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On August 14th, with your support and the support of many in this community, I became the Democratic candidate for State Representative in the 18th district of West Hartford. My team and I knocked on doors almost every day from April to August. When the weather didn’t cooperate, we grabbed umbrellas. When umbrellas weren’t enough, we met with residents for coffee. We spent a lot of time listening because I firmly believe that my role as a legislator is to ensure that my constituents have a voice at the Capitol.
As I walked around our district and spoke with thousands of residents, I found that the overwhelming majority of people are worried about Connecticut’s future and are frustrated by the incredibly slow pace and lack of urgency at the capitol. We are facing a substantial deficit, the result of years of fiscal mismanagement. We need to elect leaders who are willing to challenge the status quo and place good policy before politics. I am not afraid to have difficult conversations if it means Connecticut and West Hartford can move forward.
First and foremost, we need to reduce West Hartford’s property taxes. This can be achieved through a combined effort at both the state and local level. Any new revenue that comes in to our state, including from legalizing marijuana or sports gambling, must be used to pay off our debt. In turn, this will free up more support for municipalities which can be used to reduce property taxes. We can’t waste any opportunity to fix our budget.
We also need to stop wasting money on studies, especially when an issue has been studied already! Connecticut must act on tolls and we must require that the revenue from tolls be used to fix Connecticut’s infrastructure and improve transportation.
And while I’d like to move Connecticut forward in a positive and realistic direction, the party of Trump offers unrealistic promises without any concrete solutions. Stefanowski and Markley are promising to eliminate the income tax and have yet to explain how they can pay for it. My Republican opponent wants to “Rebuild CT Together,” but hasn’t explained how she would do it. The voters at the doors want more than words and slogans. They want advocacy and action.
For the last 15 years I have effectively advocated for social justice issues at the State Capitol, including landmark campus sexual assault policies, a law to remove firearms when a temporary restraining order is granted, and expanded Care4Kids coverage after the birth of a second child. I previously worked as a crisis counselor for children at the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern CT. I managed staff and understand budgets, having been the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut. I currently work as a director of Health Professional Outreach at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and I teach political advocacy to social work students at the University of Connecticut. I am passionate about creating and passing public policy that promotes the well being of women, children and families both in West Hartford and in Connecticut.
We have an opportunity to make real change for Connecticut. We have an opportunity to lead this state differently. From now until November my campaign will be knocking on doors to listen to you and learn from you. If you’re interested in getting involved, putting up a lawn sign, or grabbing a cup of coffee, please reach out through our website. Your vote and your voice matter. I humbly ask for your support this November 6th.
Editor’s Note: Jillian Gilchrest is the Democratic candidate for the 18th State House District.