Letter: 30 Days for Change

Warren Peña is a candidate for state representative in the 140th District

To the Editor:

In 30 days, Democratic voters of the 140th State House District will have a choice. Do you remain with an eight-year incumbent who represents the status quo, or do we vote in a new state representative that symbolizes change with progress. Change is not always easy however; “real” representation in the 140th district is desperately needed.

For those not familiar with my background, I was born and raised in South Norwalk by a single mom who worked two jobs to raise me and my two siblings. It wasn’t always easy growing up on Lexington Avenue, although I learned at an early age that there is no substitute for hard work. I went to Wolfpit Elementary, Nathan Hale Middle School, graduated from Norwalk High School, moved on to Norwalk Community College, obtained an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration, transferred to Northeastern University where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in legal studies, then to Fairfield University for Financial Planning.

About four years ago I got involved in Norwalk politics. I decided to run for Common Council and won an at-Large seat. As a Councilman, I learned to listen very closely to the needs of the community. I learned quickly that we are in dire need of property tax relief, better state funding for our schools and a real plan for economic development that creates quality jobs for the residents of Norwalk. Residents in the 140th district, by comparison to other districts, suffer the most from quality of life issues. I have personally experienced this by walking the district and dedicating most of my community work in the South Norwalk area.

As your state representative I will fight for the funding Hartford promised. It is time leaders fulfilled their end of the bargain because our property taxes need to come down. I will increase access to early childhood education and pre-K enrollment to ensure that students and teachers succeed in the district. We have begun locally in partnership with the city of Norwalk and Norwalk Public Schools by bringing in the After the Bell program right into the heart of the community. Now, we need a partnership with Hartford to help elevate the residents of the 140th district. I will foster economic development right here in our neighborhoods because the key to overcoming poverty is access to quality jobs. I will work to make certain that seniors on fixed income stay in their homes, have access to quality healthcare and create tax breaks for veterans. In order to improve the district and your quality of life, it requires proactive leadership which I have not seen by the current representation.

Warren A. Peña

Candidate State Representative 140th


13 responses to “Letter: 30 Days for Change”

  1. Ms Ruby McPherson

    Politics, Why do you think as soon as you get to Hartford, you can make these changes? It will take a lot of time and effort and you will basically be trying to move forward the same as Morris and that’s why we need to let Morris finish the agenda he’s working on for everyone, not just the Latino population. Which my taxes are taking care of and when my child needs assistance from the State have to wait. There are more Latinos working not paying taxes,sending money back, why don’t they go back and build up their country.

  2. One and Done

    The idiom of ‘better the devil you know’ will probably apply here in 140.
    What is sad here is a platform of continual slicing up of the pie for a meager existence. No grand vision, just one of pandering to this and that group with more and more handouts.
    God help Norwalk and our state if we can never get leaders who have a real vision for our future. Leaders who understand that limited and efficient government is what made this country great. Leaders who think big instead of bigger government.

  3. Bob Davis

    Unfortunately, Mr. Pena is coming fresh off the latest scandal in SoNo, which may or may not all be true, but the bits that are proven like buying a table at the mayor’s ball with SoNCC money, taking David Watts with him, taking people out to dinner, are all too much proof of a budding young politician of the worst kind. His hand is in the till and has been for some time. He may say a lot of nice things that he might think of for the folks of south Norwalk, but there can be no doubt that even the salary of the state rep is enough to motivate him. Morris is For Us.

  4. Mike Mushak

    Warren Pena’s platform sounds like a winner to me.
    Morris is for Us? Well, not if you are LGBT, who Morris has defined publicly as amoral and unnatural. Imagine any politician saying that about African-Americans. Morris has a right to believe anything he wants privately, but when he spoke out publicly against the right of millions of Americans to live with dignity and fairness, and followed that with a vote against equal rights for a large part of his own district, I have a problem with that. Especially since his job at the BOE is apparently to protect ALL students from harm.
    He says its in the bible, well, so is support for slavery (which whites used in the South to defend slavery for over a century), support for men “owning” their wives like property, and support for the death sentence to anyone eating shellfish or wearing cloth of two different materials. I guess he only believes in SOME parts of the bible that feed his point of view, basically cherry picking the bible to support bigotry, just like whites did in the South against blacks (and a few still do). Has he learned anything from black history?
    Rep. Morris has refused to publicly announce support for marriage equality even though he has been asked many times to do that. So, Morris is NOT For us. He’s only for folks who are straight, and in his mind, supposedly “natural”. I suppose any form of unnatural “sodomy” is nonexistent among straight folks, Mr. Morris. Give me a break. The hypocrisy is astounding.

