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Paid for by Keith Denning for State Rep, Burdette W Holtgrewe, Treasurer
Approved by Keith Denning
by Keith Denning
Candidate for State Representative, 42nd District
I’ve knocked on thousands of doors during this campaign, listening to voters and hearing what they have to say. From the beginning, I expected to meet people who have concerns about state government alongside those offering new and interesting ideas that challenge my perspective.
What I did not expect to hear is the false narrative on school regionalization and state-enforced zoning mandates being spread by those more interested in fearmongering than in facts. I want to make it very clear to everyone in the 42nd District where I stand on these critical issues.
I do not support regionalizing our schools, nor does the Democratic Party at large. In fact, in 2019, Democratic [State] Senator Will Haskell took a strong stand against school regionalization. Thanks to Democratic control of the legislature and the governor’s mansion, no regionalization bill has even come to a vote.
Likewise, I do not support state mandates to force zoning changes in our towns. While we do need creative solutions to address our very real housing needs, coercing local government simply does not work. Businesses seek to locate in communities where employees can afford to live. Local housing discussions must also focus on the hardworking people in our schools, police departments, and hospitals, on those raising young families, and on seniors and retirees who just want to stay in the town they love. We need to make progress on this front for the benefit of all.
Regionalization and zoning mandates simply aren’t on the Democratic agenda. Securing Connecticut’s future, though, is. Democrats built a record Rainy Day Fund of $3.5 billion. Democrats paid down over $5.4 billion on our pension debt, saving the state over $440 million every year for the next 25 years. Democrats delivered the largest tax cut in state history (more than $650 million) to our working- and middle-class families, and Democrats made significant investments in childcare, our schools, and infrastructure. Democrats get things done.
As I continue listening to voters, I hope to have honest conversations on important issues like these, conversations that represent the best of democracy and pave a path forward. That’s not possible when misinformation dominates the discussion.
Whoever is spreading the regionalization lies is doing our communities a disservice. And if they should show up at your door, ask them if they support a woman’s right to choose and funding early childhood education. Ask them if they support common sense gun laws and finding real solutions to problems in our state. Ask them what they plan to do to make Connecticut an even better place to work and live.
Voters deserve to have an honest picture of where the candidates stand. I hope my Republican opponent will join me in a frank discussion of the issues voters care about most.
For a piece with “facts” in the headline, this sure is intentionally misleading. A quick primer for new Wilton residents — elected CT Democrats in Hartford (not Democratic residents) made a massive push at school regionalization in 2019, which failed in large part due to the efforts of Hands Off Our Schools (which had widespread support from Republican, unaffiliated, and Democratic residents of Wilton and other towns). Since then, numerous bills have been proposed and discussed, all originated by lawmakers on one side of the aisle (covered in the GMW link below).
With zoning, it has been elected CT Democrats (to the chagrin of most local Republicans, unaffiliated voters, and Democrats) that have supported 8-30g and the erosion of control of local zoning.
Also, to suggest that the fabulous Wilton Republican women running for office (Kim Healy for State Rep, Toni Boucher for State Senate) are not pro-choice is complete nonsense. To suggest they aren’t for common sense gun laws (which we have in CT) is complete nonsense.
You don’t have to be a partisan to understand where elected CT Democrats want to take the state — they have tried numerous times at different variations of regionalization of schools and zoning, and if they get more votes in the legislature, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand they are highly likely to try again. Kim and Toni are common-sense Wilton residents who have the desire and fortitude to buck Hartford and help keep local control of zoning and education. They will represent Wilton — our Democratic, Republican, and unaffiliated voters (which they look at as amazing Wiltonians, not party members) with pro-Wilton, pro-education, moderate policies. Most importantly, they will listen to all of us, not Hartford.
Thank you for this. I think these are very important questions to ask whomever shows up at your door, no matter party affiliation. If they say they support a woman’s right to choose or common sense gun laws, they also need to tell us who they have voted for in the past presidential and mid-term elections. I think all of the candidates should be transparent regarding these issues.
I am looking forward to the candidates stating for the voters, the answer to this question.
Why is it so bad to have students from other districts studying and aspiring with Students who live in Wilton? Please explain the perceived threat to me. Really, I want to understand the issue. Control? Control of what? Tax dollar beneficiaries? Is there a benefit in sharing resources? What is the value or not to students of not sharing/ learning from differences/ knowing someone from out out of town? Is this purely a money issue? Is it about parents or about kids? What if we asked the kids what they thought?
