Reflections on Fourteen Years in Hartford

It’s been a joy beyond words to serve as state representative for Norwalk and Darien since 2009.  An extraordinary life experience and one I wouldn’t have missed, despite some initial trepidations.

Making An Impact

I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work together with so many good people across our state who were committed to leading with good ideas and sound policy for all our constituents. Many of whom will be life-long friends. I’m honored to have successfully led a number of key bipartisan initiatives on mental health, special education / dyslexia, women’s reproductive healthcare, gun safety, environmental preservation, and fiscal prudence.

Part of a legislator’s responsibility is to celebrate the achievements, milestones and sometimes mourn a loss in the community. It’s been a privilege to celebrate and honor our Veterans, police officers, first responders, Eagle Scouts and the variety of accomplishments of students, nonprofits and businesses in our area. In addition, to stand with our community in a time of loss and reflection, I have such respect for the communal power to feel pain and loss and to grow in healing together.

A Continuing Challenge

In any legislative session, the majority of laws pass with unanimous support. However, there are still key areas where common sense solutions have been elusive. The economy, safe communities and good schools have remained top issues for residents across the state. Yet, these issues are where the greatest political and partisan divide lie and the fewest effective solutions are found. What should be rational and logical debates often morph into inflammatory politics on steroids. We must hold our leaders accountable to find common bonds and all that unites us rather than divides us. I’ll always believe we have so much more in common than not.

Connecticut remains the only state in the country not to regain all the jobs lost in the 2008 recession. We continually rank at the bottom of many important economic indicators and are not yet seen as a business friendly state. Our high levels of taxation and heavy handed regulation are much of the reason why. To be sure, we’ve made some solid steps forward in better fiscal management starting with the bi-partisan 2017 budget, which included many Republican initiatives. However more can be done to increase our attractiveness to job creators. Improving the business climate starts with lowering taxes and common sense reductions in the scope and number of regulations. Along with a modified allegiance to special interests, for example our state employee unions. 

Surprisingly, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that are sent to our urban municipalities – specifically for funding education – each year, there is no accountability or transparency required for how that funding is used. The statistics of these students are dire – the majority of them test well below grade level. The status quo prevails. Solutions to improve student outcomes meet a stonewall. The bigotry of low expectations remains.

Solutions that have worked in other states must be given a try in Connecticut. Money Follows the Child, School Choice, Charter Schools and the Teach for America program have all improved student outcomes. Our students’ lives depend on genuine opportunities and school districts that are open and transparent about how school funds are spent.

For the People, By the People 

I leave, elevated by the power of your voices. I learned from you, that the most important skill of leadership is to be a good listener. To listen with an open heart and open mind to all constituents. To me, that has been one of the joys of the job – hearing another point of view and potential solutions. I’ll miss the richness of that dialogue. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspectives over the years and supporting my work on your behalf.

Believing in term limits – the time has come for someone else to have the opportunity to represent you in Hartford. Tracy Marra has been elected to represent this district and will do so with competence, compassion and common sense. She also believes in a bottom up government – that the voices of the people matter. 

My last day serving is January 3rd, Tracy will be sworn in with 150 other state reps on January 4th in Hartford. I wish Tracy and all the other newly elected legislators the best as they begin their journeys in supporting our great state. As always, please let me know your thoughts

State Rep. Terrie Wood

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