The Constitution State’s 5th Congressional District — a swath of western Connecticut, including Meriden and Cheshire — has been well-served by Elizabeth Esty’s first term of representation on Capitol Hill.
Esty’s a Democrat who has made her advocacy heard and understood amidst din generated by a contentious, oft-times rancorous Republican House of Representatives majority. Hers is the voice of inescapable logic — an attribute proven effective in building consensus while advancing wide-ranging legislation.
In a recent Record-Journal editorial board meeting, Esty’s personal account of the Newtown tragedy, and her direct involvement therein as that town’s elected representative, displayed the depth and breadth of her sincerity and compassion. Those human qualities were made felt in Washington, D.C., as she partnered with other representatives in demanding a national response to Connecticut’s gun-weary outcry.
Esty is also eager to take up immigration reform and, if returned to Capitol Hill, would advance the cause. As U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Mexican-American Democrat from California, said earlier this month to about 45 people at Casa Boricua in Meriden, “The Senate passed immigration reform and the House won’t even take it up.” Her theme was the need for unity among Latinos when urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, grow jobs and protect food, housing, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that impact the Latino community.
“We need more Democratic women in Congress,” Sanchez told the group. “Because Republicans want to cut, cut, cut.“ Esty is one such woman, and she’s also committed to development of clean energy, proper care for veterans and making sure those entitled receive the Social Security benefits owed to them.
To her credit, Esty notes that her “bipartisan STEM Education Act, which expands teacher professional development programs in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and increases opportunities for computer science education, passed with overwhelming support.”
Republican challenger Mark Greenberg, a wealthy Litchfield businessman and social conservative, projects quite a different persona from his incumbent opponent. His strongest credentials appear centered around real estate transactions, including leases and purchases of commercial buildings.
Greenberg deserves a tip of the hat for apparent success in advancing business deals despite what he sees as Connecticut’s morass of red tape and encumbrances relative to getting requisite permits and approvals associated with real estate and business-related transactions.
At a Record-Journal editorial board meeting this month, Greenberg was short on specifics about an array of topics, but abounding in generalities. For example, he lamented the exodus of businesses and workforce talent from Connecticut to other states. When questioned what he might do if elected to office to help stem this outgoing tide, he replied, “I’ll make a difference once I get there.”
What “difference” he’d attempt to make remains something of a mystery.
When questioned about Social Security’s viability and his support for the same, Greenberg’s vague comments fell short of presenting any viable plan to underpin the program’s future solvency. Whether he truly believes in Social Security as an essential safety net for millions of Americans, or sees it as a problematic entitlement entity which needs to-be-determined “revamping,” remains unclear. (Esty supports keeping Social Security solvent, in part, by ending Congressional borrowing from the Social Security Trust Fund and raising the income cap on Social Security taxes, now set at $117,000.)
Closer to home for both candidates, Esty has her fingers on the pulse of local issues, projects and needs. In part, this reflects her Cheshire hometown ties as opposed to Greenberg’s secondhand knowledge, given his Litchfield base.
Specifically, Esty said she hears from business owners throughout the 5th district (a territory she’s traveled extensively over the past two years) about losing time and money because of the state’s highway system. “We have a 1950s infrastructure and it’s 2014. Transportation is everywhere. It’s the perceived reason why we have a slower recovery. It has real consequences.” When asked about Connecticut’s infrastructure needs, Greenberg’s comments were limited to work on I-84 in the Danbury and Waterbury areas.
Both candidates for Connecticut’s 5th can find common ground on the need for an improved economy, job-creation and a less burdensome, less loophole-ridden IRS tax code. Beyond those center-of-gravity political issues exists the vast terrain of public policy on international affairs, military operations, funding for war efforts and effective strategies to keep America safe from harm, both in terms of outright terrorist attacks or disease control, such as Ebola. Taken together, those are topics for a Congress not paralyzed by partisan gridlock — a condition for which we see little hope regardless of November’s election results.
With impressive determination, Elizabeth Esty has tirelessly upheld her responsibilities. Without equivocation, we endorse her for another two-year term.
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