By Jack Fazzino
Access to justice changes people’s lives. I see this every day as a lawyer and as an elected leader in Berlin, my hometown. This holds especially true for our seniors.
About a month ago, I was up late preparing for a judicial hearing. For the past year, I’ve defended a client in a foreclosure action, using every effort, argument, and tool to keep him and his wife in their home of almost 30 years. My client is a retiree with a fixed income. He has battled health issues far beyond what I could possibly imagine, as cancer treatments and kidney transplants are usually unfamiliar procedures for 27-year-olds like me. His need for a home went far beyond sentimental value. Without a stable living situation, he could not seek the sophisticated medical care he needed to fight his complex diseases.
We were scheduled for a full evidentiary hearing, meaning I had to offer documents, elicit testimony, and provide other proof demonstrating support for my client’s position. About five minutes was all we had. Five minutes to convince a seasoned, exacting judge to provide the one resource my client needed more than anything else. Time. Time to manage his healthcare. Time to organize his financial affairs. Time to explore real, practical ways to keep his home.
I’ll be the first to admit that my heart skipped a beat (or two) when the judge called our case for argument. But despite whatever nerves we had at the outset, we overcame them, providing extensive evidence in support of our position. We won. And since then, our chances of keeping him in his home have improved drastically.
Real people, with real concerns. My law practice revolves around them. Whether it’s providing advice to elected leaders, ushering small business owners through unprecedented financial problems, or helping retirees fight off foreclosure, I’m trained to digest volumes of information, navigate complicated legal processes, and deliver results. Access to a strong advocate can, in certain instances, mean the difference between having a home, a job, or any other basic necessity.
Among the many experiences I hear knocking doors, those of our seniors are perhaps the most powerful. Economic insecurity has forced many of our older neighbors out of Connecticut and out of the lives they’ve built here over several decades. Expensive health insurance and prescription drugs make it more difficult for our seniors to fight disease. Social isolation and elder abuse place their emotional and physical well-being at risk. Our seniors have paid their dues. They have worked tirelessly for a better Connecticut for young people, like me. They deserve an advocate in Hartford who will work just as tirelessly to ensure that our state delivers just, equitable outcomes for them.
As an elected leader, I will continue to support initiatives that create a more affordable Connecticut for our seniors. Property tax credits, retirement income deductions, and caps on prescription drugs provide a great foundation. But there’s more we can do. I will continue to advocate for accessible, age-restricted affordable housing for seniors who want to downsize. This is a true need in many communities across our state, including those in the 83rd District. I will continue to work with our local senior centers in providing community programs, transportation options, and other services that keep our seniors connected to and engaged with our communities. I will collaborate with the Department of Health and our newly formed Rare Disease Advisory Council to give a voice to those elderly patients who suffer from degenerative illnesses that often fly under the radar.
Effective representation, whether as a lawyer or an elected leader, requires a personal touch. That’s why I spend so much time knocking doors, nearly 2,500 to date, to connect with our community. That’s why I spend so much effort learning about my clients, their interests, and the obstacles that make their lives more complicated. Public service is a 24/7, round-the-clock job, and while I don’t pretend to be an expert on our district, I’m a hard worker who loves this community. I will strive constantly to truly understand what it needs. This is the personal touch I will deliver for those who need it most.
Jack Fazzino is an attorney, Berlin town councilor, and Democratic candidate for the 83rd House District. To learn more, visit fazzinoforct.com or follow him on Facebook @JackFazzinoForCT.