By David Bedell
My name is David Bedell, candidate for state Senate district 34, a suburban/rural district that includes Wallingford, North Haven, and parts of East Haven, Durham, and North Branford. I grew up and attended public schools in North Haven, graduating from North Haven High School in 1980. I now live in Wallingford, where I moved to be a caregiver to my parents during their last years.
Returning to New Haven County after years spent in Southwestern Connecticut, I’ve come to appreciate the quality of life here, with its farms, forests, scenic rivers and ridges. In Wallingford, I’ve spent hours volunteering at Tyler Mill Preserve, on the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail Advisory Committee, and on the board of the Wallingford Land Trust. My goal is to maintain this quality of life by protecting open space, preserving farmland, and assuring clean air, clean water, and opportunities for outdoor recreation for generations to come. We all deserve a safe, healthy environment to raise families and grow old.
My background is not in politics — nor ecology — but in education. I have spent most of my career teaching English as a Second Language, which has brought me in contact with people of all cultural backgrounds, whether here as immigrants, refugees, tourists, students, or visiting workers. It has been my good fortune to learn every day from my students as much as they learn from me. I have also served many years on the board of Teachers Against Prejudice, an organization founded by my late partner to promote understanding and respect for all by fostering empathy and bridging some of the divisions that afflict our society.
My other civic role is as a Justice of the Peace. Over the years, in Fairfield County and now in Wallingford, it has been heartening to meet with couples and help them come together as they launch new lives, in partnership and hope for a shared future. I’ve witnessed successful marriages between people of same or different faiths, same or different races and nationalities, same or different genders, and I am convinced that a diverse community can be equally successful.
What are the challenges we need to address in Connecticut? When we speak of diversity, we have to recognize and respect diversity of political belief. Recent years have seen growing animosity between Democrats and Republicans. As a member of neither major party (I am a Green), I think most voters are tired of the blame game and just want their government representatives to work on solutions. To move forward, we need election reform.
■First, I hope you will vote “Yes” in November to allow in-person early voting. Connecticut is one of only four states that do not offer some form of early voting to everyone. While petitioning to get on the ballot, I spoke with many voters, and even those who had reservations about mail-in ballots agreed that early voting at town halls or elsewhere would make it easier for the elderly, people with disabilities, and people with tight schedules to vote without having to deal with crowds or waiting lines on Election Day.
■Second, we need to implement ranked choice voting, which has met with success in Maine, Alaska, New York City, and many municipalities. RCV allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. It encourages more candidates to run without fear of “spoiling” another candidate’s chances. In places with RCV, election campaigns have become more civil, with fewer attack ads and more discussion of the issues. If you are a candidate, you want voters to select you as their second choice, if not first, so it is counterproductive to throw mud at a voter’s first-choice candidate. With RCV, no candidate can win without a broad base of support (over 50%).
■Third, we need to get big money out of politics. The Citizens’ Election Program has helped, but we need to make it equally accessible to all candidates, not just the major parties. Even well-intentioned politicians can’t help being influenced when beholden to special-interest donations.
For my views on the economy, taxes, the environment, transportation, etc., please watch the candidate forums, read published voter guides, or follow me at www.green34.us.
David Bedell is the Green Party nominee for the 34th district state Senate seat.