Focusing on the big stuff for a change

Marc D’Amelio. (Contributed)

Marc D’Amelio is the Republican candidate for State Senate in District 25. 

To begin to recover from the damage that Gov. Dan Malloy has inflicted on Connecticut, we must first get our priorities right. We must separate the important from the unimportant — the big stuff from the small stuff.

Let me elaborate.

For too long we have placed few demands on our state legislators. Usually it’s been enough to see them smiling and shaking hands at public gatherings and social events. That’s the small stuff.

The big stuff happens elsewhere, in Hartford, away from the eyes of their constituents. It is when our representatives are in Hartford that we should ask: Do they vote for our interests or somebody else’s interests? It can be hard to know the answer as we’re busy with our normal lives with friends and families while trying to make a living. But then there are times when the answer becomes pretty obvious.

It is certainly obvious in the case of State Sen. Bob Duff, now in his 13th year representing the 25th State Senatorial district, which includes all of Norwalk and most of Darien. He has achieved renown as a master of the small stuff. Hardly any ribbon cutting or a ground breaking ever goes by without being blessed by his appearance before the camera. The big stuff? Not so much. Let’s look at some examples.

Just recently he tweeted the following statement: “Another transportation investment shunned by Republicans in our state. Amazing! Glad the Democrats had the vision to make it happen.”

The same day, the papers in Hartford and New Haven were aglow with pictures of Mr. Duff and his leader, Gov. Malloy, along with assorted other officials enjoying a train ride. That was the subject of his tweet. The “investment” is the new commuter rail line from New Haven to Hartford, which eventually will continue on from Hartford to Springfield, Mass.

For some reason, though, Mr. Duff doesn’t tell us WHY many people — and not just Republicans — haven’t been so keen on the idea. How many of us in Norwalk and Darien need to commute by train from New Haven to Hartford? And yet the price tag for Malloy’s grandiose rail system, which taxpayers in Mr. Duff’s senatorial district are paying a large share of, will likely amount to billions of dollars when completed. Big stuff.

The system will also require never-ending taxpayer subsidies to operate because it will never carry enough passengers to sustain itself. All this while Connecticut under Malloy verges on bankruptcy, and as hundreds of taxpayers pack up and head for the exits every week.

Another Malloy boondoggle is the new 10-mile roadway between Hartford and New Britain built for the exclusive use of commuter buses. More big stuff. It has a price tag of over $700 million. But how many of us in Norwalk or Darien need to hop on a bus from New Britain to Hartford?

Yet Bob Duff, when not showing up at ribbon cuttings, was fully supportive of Malloy in spending Norwalk-Darien taxpayer money on those distant projects.

Meanwhile, there’s Metro-North, a far more vital rail system that runs right through Duff’s district. It is vital nationally as well as locally given its terminus in the financial capital of the country. Big stuff.  But whenever Mr. Duff has bothered to notice Metro-North, it’s only to stand aside as Gov. Malloy raids the state transportation fund to spend on other things. This, as service on Metro-North continues to deteriorate, and as fares go up.

The saying in politics is that the job of an elected representative or senator is to “bring home the bacon,” the key word being “home”. But Mr. Duff’s guiding principle seems to be to bring the bacon to anyplace but home.

Rather than “standing up for you,” the slogan he trots out every election year, he stands behind a system in which Norwalk gets back less than 10 percent of the money we send to Hartford, and Darien gets back less than 1 percent.

But thanks to his years of seniority in the State Senate, Mr. Duff finds himself with the title of majority leader. His leadership of anything, however, has been notoriously absent, given his preference for servility to Gov. Malloy.

We are now in a time when a lot more big stuff needs close attention. It includes how the Walk Bridge in Norwalk will be replaced, getting our fair share of state education funding, fending off Malloy’s plan for highway tolls, to name a few. Given Mr. Duff’s history as a Mini-Malloy, how much can we rely on him to do the right thing on those and other big issues?

I don’t think we can, which is why I’ve stepped forward to be the Republican nominee to replace him. I grew up in Norwalk from the age of eight, was educated in Norwalk Public Schools, and earned a BA in political science from the University of Connecticut. My wife and I and our two daughters love living in Norwalk and have great optimism for its future. I’ve established a successful business here. I know how jobs are created.

And unlike the incumbent state senator, my priorities will be on the interests of my constituents.


Sue Haynie July 15, 2018 at 6:13 am

You’ve got my vote.

Will be nice to have a Norwalk Senator who, first and foremost, fights for Norwalk’s interests instead of politicking and self-marketing. 13 years of that is enough!

