The special election for State Representative in the 148th district will take place on Tuesday, February 28th.
Although Stamford Parents United has endorsed the other candidate, Olga Anastos, we commend the over 2 decades of service Anabel Figueroa has dedicated to the City of Stamford as a member of the Board of Representative and volunteer. She represents many of the members of SPU and she has supported us on many issues, most recently getting Jacki Pioli appointed to the Board of Education.
We also believe in making sure voters are informed and that each voter has all of the information available to weigh their options, which is why we were grateful for Mrs. Figueroa's responses to our questions.
The questions and answers have been copied and pasted below directly from our e-mail communications. We encourage you to consider both candidates and make the decision you believe is best for your family and for Stamford.
Are you in the 148th district?
Find out here: www.cga.ct.gov/webapps/cgafyl.asp
Check out the absentee ballot info: www.stamfordct.gov/Home/Components/News/News/1655/
1. What experiences qualify you to be a state rep and do things like craft policy/legislation? What qualifies you specifically to represent the 148? I've been a city representative for over 20 years on the Stamford Board of Representatives where I've been doing deep dives into municipal budgets, appropriations, contracts, ordinances, and resolutions. At the same time, I've been hearing from constituents regarding their concerns about our city, so I am well aware of the community's needs. When it comes to actually crafting legislation/policy on the municipal level, city representatives have a lot of input on verbiage that goes into ordinances and resolutions. This verbiage is also vetted by the legal department. On the state level, I am told that individual state representatives don't get nearly as much control on verbiage in state laws. The process is more complex. I feel like I've been an effective city representative, so I believe I have the ability to be an effective state representative as well. Along with my fellow district representative Ms. Sherwood, we successfully advocated for the repaving of Weed Avenue. We also worked with the district 4 representatives in order to get improvements on Seaside Avenue including a lowered speed limit, a crosswalk, improved signage, and street trees. My colleagues and I on the Board of Representatives, in March of 2022, voted to expand both the eligibility of and the maximum abatement amount for the senior citizen tax abatement program. The maximum abatement went up from $2,000 to $2,250. Lastly, along with my colleagues, I supported a fee increase for building permits on the commercial side, which brought in a ton of cash to the city which was then used to pave roads. (These are just accomplishments from recent years.) 2. What do you view as the biggest issues/issues in education and how will you address those as State Rep? Stamford has a population that is needier than our surrounding communities (Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich). We have more students from low-income households and more English language learners. As such, we need more resources from the state of Connecticut in order to effectively help our kids learn. I will be supporting HB 5003, which is an effort to redo the ECS (Education Cost Sharing) formula. Stamford should be getting more from this formula AND the formula needs to be fully funded every year on a consistent basis. 3. What is another top issue for you and what specific actions would you take to address it as a State Rep? District 148 is very densely populated, and at the same time, we have a gem known as Cove Island Park. This park needs to be continually invested in. Green spaces are vital resources for the health and well-being of our community. There are efforts underway to help fix issues in the marina at Cove Island Park. Currently, there is ongoing dredging work. We need to be aggressive at obtaining grants from both the state and federal governments so that we can continue the process of improving our parks. 4. Inflation & cost of living continue to rise, plus more tax increases are looming locally for things like education due to the so-called "fiscal cliff". Describe your long-term vision for the state and the specific actions you would take in the next 2 years to move in that direction. Well, for one, the ESSER funds have been used to provide more mental health support in the form of psychologists and social workers for our kids. There was always a need before but the pandemic exposed the need even more so than before. We need to make sure that Hartford steps in to provide more money to Stamford public schools so that we can continue to support our kids in the best way possible. (See my above answer referencing HB 5003). At the same time, one source of tax increases, both on the city side and on the Board of Education side, is rapidly increasing healthcare costs for municipal employees. The city was able to save some money by going from being self-insured to moving bargaining units over to the state partnership plan. However, despite an initial savings when many employees were moved over to the state partnership plan, costs have gone up again past previous levels. On the BOE side, healthcare costs are expected to rise about 10.5% this year (based upon an estimate given by Ryan Fealey to the Education Committee in December of 2022). Healthcare costs are wreaking havoc on municipal budgets, on businesses (and disproportionately so on small businesses), and on the wallets of individuals in the form of heightened co-pays and deductibles. The healthcare industry has monopolies that exist in health insurance, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical device industry, hospital groups, and doctor groups. This monopolistic behavior is forcing prices upwards. We need to be better at regulating prices. We need to break up the monopolies. Ideally, we would move to a Medicare for All program (piloted on the state level) and the government would act as a countervailing force to push prices downward. This is no easy endeavor, but it is a worthy one. Healthcare is a human right. 5. The session has already started, how will you go up there, get up to speed, make relationships, and get things done from day 1 if you are elected? I have been volunteering for the Democratic party, and have worked on political campaigns for a number of years. As such, I am somewhat familiar with many of the members of the Stamford delegation. I have already been communicating with State Representative David Michel, and others in the delegation, on some of the legislative priorities. At the same time, no amount of preparation can truly prepare you for being State Representative until you get up there to Hartford and see how the sausage gets made. I think that coming into the job with a degree of humility, openness, and a willingness to learn is key.
Get out and vote on Tuesday, February 28th!!!