Cos Cob mother of four Laura Kostin, who won a seat on the RTM in District 8 last fall, is seeking the DTC’s nomination to run for State Rep District 151, the seat held by Republican Fred Camillo, who is seeking a sixth term.
Kostin, who has the executive committee’s endorsement, will present to the full DTC on Wednesday.
Whereas Alex Bergstein received Democrats’ endorsement to run against Scott Frantz in the 36th district, which includes Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford, there will be no caucus for Kostin, as District 151 is entirely in Greenwich.
Referring to the longtime RTM district 8 leader Chris von Keyserling who was charged by Greenwich Police with Sexual Assault 4th degree in January 2017, Kostin on Wednesday explained why she ran for RTM in 2017.
“I decided to enter because I did not want Chris von Keyserling representing my district or my family,” she said.
Kostin said at the time she was recovering from a Caesarean section after giving birth to her fourth child, and took her preschooler door to door for petition signatures. “It was a lesson for both of us,” she said.
And while dozens of women were inspired by March On and Indivisible Greenwich, Kostin said neither group recruited her, and that she was at the time unaffiliated with a party.
“I didn’t even know about either of those groups until I read about them on Chris Fountain’s blog,” she said. “It was an eye opener to the dirtier side of politics,” she continued, referring to that blogger’s call to his readers not to vote for women petition candidates and her letter to the editor denouncing Fountain as misogynistic. “To be the subject of personal attacks is reprehensible,” she said.
Kostin, whose oldest child is 12, left a job as a breaking news producer at MSNBC in January 2018 after having her fourth child, said the shift she worked was 4:00pm until midnight.
“I covered everything from Trump rallies that went south to plane crashes to mass shootings, which there are far too many in our country,” she said. “It was gratifying work, but I wouldn’t get home until around 1:00am.”
Sharing more on her background, Kostin said she comes from a family of immigrants.
“My mother was born here, but her parents are Armenian genocide survivors. My dad came here before the revolution in Iran and went to college here. My mom is Christian. My dad, while not a practicing Muslim, came from a Muslim country,” she said, going on to describe her husband as a very nice adorable Jewish man from West Hartford.
“We have all three religions in our family and somehow we survive Thanksgiving dinners,” she said.
Referring to a crisis in civility in US politics, Kostin said, “I knew once I heard Donald Trump criticize John McCain’s military record that he was not somebody I could support. I don’t believe we should be governed by a volatile Twitter feed.”
As for the upcoming November 2018 elections, Kostin said she has no reason to believe behavior during the election season will be any better. “All you can do is control your response and try to rise above,” she said.
Asked to comment on State Rep Fred Camillo’s record, Kostin, who said she has never met Mr. Camillo, said she’d studied his voting record.
“I don’t feel Fred has accomplished a lot,” she said. “We’ve had more of the same for a very long time.”
“I know he likes dogs, and 5 out of 15 bills he sponsored this legislative session were all related to animals,” Kostin said. “That is admirable, but that is not a platform for a legislator.”
Kostin questioned Camillo’s support of HB5009, which would exempt car washes from the sales tax. “Why are we playing favorites with the tax code?” she asked. “If our budgets are so stressed, why take money out of the coffers?”
Kostin said the state’s failing infrastructure should be more of a priority. “It’s unfortunate that legislators this session were too cowardly to bring tolls to a vote,” she said. “I think our state desperately needs investment in infrastructure in order to keep and grow jobs.”
“My opponent calls tolls a tax, which they are not,” Kostin continued. “On the train you ride, you expect to buy a ticket and pay for the use of that asset. Right now people use our assets for free. I’m from New Jersey and tolls are a way of life and they’re pretty lucrative. They brought in $1.6 billion in 2016. There is a pricing structure that is pretty palatable.”
Asked what would be her priorities in Hartford, Kostin said she’d push for an equal pay law to close the gap between salaries for men and women.
“We have a pay gap bill that has been passed which prohibits new employers from asking your salary history, but does nothing to close the gap between genders when it comes to pay,” she said. “Women make 86¢ on the dollar compared to men. In this day and age seems ridiculous.”
Kostin also supports legalizing marijuana. “According to Sacred Heart University poll, 76% percent of people in Connecticut support legalizing marijuana, which is already decriminalized in the state. They not only support legalizing it, but they support taxing it. It could be a lucrative source of income.”
Kostin said she also favors a bill that would ban ghost guns.
“Ghost guns are minimally assembled online and there are YouTube videos on how to assemble them,” she said. “Then you finish making them in your home. Often they don’t have serial numbers so they’re not traceable or regulated.”
Kostin acknowledges she is a newcomer to politics, but hopes voters will remember that she has been an advocate of testing soil in town, and opponent of artificial turf.
“I feel that soil testing was a hot button issue that shouldn’t have been because it involves our kids’ safety, and it seems a huge liability for the town as more fields come up contaminated,” she said.
“We’ve pivoted against crumb rubber but there’s a lot of it left in town,” she said. “Cardinal stadium has Envirofill, which is a less studied surface, but I’m grateful they did not install a crumb rubber surface when they redid that field.”
“I have to knock on a lot of doors and introduce myself and hope that as voters people will get to know me, come to coffee gatherings, and that they will see that maybe it’s time for new fresh voices,” she said.
Kostin will speak to the full DTC on Wednesday and hopes receive their nomination.