State Senator Norm Needleman, seeking his second term in Hartford, is chair of the Energy & Technology Committee. Owner and CEO of Centerbrook’s Tower Laboratories and First Selectman of Essex, now in his fifth term in that role.
Senator Needleman is serious about putting partisan politics aside and finding solutions that benefit all of Connecticut, from finding new solutions in energy generation to supporting legislation to clean our lakes and rivers. He is currently working on the ‘Take Back Our Grid Act,’ energy-focused legislation that would require utilities to be monitored and judged based on performance, assisting ratepayers.
1. What do you believe are currently the three most pressing issues in the state of Connecticut?
Here are the three challenges I believe require the immediate and intense focus of legislators.
- Manage the COVID-19 pandemic so that individuals, businesses, and schools can return to normal life as soon as possible. Use science, data, and proven medical technology to develop fact-based policies that minimize the spread of the virus. At the same time, make certain that individuals and businesses can access the help they need to confront the difficulties the virus imposes on families and employers. The challenge is to maintain a credible voice in developing policies for managing COVID-19, and have worked tirelessly to help individuals and businesses in their time of need.
- Advocate to protect our basic rights. The core values of our democracy are at stake in this election. The collapse of both reason and the rule of law at the federal level…in the White House, in congress, and in the judiciary…has profound implications right here where we live. Our state government is the firewall protecting basic rights like healthcare, a women’s right to choose, and the right to vote. The advocate we send to Hartford must confront challenges to these basic rights, and make certain that the state government remains a pillar of fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for every individual in the state.
Confront the tough decisions that keep the state on the path to fiscal stability. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 virus, the state has made progress in managing the budget. Without raising the income tax or sales tax, we have accrued the largest rainy day fund in the state’s history. That fund was a vital resource in managing the COVID-19 crisis. We need to continue to manage the state’s budget process, including making difficult decisions about funding, in order to provide the long term financial stability that is essential for job creation, a healthy business environment, and a robust economy.
2. From the three issues you cite in your response to Question1, identify the one that you think is the most pressing and explain your choice. Then expand on steps you believe should be taken to resolve it and how you could contribute to that resolution process?
The three issues I have cited impact the life of every individual in every one of our towns. But protecting the health and safety of our citizens comes first. COVID-19 is a threat to every element of our society. If we don’t actively protect or citizens, every aspect of daily life – jobs, schools, recreation, social activity, family life, health, culture –– is affected. Managing the spread of the virus until medical science gives us vaccines and treatments is vital to our families, our businesses, and our state government.
There are three areas where I can contribute to managing and controlling the COVID-19 virus. First, I can continue to actively contribute to developing fact-based policies to confront the virus. I can help the state senate and the administration maintain a sharp focus on science and data in managing the virus. Common sense, data-driven decisions have kept our state among the best at controlling the first wave of the virus. I will continue to advocate policy development based on science and data.
Second, I can help develop processes and procedures that accelerate the safe reopening of schools and businesses. Making common sense decisions about how and when to reopen schools and businesses is vitally important to returning society to full function as soon as possible. My background in business and town management have been helpful in shaping the policies we used to safely reopen businesses in our state. Undoubtedly, we will need to continually refine what we do and how we do it. I can and will continue to work with the administration in developing forward-looking processes and procedures.
Third, I will work tirelessly to help my constituents access the help they need when confronted with the virus. I have helped secure unemployment benefits for hundreds of constituents, and have helped many businesses identify and secure the support they need to survive the challenges of the pandemic. Over the course of the months since the onset of the pandemic, I have been sustained by my belief that my job is to help people.
3. What personal characteristics do you embody that justify why people should vote for you?
Here is a list of characteristics that collectively comprise the reason I believe I am the best qualified candidate to represent the people of the 33rd District in the State Senate.
- I have over 20 years of public service experience. In that time, I have learned how important it is to base decisions on facts and common sense.
- I approach policy making with the perspective that comes from the real world experience of having managed the finances and delivery of services in a town.
- I believe that an inclusive, bipartisan dialogue is the key to solving problems.
- I’m not a politician, and I have no political ambitions. I’m in the state senate to help people, not to build a platform for higher office.
- I believe in our state and in the towns in our district. We are blessed with a great place to live, and it is my responsibility to do everything I can to make it better for our generation, and for our children.
- I have been fortunate in my life, but my proudest achievement is helping people through their hard times, and helping them reach and sustain a better life.
- I am motivated by the belief that I am in the state senate to help make certain that our state government remains a pillar of fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for every individual.