    When are Mr. Morris’s verifiable professional qualifications going to be released to the public? Is he actually qualified to hold his BOE job? Why did he help waste millions of taxpayer dollars and betray his community who relied on NEON’s services, by doing absolutely nothing to save NEON while his connected friends with no management skills used it like a bottomless ATM an dean it into the ground? Are we supposed to just forget what happened to NEON under your watch as you did nothing to help your community?

    Why does most of your district still look like the South Bronx in the 70’s, with entrenched poverty and crime? Where are all the jobs you promised? Where is your strategy to fix the serious problems that South Norwalk and Norwalk in general have? Why haven’t you supported the long-overdue zoning changes to SoNo in the TOD study that will bring jobs, new affordable housing, and a new economic vitality back to your district while protecting the existing community?
    Why are we the last city in CT to start replacing its obsolete public housing projects, decades after other cities have done it? Does the entrenched poverty favor Mr. Morris’s political power perhaps, as some have suggested?

    Stay tuned. Best wishes, Mr. Pena. It”s time for change in SoNo, especially for the many good folks of all ethnic backgrounds in the struggling communities of South Norwalk that Mr. Morris has failed to protect or improve over all the years he has been in office. His record speaks for itself. Just look around, as I do at the abandoned NEON facility in my SoNo neighborhood covered with weeds and trash, and all the pain and lost jobs and opportunities that preventable failure represented.

  5. Tim D

    Mike – I agree with you on MANY MANY of your points however there’s a lot to question about Mr Pena. Most importantly: You pointed out the NEON fiasco, yet said nothing about the SonoCC disaster. Mr Pena may be sympathetic to certain personal issues that affect you however he’s clearly not much more likable/supportable/credible than Mr Morris – whom I have no use for, I might add. For me, the choice between these makes not voting the best choice – as neither candidate has much to offer to greater 140th (includes all constituents).

  6. LWitherspoon

    Mike Mushak makes some excellent points regarding Bruce Morris’s shortcomings and bigotry. I would add to that the sheer hypocrisy of Bruce Morris presiding over a DTC press conference designed to excuse last summer’s “Brawl at City Hall” between Amanda Brown and the Krummels. Mr. Morris draws a hefty salary from the BoE as an anti-bullying advocate, where his job is to promote and enforce a “zero tolerance” policy on bullying. Yet when two adults on the DTC engaged in fisticuffs, Mr. Morris took the podium and stated that there should be no consequences for either party, everyone should just move along, there’s nothing to see here! I suppose the message for the kids at that press conference was “do as we say, not as we do”.
    On the other hand, Warrin’ Warren Pena has not distinguished himself either. Mr. Pena illegally spent SoNoCC money to promote his failed campaign for Common Council, and when $25,000 in SoNoCC funds were discovered missing and taken by Mr. Pena’s Aunt, he appears to have argued that she should keep her job there because if she lost her income she would not be able to pay back the missing $25,000! Making matters worse, when SoNoCC finances were tight and NEON was imploding, Mr. Pena spent $1,000 of SoNoCC funds on a table at the Mayor’s Ball, and other funds on dinner for himself and the rest of the board.
    Further, Mr. Pena’s behavior during his term as a Common Councilman raises serious doubts about his commitment to tax relief for Norwalkers. When the City had the opportunity to save over $1 million per year by outsourcing trash collection, Mr. Pena vociferously opposed the plan, perhaps because municipal employee unions didn’t like it. Luckily reason prevailed and the outsourcing went ahead in spite of Mr. Pena’s opposition. NoN has since looked into the question of whether the savings from outsourcing were real, and City Budget Director Bob Barron verified that they are. No thanks to Mr. Pena. If Mr. Pena is going to make fiscal responsibility and property tax relief the cornerstone of his campaign for state representative, perhaps it would behoove him to share with us some examples of how he fought for either of those two worthwhile goals while on the Common Council.
    I am reminded of the comment by Mark Chapman prior to the last municipal election. I were voting I would leave the ballot blank in the 140th.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @L Witherspoon

      I’d rather not be misquoted on my own website.