Ron Morris July 15, 2018 at 6:36 am

You DON’T have my vote

This guy is all talk. He is more concerned with Duff and Malloy, than stating anything of substances of how he is going to accomplish anything.

Piberman July 15, 2018 at 9:45 am

Democatic Sen. Duff really does represent Norwalk. He supports Gov. Malloy’s historic tax hikes, supports for our State public Unions, subsidies to billionaire hedge funds to remain in CT. That CT is widely viewed as the nation’s most mismanaged State with a failing economy is another matter. Sen. Duff looks like a future Mayor for Democratic Norwalk.

Kathleen July 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Besides the Duff-bashing in this article, where are the specific ideas of Marc D’Amelio? It’s difficult to support a candidate who just throws shade and keeps voters from knowing exactly what he would do to support Norwalk.

Isabelle Hargrove July 15, 2018 at 12:21 pm


One specific idea in this op-ed is to STOP WASTING MONEY ON INSOLVENT PROJECTS which should never have been prioritized ahead of most pressing needs.

We cannot continue to decry not having the resources to get our priorities funded if we don’t call out clear misuses of our scarce $.

Paul Lanning July 15, 2018 at 12:36 pm

There’s no denying the vast failure of our state government.
Republican majority in the State Legislature + 2020 census = redrawn Congressional district maps = CT’s House seats in Washington flipped to Republicans = shredded ACA, flawed “trickle-down” economic policies, colossal lingering Iraq war debt repaid via cruel reductions of social safety net, and blind acceptance of overwhelmingly incompetent corrupt Executive branch.

John C. Romano July 15, 2018 at 12:47 pm

Marc is a tried and true proven businessman with substance and integrity, unlike Duff he is beholding to no one. Does not take his marching orders from above and will fight for Norwalk / Darien every day in office. As the campaign progress’s I am confident Marc will unfold a comprehensive platform of not only what he stands for, but his agenda on what he will fight for for us all.

John Levin July 15, 2018 at 2:58 pm

This op-ed and the comments have made me better informed and I appreciate hearing different opinions, especially if I don’t agree with them, believe it or not.

One request: I’m one of those people who silently shudder when reading typos, misspelling and grammar errors. Folks, please consider giving it a read through before hitting send. And if you’re uncertain about spelling or grammar – these things can be checked.

Ron Morris July 15, 2018 at 4:26 pm

John C. Romano
“Marc will unfold a comprehensive platform of not only what he stands for, but his agenda on what he will fight for for us all”
Until he does he is just another wind bag like the Republican we have in the white house. NO THANK YOU

Marc D'Amelio July 15, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Ron, sorry I don’t have your vote, but something tells me I was never really in contention for it. The question of my platform has been a frequent topic and will be releasing a comprehensive platform shortly. The four points that I will address in my platform are listed below.

1. A complete restructuring of the states financial obligations.

We are bordering on bankruptcy, and have $100 Billion in unfunded pensions that require addressing as soon as possible. The solutions do not take rocket science, and anyone that has balanced a personal checkbook can understand the dilemma facing our state. We do not have a revenue problem we have a spending problem. Connecticut is living above its means, and as many of us may have done from time-to-time in our personal lives, the state has to tighten its belt. We have too many businesses and families fleeing the State of Connecticut due to financial stress and uncertainty.

2. Help create economic growth.

Once we get a handle on the restructuring of our financial obligations, we need to get aggressive to recruit businesses and jobs back to our state. I will lead a contingent of legislators and business leaders into New York City to bring jobs to Connecticut. This overt business recruitment is what the Governor of Florida did in Connecticut, and we should do the same. We might not be able to deliver entire companies, but the primary focus is jobs. I believe we can partner with New York City companies and attract them to put divisions or whole departments of high paying jobs in Connecticut. I would focus on companies that have a CEO or high-level executive living in Connecticut. Example: Does Ralph Lauren need an entire accounting department, sitting in New York City? No, we can relocate them to Norwalk or Darien for 1/2 the commercial real estate cost. Why has this not been done? Becuase Bob Duff is too busy cutting ribbons and does not have the business sense or the creativity to make this happen.

3. Improve the quality of life of all residents.

Contrary to how the media portrays Republicans we are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters and are a concerned and compassionate as anyone. I will personally lead the fight to bring a state-of-the-art YMCA back to Norwalk and bring NEON back to a world-class community center with an entrepreneurial focus to help teach young people how to create and sustain a business. With financial stability comes the ability to provide for the ones that can not provide for themselves.

