In The Loop – May 10, 2024

Now that the gavel has dropped and the Capitol Campus is empty this morning, one of the traditions I wrote about a couple of weeks back is the difficult and emotional departure of legislators who announced that this is their last year in office. In the even-numbered years, fall elections are held to choose their replacements. Tradition has it that in the final hours of the last day of the session, many House and Senate members announce their intentions not to seek reelection. Many have served decades in the hallowed hall, some a handful, and even some joined the respected General Assembly for one term only. 

Last night was a night of thank yous, goodbyes, and emotional tributes for those announcing their departure. The gratitude and fondness for the departing members is heartfelt and comes from both sides of the aisle. Last night is one of those nights when the political walls of the earlier hour’s heated debates drop and everyone steps up to the plate to recognize the work of each member who will not return voluntarily. True there’s a Veto session and months of constituent work to do and possibly a special session depending on the fate of the state budget or some other crisis, but the work of the chamber will be limited. The final curtain fell last night for one state senator and ten house members. 

Let’s not forget about the remaining 176 brave souls who as of today are looking towards another two-year commitment to serve the people of Connecticut. 

I just want to take a moment to reflect on the invaluable contributions of our part-time legislators in Connecticut. These unsung heroes, often balancing the demands of public service with full-time careers and family responsibilities, epitomize the spirit of civic engagement and dedication to the common good.

In today’s fast-paced world of modern politics, the role of a part-time legislator is not for the faint of heart. It requires a unique blend of passion, commitment, and sacrifice to navigate the complexities of policy-making while juggling the responsibilities of everyday life. From attending late-night committee meetings to fielding constituent calls on weekends, even fielding questions from local folks during a soccer game, a trip to the grocery store, or even at a family wedding – this is a 24-7, 7 days a week commitment for two years at a stint. In CT regardless of their political bent, legislators work tirelessly to represent the interests of their communities with integrity and diligence.

The challenges they face are myriad. Balancing the demands of a full-time career with the responsibilities of public office requires exceptional time management skills and unwavering dedication. Many part-time legislators sacrifice precious hours with their families to attend legislative sessions, committee meetings, and community events, all in service to their constituents. The lack of civility which is alive and well in CT further put emotional stress not only on the elected s but their families as well. In recent years, multiple threatening actions and remarks have been tossed at our part-time legislators. All because they volunteered to make people’s lives better, safer, and full of opportunities.

As they are forced to consider another two years in the role they also must seriously consider the grueling nature of election campaigns add another layer of complexity to the role. Campaigning requires endless hours of door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, and fundraising, often taking a toll on both physical and emotional well-being. Yet, our part-time legislators persevere, driven by a deep sense of duty and a profound commitment to making a difference in the lives of those they serve.

Behind every part-time legislator stands a supportive network of family, friends, and colleagues who offer unwavering encouragement and understanding. Their sacrifices and steadfast support are the bedrock upon which our legislators build their legacy of public service. As a part-time legislature, it’s pretty much full-time for when the session begins in early Jan or Feb and then adjourns in either early May or June depending on the length of the session.  

While last night was about their colleagues celebrating their contributions both professionally and personally, you as citizens also have a unique opportunity to recognize and appreciate the dedication of your part-time legislators. Their selfless commitment to public service enriches our community and strengthens the fabric of our democracy. Regardless if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, take a moment and reach out to say thanks and wish them well in their next chapters. Recognize their tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to their districts and the people who live there. Here’s a link to send an email or drop a handwritten note to say thanks and best of luck.

When I think of public service, I always recall the words of Eldridge Cleaver, a prominent figure in the civil rights movement (and full disclosure – a member of the Black Panther Party) “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

May their legacy inspire the next generation to step up and put the devices down, look around their hometowns engage in civic life, and put in the time to create an economically stable, caring environment recognizing the good in all people who live work, and play in CT. 

“And so, my fellow Americans (Nutmeggers): Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” –John F. Kennedy READ THE FULL IN THE LOOP

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