      In the opinion piece endorsing — or not — offices other than mayor, I wrote:

      “We struggled with Democrat Warren Peña (for at-large council). Mr. Peña barely made it onto the council in his first run in 2011. The image he presented in debates and forums was one of a centrist, a responsible, intelligent candidate who would be all business on the council. Then Mr. Peña got involved in the bombast and uproar that marked 2012. In his role as a leader of the SoNo Community Center, he had a very public battle with the leadership at Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now, calling out that leadership over issues surrounding their shared building and NEON’s administration of SoNoCC-intended grants. While Mr. Peña looked bad at the time – and raised questions of a conflict of interest because of his role on the Common Council – hindsight gives us a different perspective. A contrite Mr. Peña, in his answers to NancyOnNorwalk’s questions, spoke of learning a lot in his first term and his desire to have another chance. We believe in second chances.”

      In the comments, in answer to a question regarding our lack of endorsements in Districts A and B, and our failure to endorse the full number of candidates for each district or at-large, I wrote:

      “…we could not recommend the Democratic candidates for any number of reasons. Sometimes silence speaks volumes. This is one of those situations where, if I were voting in every race, my ballot would have a lot of blanks.”

      The 140th is a state legislative district, and was not on the ballot in the 2013 election. And, going forward, we will no longer endorse candidates for office, a requirement of our hoped-for 501c3 status.

  7. Ms Ruby McPherson

    Mike, its a matter of taste, not all agree with HOMO, so why should you vote for what you don’t believe in, especially if your’e a christian, but you let God be the judge, read your bible. Also Warren Pena is fresh, but what we all make mistake at is jumping the gun to quick. You can’t get things done just that quick in 1-2 terms.

  8. John Hamlin

    Mr Mushak is dead on right about Bruce Morris, but the voters seem to want to reelect someone who is an open bigot and who has failed to accomplish anything of note except to promote his own career. If they don’t care enough about their district to elect someone else, what can they expect? More of the same. And that’s exactly what they’ll get.

  9. LWitherspoon

    @Mark Chapman
    Your sentiment to which I was referring at the end of my comment was this one: “This is one of those situations where, if I were voting in every race, my ballot would have a lot of blanks.” That’s exactly how I feel when considering who between Warren Pena and Bruce Morris would be a better state representative. The answer is C – none of the above! Which is real tragedy because the underserved populations in the 140th need able and effective representation more than most CT districts do.
    I could not remember what you wrote verbatim and didn’t have time to look it up, or even proofread, as you can see. So my paraphrase was clumsy. Thank you for clarifying. It was not my intent to suggest that you were against Warren Pena or Bruce Morris.
    I’m sorry that you will no longer endorse but understand the need for NoN to be a 501c3. I haven’t always agreed with your endorsements but they are always well-considered and interesting.

  10. Bill

    Pena knows the race is lost, he upset 1/2 the Latino population and now he will probably only get 1/4 of the total vote. I believe this is why he has remained on as head of SoNoCC instead of completely resigning after the corruption charges came to light. He was hoping for a state rep salary, but he sees that is now lost, so he will soon be appointed head of SoNoCC with a huge salary paid by taxpayers.

  11. Oyster

    Warren Pena has a “day job” and does not need the state rep salary or a salary from SNCC. Whatever your personal issue is with Warren, it is showing with these wild unsupported statements. There are real issues in this campaign and a real need in the hispanic community. Maybe you ought to volunteer in some fashion.

  12. potaxpayer

    This post has been disallowed for name-calling.

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