NORWALK, Conn. — The League of Women Voters of Norwalk invited all candidates for State Senate and State Representative in Norwalk’s districts to submit responses to a six-item questionnaire, a photo, and a campaign URL. Here are the answers from State Rep. Terri Wood (R-141), who is running unopposed.
Considering your education, employment experience, political involvement, and personal attributes, what qualifications do you have to be a good State Representative?
“I came to public service seeing a need and gathered a group of like-minded women around the issue of environmental awareness by co-founding the Darien Environmental Group, a 501.c3 organization. From this experience, I was asked to serve on other community non-profit boards, developing leadership and board governance skills serving as president of several of them. I learned early on, the power of listening to find solutions and have developed strong and trusting relationships with fellow legislators in Hartford. We don’t always agree, though we always respect our differences. I’m known for being a good listener, problem solver and to seek common sense solutions by working together. I believe in bottom-up government that is transparent / accountable to the people. I believe in the power of the people, their individual voices and will continue to represent constituents with honesty, courage and compassion.”
In the July 2020 special session, the General Assembly passed a new police accountability bill, which the governor signed into law. Do you support or oppose that bill? If elected, how – if at all – will you change state laws about police accountability?
“The Police Accountability bill was inspired from the public outcry for racial justice sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Connecticut has some of the highest recruiting, training and accountability standards in the country. Many provisions of the bill have been in practice in Norwalk and Darien Police Departments for years. I voted against the bill for two reasons. One, it eliminates qualified immunity. Current federal law already allows bad officers to be held accountable. We also need to protect our good officers. This bill allows good officers to be sued for unmerited / frivolous reasons. This damages recruitment efforts and will encourage early retirements of good officers, all impacting public safety. Eliminating qualified immunity was a poor decision and needs to be corrected. Second, this bill was rushed through the process without a proper public hearing, input from stakeholders and precious little time for appropriate due diligence.”
Affordable housing is an ongoing concern in Norwalk and surrounding towns. What changes, if any, to state laws and/or programs will you support to address this issue?
“This question begs a deep dive into our state’s economy. Connecticut has an enormous unfunded pension liability, a large bureaucratic state government unfriendly to job creators, and a majority party that continues to prove their allegiance to the state unions with the richest pension / benefits of any state in the country. Because of this, we are neither an affordable nor competitive state. There are those in our state that believe that affordable housing is a right and an economic driver. This is a philosophy, not economic reality. The bigger question is, should the government be providing affordable housing? Is this a purpose of government or is this better left to the private sector? I will continue to advocate for common sense policies that encourage families, seniors, students and job creators to come to and stay in Connecticut. Good jobs and a vibrant economy will foster affordable housing.”
What is your view on statewide laws and mandates, as opposed to local autonomy for Connecticut’s municipalities? Is the balance about right, or should there be more statewide consistency, or more local autonomy? Give one or more specific examples that apply to our local area.
“The Councils of Government have been a productive roundtable for municipal CEO’s to exchange ideas and discuss important regional initiatives. They are a grass roots, bottom up problem solving venue. Regionalization makes sense when done on a voluntary – not forced – basis. Zoning and schools should remain under local control of individual municipalities. Recent statewide polling in Connecticut widely supports this bottom up rather than top down approach to government. Bottom up, local municipal governance is far more accountable and transparent to the people than a top down government.”
If elected, will you support or oppose the State Constitution being amended to allow the General Assembly to provide for early voting or no-excuse absentee voting?
“In 2019, I voted to support adding early voting / no excuse absentee voting to our state Constitution.”
Considering the state’s response to and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, what will your top priorities be in this regard if elected?
“My top priorities are to address our dynamic education needs by ensuring state funding confronts the dramatic impact of school shutdowns now and in the future. We need to make sure all children are educated fully and appropriately especially those children in the urban districts. Children should be in school for not only academic reasons but also social emotional reasons. In addition, we must rebuild our local economy by placing great urgency on recovery for our local merchants, restaurants and small businesses to ensure their viability. All of this needs to be done with a keen eye on maintaining public health and safety protocols. Lastly, we must bring sustained fiscal prudence to our state by re-evaluating state budget priorities and supporting policies that attract job creators.”
The League of Women Voters of Norwalk will present a virtual candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22. The event will be live-streamed on Zoom and recorded for later viewing and posted on the League of Women Voters of Norwalk website, https://my.lwv.org/connecticut/lwv-norwalk and Facebook page, League of Women Voters Norwalk CT.