4. Fighting in Hartford for the local issues most important to Norwalk & Darien.

We must think locally. If you believe Bob Duff has done everything he can to bring home the bacon, you are either delusion or ill-informed. I witnessed this first hand when I testified as a parent for Education Cost Sharing funding reform as Bob was absent the entire day. Bob has not fought hard enough for ECS funding reform all while his fellow Democrat, Representative Andy Fleischmann gets a windfall for the wealthy town of West Hartford. West Hartford has two of the best high schools in the state, has less population than Norwalk, higher per capita income, fewer ELL students but receive close to double the ECS funding of Norwalk. Representative Fleischmann was even able to get a $3M increase ECS funding in 2018 while Norwalk’s increase was $380K. Where has Senator Duff publically chastised his Democratic colleague for this disparity?

Marc D'Amelio July 15, 2018 at 4:48 pm


He has not – because that is the game of politics. You do not become Senate Majority Leader by ruffling feathers.

The fact of the matter is the Connecticut State Senate is tied 18-18, and the upcoming election is pivotal to the direction of this state. As a senator I will have a vote, I can introduce legislation that gets Connecticut on the right track, and I will fight for the needs of Norwalk and Darien. The only reason I am running is that I know that I am better suited for this job than Senator Duff. His time has passed, and we need serious leadership that can roll up their sleeves and do the hard work. I started in Norwalk as the son of a single mother; I attended Norwalk Public Schools and put myself through college. I have been a serial entrepreneur since graduating from UCONN in 1991. I started my clothing brand Madsoul in South Norwalk in 2000 and have helped take a national clothing brand from $5M to $120M in sales. I am a political outsider that brings a unique perspective to this job.

Finally, as it relates to the response of “throwing shade” or criticizing my opponent, you should get used to it. I will not personally attack him but will use any means necessary including cartoons, memes, op-ed’s to point out the facts. If the facts and truth make you uncomfortable, they should. I am uncomfortable with the reality facing our state, and that is why I am running.

Ron Morris July 16, 2018 at 2:27 am

Marc D’Amelio
Your follow up post is the reason that you don’t have my vote. It’s still a bunch of old old old reused talking points.I however am looking forward to your comprehensive platform. Hopefully it will have some real substance, as I have yet to see any from you.

Also lets hear what you have to say about the behavior of the windbag in the White House . Will you condemn his behavior or do you support it?

Lisa Brinton Thomson July 16, 2018 at 9:04 am

@Ron, Donald Trump is a false narrative in a state like Connecticut. However, in the case of Norwalk, it landed us with a 14-1 common council, resulting in a mayor who can do as he pleases, with no check and balance because the party ‘go along to get along’ mentality prevails. Malloy started his governorship wanting reform, but was shot down by the state assembly with its majority. Very little of what goes on in Hartford benefits the residents of Norwalk. For every dollar we send, we get .10 cents back. When governments get lopsided with either party there is no healthy debate on issues and executives be they presidents, govenors or mayors can do as they please.

Peter Torrano July 16, 2018 at 9:11 am


If you’re pleased with what Bob Duff has done to our city and state, then by all means support him. But as a way of letting those of us who question Duff’s commitment and work done during his time in office would you be kind enough to let us know what he has accomplished that benefits Norwalk? Can you help by explaining why Connecticut has hit rock bottom in so many important categories while Duff was steering our ship of state as majority leader? I respect your right to your opinion, but in all fairness you immediately flew to Duff’s defense without explaining why you would do so. Do as you’ve rightfully asked Mr. D’Amelio to do, and explain why Duff deserves to continue on as our voice in the state senate. Oh, and Duff’s assumed hatred of our president, the same hatred you demonstrate, should not go against Duff as D’Amelio’s opinion of your president should have no bearing on his running for a state office. We who may differ in opinion from you won’t hold it against Duff.

Isabelle Hargrove July 16, 2018 at 9:12 am

Malloy’s agenda for the last 8 years has ruined CT and Senator Duff chose to support and enact these policies. As Senate Majority Leader, he had a choice and he chose poorly. His voting record is nearly 100% in lockstep with Malloy.

If Trump went away tomorrow, how would that fix our problems right here in CT? Would it bring back our friends who left for FL or NC, would it give our kids jobs, would it lower our taxes, would it make commuting faster and cheaper, would it take care of the parking lot we call i95, would it make the proposed walk bridge monstrosity disappear, would it fix Poko, would Wall Street thrive, would companies move back into CT, would union pensions get fully funded, would CT not be running out of borrowing capabilities, would our infrastructure improve, would jobs appear, would our economy grow?

