By Chris Poulos
Since June, I have been knocking on doors. When my team was determining which doors I was going to visit, they suggested that I visit the people who have voted in the most recent state level elections. I told them NO, and that I wanted to talk to everyone who voted in the 2020 presidential election. I argued that we are in unprecedented times… so much has happened since 2020, and for me it was critical to get a pulse on what all people living in the 81st district think.
And so, I’ve gone out and knocked on a lot of doors (just over 5,000 and counting). In my travels, I’ve visited a number of deep blue Democrats, and I’ve knocked on the doors of many deep red Republicans. However, the most people that I've talked to are the ones in the middle. When these folks come to the door, I introduce myself, ask if they have any questions about my campaign, and inquire about issues that keep them up at night. In almost every case they answer with something to the effect of: Chris, I’m tired… enough is enough with the polarization.
When I hear this frustration, I typically respond by talking about my moderate and common-sense Town Council record. I share how on the council I voted for what I thought was best and right for Southington, not the party line. And then, with my approach to governing in mind, I share my platform:
I encourage my future constituents to “Imagine a state representative that will go to Hartford and be tough on crime, while advocating for appropriate consequences for those who break the law in our community.”
I say, “Imagine a state rep who advocates for tax relief for small businesses, but at the same time works to extend the child tax credit, so young families can go out and support those very same businesses.”
I add, “Imagine someone who wants to ensure we have an adequate housing inventory in our town and at the same time insists that zoning decisions are kept at the local level.”
And then education comes up. As a teacher, I know a little bit about issues impacting our schools… and I ask them to, “Imagine someone in Hartford who will fight for Southington to get its fair share of education funding in order to hold the line on our local taxes… and someone who can explain to legislators the implications of their votes on teachers, students and families.”
And I ask our older residents to, “Imagine someone who has and will continue to advocate for what's best for Southington seniors, the disabled population, and veterans.”
When I present these balanced platform items to the people I meet, many of those deep red Republicans look me in the eye, give me a firm handshake, and tell me that I’ve earned their support. And some of the deep blue Democrats I mentioned have even welled up and asked if they can give me a hug. But most significantly, the people in the middle — the people that are tired — they thank me for helping them believe again.
And I conclude these brief interactions with a hard truth, which I’ll also share with those reading this commentary: It's not going to be easy. We have to work together. We have to listen, compromise, and come to consensus to move forward. That’s what I commit to doing as your state representative. And I’ll be honest… I know, governing from the middle means I'm going to make many votes in Hartford that you are going to agree with, but also there’s going to be some that may frustrate you. Either way, I give my word: I will always do what is best and what is right for Southington. I promise to lead with integrity and civility in everything I do on behalf of our great town.
Election Day will be here soon. I ask for your support, trust and collaboration... because working together, we can make Southington a united community that we can truly be proud of and deserve.
Poulos is the Democratic candidate for state representative in the 81st House district.