CONNECTICUT — The 2020 election is heating up in Connecticut and there are plenty of races with candidates eager to serve in elected office. Eyes are primarily focused on the presidential election, but every state representative and senate seat is up for grabs. All five of Connecticut's congressional seats are up for grabs as well.
There are 151 seats in the state House of Representatives and 36 in the state Senate. Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers with a 91 to 60 lead over Republicans in the House and a 22 to 14 lead in the Senate.
Connecticut Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.
Michele Zommer, a Southbury resident is running for House of Representatives District 69.
Party affiliation: Democratic Party
Family:married with three children
Occupation:three decades as a Communications and Marketing leader
Previous elected experience:Town of Southbury Planning Commission, Advisor to Strategic Planning Task Force
Family members in government:No, I come from a small business family, not a political family. My great-grandfather, an immigrant from East Europe, started a trash business in 1937. More than 80 years later it is still operated by the Zommer family. A commitment to service excellence, fair and honest prices, and the willingness to be innovative made this five-generation enterprise possible.
Campaign website: www.zommerforstaterep.com
The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The cost of living is the single most pressing issue facing Connecticut. As part of the Democratic majority in the House I can get things done in Hartford, advocating for a new era in consumer protection that takes bold action against the companies driving up those costs. I will stand up for our people and our economic security against Big Utilities, Big Business and Big Insurance. I will support policymaking that incentivizes municipalities and empowers the small business sector to drive economic growth and improve Connecticut's fiscal strength.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
My opponent and I agree that Connecticut needs to improve fiscal strength, but the similarity ends there. I am an action-oriented optimist, motivated to challenge the status quo. I welcome innovation to end the inertia that holds us back. My opponent is part of a negative chorus that sees Connecticut as dead, but rejects new initiative. Her message is weighted down in exclusionary, conflict-politics. I embrace the neighborly collaboration needed to be an effective legislator and represent the people and the distinct communities of Southbury, Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
To powerfully support the small business sector: I bring decades of work supporting hundreds of small business owners across the state and the nation on communications and growth strategies aimed at success. To powerfully represent the state's largest community association: I bring a half decade of experience running a statewide condominium trade association that helped empower condo owners. To powerfully respond to concerns of citizens and the needs of our four towns: I'm a relationship-builder with a vibrant statewide network of business and political resources that I can put to work from day one.
Do you believe Connecticut needs reform when it comes to electric utility oversight? What steps, if any should be taken?
Public outcry against electric rate hikes this summer showed the power of the Connecticut consumer when we act united. In reaction, our legislature acted decisively to restore an ethic of customer service and accountability at these utilities. The highlights include new metrics to measure utility performance, new forms of customer compensation, new requirements for local job creation, and new positions on the review board to be filled by ordinary citizens representing the general public.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
We have yet to understand the scope of the pandemic's impact on our small business economy. Once the damage is assessed we should analyze the relief options in the hard-hit industries. Leaders should work with the banking sector on lending protections for those distressed. We should establish stimulus programs to encourage consumer spending on Main Street. We should capture the silver-lining lessons as well: study how business has adapted and innovated to support their survival and in some cases, expansion.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
To get building again: focus on "smart" growth that defends open spaces and the environment. To champion our children and their teachers: fund 21st century public education. To protect the elderly, the front line workers, and other vulnerable segments of our communities: continue COVID-safe policies and step up technology interventions to help keep people healthy and more connected. To ensure the highest standards of emergency response: seek to formalize training and accountabilities that protect the public safety and citizen's ability to recover after disasters.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I am a common-sense leader and a courageous innovator with a constructive voice. I appreciate the people who have thanked me for standing up strong against hate speech and disrespect in virtual communities online. Being collaborative and innovative depends first on being able to play nice together. I believe in the good neighbors and smart citizens across our small state, and I am optimistic that working together we can do the extraordinary.