listening and finding common ground between divergent needs are what keep customers coming back. I have found the same to be true as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. The more I take into account all points of view, apply prudence and common sense, the better it is for the town and the neighbors.

That is why I am running to serve as your State Representative for the 111th district (nearly all of Ridgefield except for 1000 voters near the Danbury line). Times have changed dramatically since the mid-1990’s and early 2000’s, when successive GOP Governors Rowland and Rell rashly ran up public debt while neglecting Connecticut infrastructure and education. Hopefully, times have changed since current State Representative John Frey could, with apparent electoral impunity, vote the GOP party line against critically important legislation such as minimum wage reform to benefit families, UConn’s Health Center or expanded healthcare access through SustiNet. Rowland’s, Rell’s and Frey’s misplaced priorities squandered Connecticut’s competitive advantages during the “boom” years, leaving us in a deep hole when recession hit; but we’re digging out. Doing more, smartly and wisely, is imperative. But we won’t succeed without working together.

Initiatives for the common good are important to Democrats, Republicans, and Unaffiliated voters. One such initiative is Governor Malloy’s First Five Program, which provides incentives to businesses that, depending on the size of the company’s investment, create a minimum of 200 new full-time jobs in Connecticut. Efforts to add jobs, which according the Connecticut Labor Department increased by 2,400 non-farm jobs in July, are vital to Ridgefield — good for our families and youth, good for housing, good for services and good for our local economy. Connecticut unemployment was 6.6 percent in July, down one-tenth of a percent from June, and the lowest level of unemployment in the state since December 2008. Danbury, Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford labor markets — where many Ridgefield residents work – all posted gains.

But right now all we hear from the Republican leadership, including Mr. Frey, is criticism about how far we still have to go to get back to pre-recession levels; such criticism deceptively ignores the fact that over 76,400 new jobs have been created since the recession ended — typical Republican misdirection. Creating jobs isn’t about partisanship – it’s about everyone.

Balance. Concern for the common good. Common sense. I request your vote so I may reinforce those qualities in Hartford.

Sky Cole is a resident of Ridgefield and Democratic candidate for State Representative for the 111th District.