Election Day in Connecticut is Nov. 8, when dozens of candidates will compete for positions in federal and state offices. Several cities and towns will ask local questions on the ballot in addition to the statewide question on early voting.
The Norwich Bulletin sent questionnaires to candidates vying for several state seats in eastern Connecticut. The Bulletin publishes answers with edits only for grammar or if an applicant has exceeded the word limit and has not resubmitted a shorter version by the deadline.
Three candidates are vying for Senator for District 29 – Democratic and incumbent candidate Mae Flexer, Republican candidate Susanne Witkowski and Green Party candidate Jean de Smet. The district includes Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson and Windham.
Last name: Mae Flexor
Campaign website: electmaeflexer.com
Occupation: Executive Director, State Senator
What makes you the best candidate to represent District 29?
It has been the honor of my life to serve the residents of our Senate constituency. I have lived in northeast Connecticut for over 30 years, and am so proud to fight for our community and appreciate welcoming Pomfret to our district. I got involved in local politics as a KHS student, and haven’t stopped since. As our state senator, I work tirelessly to get things done, working with our neighbors to meet today’s challenges.
My experience uniquely positions me to know all the major issues in every city in our district and I delivered. I brought home new funds for our local schools from Thompson to Scotland to Windham and for building schools in Killingly, Putnam, Windham and Mansfield. I fought for funding for our hospitals and secured millions of dollars in funding for police, fire and emergency services in northeast Connecticut. I worked on the construction of a new community and seniors center in Windham and the new municipal complex in Putnam. I worked to improve playgrounds and parks in Brooklyn and Putnam. And our critical infrastructure has seen major improvements in Canterbury, Windham and across the district.
I grew up in a family headed by an Irish immigrant and Vietnam veteran who experienced the struggle, hard work and community support needed to make ends meet. For this reason, I led the fight to establish paid family and medical leave and to raise the minimum wage for hard-working families – it has made a real difference in people’s lives. I drafted landmark legislation to address domestic violence and sexual assault and increase penalties for these crimes. As we all face rising costs, I suspended the state gas tax, created the $250 child tax credit, and eliminated income tax on retirement benefits.
With reproductive rights at stake, I have fought to expand access to abortion and contraception, and to strengthen protections for providers and patients seeking care in states that have banned abortion. That decision is up to our state legislature, and I am the only candidate in this race who will oppose any effort, by Hartford, Congress, or the Supreme Court to restrict freedom of access to reproductive health care.
I urge you to consider which candidate will face this moment with leadership, passion and empathy. I hope to win your vote so we can continue to fight for northeast Connecticut, together.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing your district and how would you solve it?
The biggest issue facing the 29th Senate District is access to essential health services close to home. At Windham, I struggled year after year with Hartford Healthcare’s disastrous policies at Windham Hospital. They closed first the intensive care unit and then the labor and delivery unit without seeking state approval and are now neglecting to pay their nurses and staff a fair wage. There are nearly 65,000 constituents living within the Windham Hospital service area who now have to drive more than 30 minutes to seek reproductive health care.
In Putnam, Day Kimball is one of the few remaining independent health care organizations in the state. It is one of the largest employers in our region and faces serious financial challenges. I have worked tirelessly to secure state support for DKH, including $5 million in public funding in 2022 alone. Day Kimball is considering merging with Covenant Health. This merger needs to be watched closely. In merging with Covenant Health, the hospital must adhere to ethical and religious guidelines for Catholic health services that will limit the provision of reproductive health care, family planning, end-of-life care and more. This concerns a lot of people in our area, myself included. I will continue to fight for the future of Day Kimball and ensure that this vital part of our community is there when our neighbors need it.
Health care delivery has been a major problem for many years in our district and in rural parts of the country. I worked to create and redesign the Office of Healthcare Strategy to ensure we held powerful healthcare corporations accountable. I worked on legislation to expand who can perform certain reproductive procedures to accommodate health care deserts. I have drafted legislation to protect the essential health benefits of the Affordable Care Act into state law and ensure that women continue to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care and that all people with a pre-existing condition will be protected. It would be devastating for our community to lose access to health care, despite our hard work in the Legislative Assembly to protect these essential resources. As Day Kimball and Windham hospitals faced difficult challenges, it is more crucial than ever that we protect access to healthcare to meet the needs of our diverse community.
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