I recently attended a public forum at the Brainerd Library in Haddam at which State Representative Bob Siegrist (R-36) and State Senator Art Linares, Jr. (R-33) met with local residents.
Representative Siegrist, our newly elected representative, was well informed on current legislation, sensitive to economic concerns and social issues in our community, thoughtful and genuine in his responses. Senator Linares, a three-term elected official, frustrated local residents with oblique and diversionary responses. He consistently demonstrated a paucity of knowledge on legislative issues, was rambling in his responses, and even refused to state his position on key issues such as rising costs in local town budgets, gun violence prevention, women’s reproductive rights, and LGBT issues, including a proposed ban on conversion therapy.
The audience grew increasingly dissatisfied with his responses urging him to state his position more openly and directly. His repeated failure to do so begs the question, is it reasonable to expect our elected officials to be more informed than their constituents on legislative issues, and to state clearly to them the values that guide their policies and decisions?
Leadership means standing up for what you believe in. Without a comprehensive knowledge of current issues impacting our state, an understanding of prevailing concerns affecting its residents, and the courage to lead in the face of controversy, how can one give voice to our concerns and provide an informed electorate of effective governance? I think we have a right to expect more from a three-term state senator.
Claire M. Walsh