Oppose Trump all you want, but I implore you to not do it at the expense of our state, our town, our communities and our families. Let fix CT before it’s too late with new a vision, new priorities, and a new team.

V July 16, 2018 at 10:25 am

Ron- How does this sound with Senator Duff as the Majority Leader

Connecticut’s 9.6% underemployment rate is the highest in New England and fifth highest nationwide. Job growth in the state has been modest, with total employment climbing 4.7% in the last half decade, slower than the 7.6% national average employment growth over that time. Along with Kansas and Louisiana, the state was one of only three nationwide with a shrinking economy. GDP fell by 0.2% in Connecticut last year.

Only places like West Va, Alaska etc are below us. Is it too late to turn back time?

Pamela Parkington July 16, 2018 at 11:17 am

At the CT GOP debate held in Fairfield last week, all five of the Republican candidates for governor gave President Trump a grade of “A” for his work in the White House.

All five also opposed ANY further gun control legislation in CT, and all five sided with Trump on immigration policies, vowing to be tougher on immigrants in CT.

CT Republicans’ claim that they’re different than DC Republicans just doesn’t hold any water after this debate.

If a Republican Governor is elected, would Marc D’Amelio be just another rubber stamp for the party, like these Republican candidates for Governor?

So, yes, what goes on in Washington does matter here in Connecticut.

V July 16, 2018 at 12:16 pm

What more could CT do in terms of gun rights? (Besides kicking in doors and forcibly removing them). Which no one would have the stomach for. We have the toughest laws in the entire nation. None of it addresses the attention starved sickos perpetrating these heinous acts. When you went to school did you ever think about bringing a firearm in to kill your classmates? Not one commentator, moderator or reader here ever thought to carry out this cr*p.

Ron Morris July 16, 2018 at 2:48 pm

Amazing how even the Republicans cannot state what of any substance Marc D’Amelio is going to do to turn things around and how he will accomplish that. It seems all they can do is talk about what Duff has and has not done. Its time that the Republicans deal with how Marc D’Amelio is going to fix things and stop with the old old old boring reused talking points.

Also I have yet to hear what they have to say about the behavior of the … in the White House . Will they condemn his behavior or do they support it? I guess they are afraid to answer this question.

Edited to remove an insult, a violation of the comment policy.

Ron Morris July 16, 2018 at 3:02 pm

As side note I was a supporter of Lisa Brinton Thomson in the last election. I have since seen she is NOT the answer for Norwalk as she goes where the grass is greenest. During the last election she was against the 2 big party system and condemned it. She has since decided to become a Republican and I am sure she will run as such next November. I cannot support a candidate that flip flops like her as we already have one of them as Mayor.

Lisa Brinton Thomson July 16, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Ron – I appreciate your vote, but don’t understand your ‘grass is greenest’ comment. At the moment, CT has a closed primary system and I registered to vote in the R primary, as I think it’s the more critical race, where there are multiple players and iwhere candidates are talking about fixing state financials not net neutrality.

In the past, I’ve also registered as a Dem to vote in those races where I had a strong opinion. Generally speaking, I vote person not party because I don’t fit in either like most people. I’m too fiscally responsible for Ds and too socially progressive for Rs.

While this state is socially progressive, it doesn’t know how to pay for it. It also doesn’t know how to generate revenue and attract business unless it means giving away tax credits or taxing you and I out of the state. I’m sorry you feel that I’ve ‘sold out’ 🙂

I voted for Bob for many years. Sadly, I think he has become part of the status quo. Unfortunately, I don’t think he stands for Norwalk anymore nor fiscal responsibility. We’ve become an ATM machine for Hartford throw good money after bad. Just look at real estate values, which is curious since Bob’s previous livelihood appears to have been forgotten. Will the Rs do the right thing? Who knows… but at this stage the Ds have squandered it.

Ron Morris July 16, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Are you satisfied with Marc D’Amelio lack of substance?

Lisa Brinton Thomson
When you run for Mayor again will it be as a Republican or an independent? That’s what what the ‘grass is greenest’ comment” is in regards too.

Peter Torrano July 16, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Ron has been politely asked by several posters, including me, what leads him to support Duff, and to please give explanations and examples. But instead of answering or explaining he has deftly avoided doing so, turning back to Trump and D’Amelio. When D’Amelio does lay out his plan for Norwalk, what will Ron do? Will he again say it’s just the usual rhetoric coming from an opponent of his chosen candidate? Will Ron then give us reasons, or even one reason as to why he continues to be underserved by Duff yet blindly supports him? Guess we’ll see.

