I have an open line of communication with Gary Turco, my state rep. That is, he was my state rep, but then the districts were redrawn in advance of the 2022 election, moving me from the 27th to the 20th.
I started getting periodic newsletters from my new state rep, Kate Farrar. So I responded to one to initiate a conversation about what’s important to me as one of her new constituents. Kate replied in a timely fashion and invited me to meet for coffee.
Kate was very cordial and generous with her time as I covered a number of topics, not only as a public employee and union activist, but also as a volunteer with the Newington Children’s Theatre Company, which is the state’s longest-running nonprofit youth theatre program.
The point is, I had the ear of my new state rep that day, and I have since that day. Kate knows who I am and is responsive to my emails. I have no expectation that she’s always going to agree with me or vote the way I want her to all the time, and I told her that. My objective is to build a rapport with the people who represent me so it becomes more likely my voice is heard. That’s how representative democracy is supposed to work.
Kate has demonstrated a history of supporting working families, public employees, UConn, and the right to collectively bargain. She knows where I stand on those and she’s with us.
But here’s the cool part:
Since I’ve met her she’s also taken up an interest in the children’s theatre. In April the theatre held a fundraising event for its milestone 60th birthday. Kate not only helped promote it in advance, she also showed up that night and presented, along with Gary, a legislative citation recognizing the theatre’s 60 years of service to the community.
Why am I telling you this? Because it shows what just a little bit of effort to establish and nurture a relationship with elected officials can do. Once she became aware of something that is important to one of her constituents, she became a stakeholder in that something’s success. And it’s not because an endorsement from AFT-CT or the CT AFL-CIO was at stake; it’s because someone in her district initiated a dialogue.
You can be sure your elected officials are hearing from others; but when they hear from you, you control the message that reaches them.
Now, imagine if all of us cultivated relationships with our elected officials, if they knew (1) who we were, (2) that we’re paying attention, and (3) that we vote. What kind of influence do you think that would have on matters like funding for UConn Health, safe patient staffing, ratifying our next contract, and collective bargaining rights in general?
If you’re not sure who your elected officials are and how to reach them, please take a moment today and use this easy lookup tool.
UHP VP for Communication