Oca: Kimberly Fiorello Is an Ideologue, Not A Representative

Submitted by Ryan Oca, Glenville

Much has been written about Rep Kimberly Fiorello’s very right of center views in the CT State House. What has not been discussed is her failure to engage in the art of compromise and persuasion with her fellow colleagues. This is central to why I am voting for Rachel Khanna to replace Ms. Fiorello as the State Representative of the 149th district.

Any successful relationship is predicated on give and take and compromises that assure each side is being treated fairly and with respect. This is true of successful marriages. It is also true in politics and especially applies for a newly elected member to the CT State House.

Once elected, Ms. Fiorello did not approach her new position with this mindset. Instead, she joined the Conservative Caucus, a small group of 15 House Republicans who were out of the mainstream of their party and whose opinions frustrated their Republican colleagues and were largely ignored by majority Democrats. This was not a smart strategic move for a freshman Representative and revealed Ms. Fiorello’s severely flawed political radar.

Ms. Fiorello’s votes and positions on the issues of the day also contributed to the shrinking of her political standing amongst her peers. We often hear parents or spouses refer to how they “pick their battles” when deciding whether to pursue an argument with their children or spouse. For Ms. Fiorello, every issue is a battlefield, and every potential fight must be fought. Take CT House Bill 6515 for example. This bill was created to help fight discrimination against ethnic hairstyles in the workplace. Voting for this seemingly innocuous bill would have built some political capital for a freshman like Ms. Fiorello. Instead, she voted against it. She was one of only 9 House members who voted “No” while 139 supported it. This pattern of voting no was to repeat itself throughout Ms. Fiorello’s first term in the House.

In an even more disturbing example, Ms Fiorello was one of only 3 House legislators to vote against SB358 which expanded access to breast cancer screening. It was passed unanimously in the Senate. One of the other “No” votes in the House was Ms Fiorello’s Conservative Caucus ally Anne Dauphinais, who made news last year when she compared Governor Lamont to Adolf Hitler. She subsequently said she wore her comment like “a badge of honor”.

Voting “No” consistently does not build trust with her Democratic or Republican colleagues, and in Ms. Fiorello’s case it prevented her from building any political capital that could be used to successfully address issues important to her constituents. This all leads to the central problem with Ms. Fiorello’s performance and her candidacy. What has she delivered for the constituents she represents?

Nowhere did the answer to that question present itself more clearly than when members of the Round Hill Volunteer Fire Department, which is in and serves Ms. Fiorello’s district, decided to approach Representative Steve Meskers of the 150th District when they wanted a legislator to procure much needed State funding to renovate their firehouse. That speaks volumes about the lack of confidence her own constituents have in Ms. Fiorello’s ability to deliver results. Mr. Meskers, a Democrat, is well respected and well liked in Hartford. This paid off for the 149th District when he delivered $500,000 for the requested renovations. Ms Fiorello was left out of the equation.

Ms. Fiorello’s opponent, centrist Democrat Rachel Khanna is the best choice in this election. She has received praise from Republican colleagues on the Greenwich RTM as a hard worker and productive collaborator. You won’t hear any Democrats say that of Ms. Fiorello (and few Republicans). Her platform includes fiscal positions that one usually does not hear from a CT Democrat. She wants to eliminate if possible, or at least reduce the Estate Tax and Gift Tax, is committed to tax-neutral balanced budgets, supports local control of zoning and has acknowledged that the Police Accountability Bill should be revisited to address the recruitment challenges our towns and cities are confronted with. Unlike Ms. Fiorello, Rachel is a defender women’s reproductive rights, a proponent of sensible gun control laws and an advocate for the environment.

An elected representative should always conduct themselves with the best interests of their constituents in mind. During Ms. Fiorello’s one term in Hartford, she has acted less like a “representative” advocating for her district and more like a political ideologue. The definition of an ideologue is “an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology”. In her only term, Ms. Fiorello has foregone any opportunity to generate the political clout or goodwill she may have had in Hartford. This is a betrayal of her responsibility to her constituents because it prevents her from having any impact on legislation that might be important to them. Rachel Khanna is not an ideologue. She will work well with others, and her collegiality will gain her respect and build the goodwill and political capital that she will use toward delivering results for the people of Greenwich and Stamford in the 149th district. 

Before you are two candidates. An ideologue who hasn’t been able to deliver for her constituents, and a candidate who will be able to deliver effective results for the 149th. The choice is clear. I encourage you to vote for Rachel Khanna on November 8th.

NOTE: The deadline for submitting letters to the editor regarding the Nov 8, 2022 election is Nov 1 by 12:00 noon.