Lisa Brinton Thomson July 16, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Ron, It’s too early to talk about whether I will run again, not to mention a violation of campaign rules. No doubt, the mayor would come after me if I even suggested it. Although, he has been running since November (albeit) sloppily on the issues I raised during last year’s campaign.

At the moment, I’m trying to keep him honest on various policies – the latest being a public meeting tonight about reorganization of Economic Development that most folks are unaware of and that the press has not reported on.

Last November, the mayor said he would listen to the 45% who didn’t vote for him. He has not. Much like our president today, this mayor forgets which side he is on – and I am not referring to party. Today, it was wrong for Trump to stand with Russia over our own intelligence agencies and it was and is wrong for Bob and Harry to stand with Hartford over Norwalk (think the Walk Bridge, ECS and Poko) just to name a few.

Ron Morris July 16, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Peter Torrano
I have politely asked several posters, including you what substance D’Amelio brings to the table, but instead of explanations and examples, you all go back to the same bunch of old old old reused talking points Then of course you go onto Duff. This conversation is about what D’Amelio will do, not what Duff has or has not done.

Peter Torrano July 16, 2018 at 7:04 pm


I think that D’Amelio did respond to your inquires. I don’t set the agenda for him as you don’t set the agenda for Duff, but I except what he has said as his plan. The reality of it is that Duff is the one running on his record, and as such it’s fair game as it is with any candidate from either party. But although we have now heard from D’Amelio and what his thoughts are that you cavelierly dismiss as talking points, you nor Duff, whom I can assure you is monitoring this exchange have yet to give even one reason why he should be supported. What has been given is several pretty solid reasons why his constituents should no longer support him. As I first said to you, if you are happy with Duff, then by all means support him.

Ron Morris July 16, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Peter Torrano
Afraid you are not correct as D’Amelio only responded with old worn out talking points. Once again it is not about what Duff has or has not done, it is about what D’Amelio will do. Maybe D’Amelio has no real plans so he cannot respond with one. If you are happy with a person running without a plan, then by all means support him.

Paul Lanning July 16, 2018 at 7:37 pm

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives is systematically negating a century’s worth of social progress. CT suffers along with everyone else. If the 2020 census calls for CT redistricting, the controlling party in Hartford will draw the gerrymandered maps. Given this fact, I’ll vote against any Republican state legislature candidate.

Ron Morris July 16, 2018 at 7:45 pm

So true Paul Lanning. Also as you can see the Republicans cannot answer me when asked what D’Amelio brings to the table

Rick July 16, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Ron with all respect I do understand your posts and your line of thinking in this thread. Im not going to defend or support anyone, i ask you to just consider one thing.

As the above news article articulates the condition people are living in at Washington Village its on the shoulders of the democratic party clearly they are in charge.

Its also a single democrat working to fix and help those residents who are caught in the middle of all this crap along with sewage.

As long as the current leadership continues to ignore the obvious the Republicans need to step up to the plate and become involved with fixing the city at all levels. Their voice counts even if their vote didn’t last election. .

Teacher July 17, 2018 at 8:13 am


How do you plan to fix the pension “problem”? What would you do specifically to fix this problem created by both sides, Republicans and Democrats?

Concerned July 17, 2018 at 10:21 am

How are we not concerned that D’Amelio’s platform is TBD? By saying this I’m not saying I support Duff but we are going to need more information. A to-do list that slams the opponent is not a platform. I want to hear HOW D’Amelio is going to cross items off his to-do list. How will he find the money? What will he bring to the table to bring about the change? D’Amelio didn’t win the vote to sit on the BOE, so what is different now that I should vote for him for a seat at the State Senate? Which is a much bigger deal than the Norwalk BOE?

Instead of dismissing those that question D’Amelio’s platform perhaps he could release something of substance instead of a list with a bunch of Duff bashing. For me, bashing an opponent is unprofessional, common sense tells me that if you agreed with Duff you wouldn’t be running. You can’t make that your platform. Rise above the Duff criticizing and focus on YOUR platform.

I would love to hear why D’Amelio has the experience for the job. I have yet to hear that from him yet. Hopefully he will have more to say.

U.S. Blues July 19, 2018 at 2:48 pm

Ron just sounds like another snowflake lying on the floor stomping his feet and crying because criminal Hillary didn’t win.

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