LETTER: Vote Kasser; Life Experience Counts When Seeking Higher Office

Submitted by Richard C. Case

To the Editor:

While much of the focus in this year’s election is on Trump and Biden at the top of the Republican and Democratic tickets, our local representation is critical as well. Alex Kasser, running for re-election in District 36, is the right choice. I do not make that assessment on party lines, but after weighing the character and positions of both candidates.

In the timespan of just one term, Kasser has already become influential in Hartford, rising to the position of Chair of the Banking Committee, and serving as Deputy Majority Leader. More importantly, she has distinguished herself by thinking independently and acting in the best of interests of her constituents.

Contrary to statements made by her opponent’s campaign, she has voted against tax increases as well as voted for tax cuts. At the same time, she has been a proponent of a bargain source of revenue for the state, where Connecticut residents would only have to pay 50 cents of every dollar of incremental revenue raised. While focusing on revenue, she has also worked to lower costs – so that Connecticut can live within our means.

Having worked as a corporate attorney at a top-tier NYC law firm, she understands the needs of businesses. She made good use of her leadership position on the Banking Committee, introducing a bill to eliminate estate and gift taxes in Connecticut, as well as reinstate tax credits for high growth industries. She understands the importance of infrastructure in supporting growth for local businesses, and she introduced and passed the first State Infrastructure Bank in Connecticut, a public-private partnership that looks for sources of funding other than taxes (including federal funds that get Connecticut more of our fair share of our federal tax dollars).

Kasser has distinguished herself by finding win-win solutions, such as lowering the cost of health care for small businesses by letting them participate in the State employee health plan – a move that costs the state nothing. She has been a tireless champion of women’s health initiatives as well, but in my opinion she has had the biggest impact in healthcare through her leadership during the COVID pandemic.

The tri-state area was hit hard by COVID-19 before anyone had time to prepare.  Decisive action was needed. Kasser led by working with the governor’s office to make sure we acted responsibly, and she was tireless in keeping all of us informed.

The politicization of COVID baffles me, but it is also clear, as we look out at much of the country going through a largely preventable surge compared to our much lower infection and hospitalization rates, that the quick and competent actions of our state government have kept us safe, which in turn has led to a more sustainable economic recovery.

The pandemic has also made me much more aware of Kasser’s energetic efforts in another critical area. As an avid fly fisherman, I will confess that I was far more likely to head to Montana, or even the Catskills, than I was to fish here in my home state. But current conditions have led me to explore our wonderful rivers, from the Housatonic, to our local Mianus, to a few secret spots I’ve found (and will keep to myself). Water that is safe and clean for trout is safe and clean for us all. Among her many initiatives around environmental safety, Kasser introduced a bill for a State Water Plan that works to keep it that way.

Of course, changing where I fish is just a very small part of how much the pandemic has upended all of our lives. We are not living in normal times, and as a husband and father I appreciate Kasser’s life experience, having worked professionally as well as working as a mom to raise three children. The responsibility that requires is a weight that cannot be understood in theory. You have to go to sleep worrying about the bills and wake up worrying about your kids to know what it means.

Policy differences aside, this is my area of greatest concern about her opponent. After less than a year holding one of the 230 seats in the Representative Town Meeting, and having held no other office, Ryan Fazio has set his sites on the upper body of the State Legislature. His professional experience appears to be limited to a stream of work as an energy trader, which is hardly management experience. And, while Ronald Reagan famously quipped about Mondale that he “wouldn’t exploit…his opponent’s youth and inexperience,” Fazio’s youth and inexperience is a real issue for me.

Like it or not, as long as COVID is with us, much of the safety and economic impact to ourselves and our families will depend on the actions our state government takes. The decisions our elected leaders will face will be hard, involving painful trade-offs. I am not comfortable having a Senator with training wheels, looking for answers in libertarian theoretical treatises or on social media. My vote will not be sponsoring a State Senate trainee.
In voting for Alex Kasser for State Senator, I will be voting for a mother who has looked in her children’s eyes in good times and in bad times, hoping she has done her best, and still wishing it could be more. That empathy, that wisdom, born from years of experience, is what we need. Balancing health, safety, education and the economy will take hard work and call for even harder decisions. This is no time for amateurs, and Senator Kasser has proven she is up to the challenge.

Best Regards, Richard C. Case

Editor’s note: This letter was received before the Oct 26, 12:00 noon deadline for letters on the election/candidates on Nov 3, 2020.