Please, I want to understand this issue. It connects to so many political philosophy questions, which are at the heart of democracy.
For the politicians who are pushing for school regionalization, yes, a large part of the motivation is money – it’s a greed-driven grab for property tax dollars. This is despite the fact that in Connecticut other tax and spending (beyond local property taxes), disproportionally benefits towns and cities with lower per capita property taxes than Wilton (few would argue to change this). Exhibit A is the funding for the new Norwalk High School. In Wilton we already have a mill rate that places us at near one of the highest levels in the country (and over 2/3 of this is spent on our schools), and these politicians are effectively saying “we don’t think you should keep that, to spend as you see fit, to educate your kids.”
It’s about the parents and the kids. The parents who are willing to pay the extremely high taxes in a town like this because of the small-town feel, the close-knit community, the camaraderie, the school pride. In knowing the other kids their kids go to school with. For the kids, it’s the same benefits. Plus, they don’t have to travel an extra 25 minutes each way to go to another school – less time traveling, more time for activities, schoolwork, sleeping. The school busses can drop them off at their after-school activities. The list could be quite long.
For democracy to function its best, citizens must have, and must feel like they have, some say in how they are governed and how funds are spent, in what services the government provides and doesn’t provide. The local control that exists in Connecticut, in towns like ours, is democracy at its finest. It’s a big part of the reason my family chose to settle here. There are roughly 12,500 voters in Wilton, so each of us has a real say in the management of our town, our schools, our property, and our taxes. It would be a shame to cede this autonomy and say in our affairs to people who frankly just don’t care as much about Wilton, and about our children, as we do.
Keith, as I mentioned to you this week, this is a misleading, if not outright dishonest piece that, I only now realized, you paid to run. This is not journalism, it is in fact, false advertising. You really should withdraw it, because there is good reason and clear historical evidence supporting the fact, not just fear, that democrats in Hartford have already, currently are and will continue to go after our tax dollars, both income and property, zoning control, school autonomy, and clearly, Wilton school funding. I would hope that you are simply misinformed by those who wish to revise history and recent legislative attempts, solely by Democrats in Connecticut. Anyone who wants the facts, simply google the issue “Connecticut School District Regionalization Proposed by Democrat State Senator Looney”. Read the articles written then. There are numerous articles. The historical facts are crystal clear. Senator Martin Looney, the President of the Democrat party in the Connecticut Senate, along with other Democrats in Hartford and supported by many other state democrats, proposed regionalization of schools, as well as centralization of property tax collection. If you google the subject, you will see, as those involved did at the time, that the first leader in fighting this proposal in the State Capitol was Rep. Gail Lavielle, Republican of Wilton, who, it was reported, said at the Education Committee, that the “distress” that she heard from constituents about possible forced regionalization “has been so great, I’ve never seen anything like it.” Numerous Democrats countered her arguments. When four Democrats from Fairfield County realized how opposed their districts were to the idea of regionalization (Senate bill No. 454), they wrote a letter stating their opposition to Looney’s plan to regionalize education, including Senator Will Haskell. It is striking that only four Democrats in the entire state were opposed to the idea. Will showed backbone and supported the district ultimately, but, he offered to have our district share costs of other districts through higher taxes here. It was reported that he stated that the better approach would be to reform education cost sharing- the state’s system of funding education- “to make sure that students with the highest needs are getting state dollars”…state dollars from the same Fairfield County towns that were fighting regionalization, so, as I understood it, we would effectively submit to blackmail… they will take money away from our schools and redistribute, in order to stave off losing all local control, over property taxes and education. That is exactly what is actually happening now, with statewide support from the Democrats, with muted opposition from local Democrats. We are under constant threat of losing our already less than fair share of state education support from our tax dollars which overwhelmingly flow elsewhere but home already.
These are the facts as all of us here in town who followed these events know to be true, and is still available for review online, not this revisionist history that is now being made up to suit political aspirations. Anyone can google it. It is the historical record.
Also, for the record, most local Republicans running for office are in fact pro-choice, and I don’t know any in local Wilton elected office who is a “MAGA” Republican… from my conversations, not very scientific, but especially me, can’t stand Trump’s lack of honesty, but then again, your advertisements show that dishonesty isn’t limited to one political party, or another. Not a good look for anyone.
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