What I fight for
Eleni's campaign is rooted in collaborating with community stakeholders on three cornerstone issues: the economy, education, and equality.
when legislation is focused on these matters, the ability to improve lives in our community is limitless.
In order to reset Connecticut’s economic trajectory, we must find partnerships between the state and innovative companies, retain workforce talent, and encourage collaboration with non-profits, small businesses, and educational institutions. How do we accomplish this? I have actionable solutions to get Connecticut on the right track!
Commit to Infrastructure Improvements
It’s hard not to notice the differences between Connecticut’s roads and those across New England and New York. Our infrastructure is literally crumbling. This is not only a concern for public safety, but it inhibits businesses from choosing Connecticut as their home base for operations. After reviewing the many studies conducted by the Legislature and Department of Transportation, I am supportive of tolls with discounted rates for Connecticut residents. It has been made clear by the federal government that funding derived from tolls would have to be placed in the Special Transportation Fund – a fund which has teetered on depletion due to the Legislature’s inaction. It’s time to be responsible and commit funding to our bridges and roads.
Incentivize and Retain Talent
Connecticut is home to nationally ranked colleges and universities that students from across the nation dream of attending. When they study here, they are paired with our nonprofits, business owners, and even government offices for externships and internships. These opportunities can translate into careers for them post-graduation. We must retain this talent for the benefit of our economy. The Legislature has tried to develop and implement various programs to provide financial support to new graduates, but these have never been fully funded or implemented on a large enough scale. Our state makes a great home for young people and families. If we foster an environment where young graduates want to contribute their newly acquired skills and talents workforce, our economy cannot lose!
Invest in Tourism
The Farmington Valley is one of the most beautiful regions in Connecticut. The endless trails for hiking, the rivers to enjoy, and parks to support our residents’ recreational pursuits make both Avon and Canton unique. It is incredibly short-sighted for us to not publicize all that we have to offer visitors. For every dollar we spend on tourism, we get three dollars back in our local economy. Tourism funding has consistently been first on the chopping block when budget negotiations occur. I will work to ensure this funding stays intact.
Bring Earned Family Medical Leave to Connecticut
We talk a lot about our shared family values. That’s why having a family shouldn’t cost you your job. Taking care of your partner or your parent or your sick child shouldn’t mean you have to choose between being a conscientious employee and being a loving caregiver. Earned family medical leave (also known as Paid Family Medical Leave) encourages self-reliance and ultimately makes our state more competitive when we are surrounded by states that also have it. This is also another incentive that will help us retain talent in our workforce.
Immigrants are the backbone of our local economy, not just because they are more likely to become entrepreneurs, but also because they believe their strong work ethic will lead to the American Dream. By supporting the immigrants in Avon and Canton, we strengthen both our community and our economy.
Refocus on Green Jobs and Renewable Energy
Connecticut used to lead the nation in green jobs- we need to bring those jobs back to Connecticut as they will immediately help grow our economy. Secondly, renewable energy is an enormous win-win for our environment and our economy because at the same time that it reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, it helps employ thousands of people across our state.
In conversations with our educators, I learned they have more worries now than ever before. Between deep cuts to school budgets when they already supplement their classroom supplies to the concerns over school safety, teachers are the first to see the consequences of bad policy decisions. Listening to our teachers and enacting legislation to alleviate the many pressures they face is one of my top priorities.
Our schools cannot prosper if we aren’t diligently acting in the best interest of both students and teachers for both mental and physical health. Currently, our K-12 students only get on average one 40-minute physical education class per week. We need to pass legislation to get these students more physical activity because we cannot expect children to develop healthy habits as adults if they think 40 minutes of gym time once a week constitutes healthy behavior. Additionally, we need to shore up the access students have to social workers in schools in order to strengthen students emotional and social well-being and assist teachers in identifying barriers to learning.
Fix the Funding Mechanism for Education
In Avon and Canton, we are incredibly lucky to have excellent schools with committed teachers and dynamic support staff. We must continue to uphold that excellence by providing the services each child needs to succeed. In order to do that, we have to have a strong advocate at the state to fight for the funds we need and I am that leader.
Since its creation, the state’s Education Cost Sharing Formula has never been fully funded, leaving towns without the full complement of resources for effective public education. Connecticut also does not have a specific formula for financing special education funding. I will work on fixing the formula so that all of our students have an academic experience that provides them with all of the resources they need to be successful.
Ensure Safer Classrooms and Expand Mental Health Resources
We need commonsense legislation that will make our classrooms and communities safer. This is only possible when both sides work together with community stakeholders. I do support universal background checks because they have been proven to work. I also believe that prioritizing mental health in a child’s formative years is crucial because of the long-term dividends and benefits both children and parents see. Knowing that two-thirds of all gun deaths are suicides, it’s imperative to educate our youth on these issues and remove firearms from people struggling with mental health issues.
Make College Affordable and Expand Workforce Development
Our young residents are getting priced out of college educations. We need to make college more affordable while also supporting and improving our community colleges so that everyone who wants to go to college has the ability to do so. A republican budget that was approved by both the House and Senate in 2017 reduced funding for the state’s collegiate system and scholarships. Fortunately, this budget was not the final version that was signed into law, but the thought that it was approved by both Chambers is alarming. This won’t happen on my watch.
Connecticut’s workforce requires skilled labor training, so ensuring that our technical and vo-ag schools have their full funding is imperative. By giving these students access to the best training our high schools can offer, we are helping them establish a platform for a high-paying career in fields such as architecture, graphic design, manufacturing, and various trades. I will make funding for these schools a top priority.
When we talk about equal rights, we mean equal rights across race, sexual orientation, equal access to healthcare and education, equal pay. If we want to survive and thrive as a society, it behooves all of us to be engaged in intersectional equality. It makes me angry that my friends who don’t look like me are unequal in so many ways that are just ingrained in our society. The reality is white privilege disables non-white people from having a seat at the table in corporate America, government, and community organizations.
Standing Up for Women’s Rights
When we improve the lives of women, we improve our society, full stop. Women represent 51% of our population yet our representation nationally in elected office is an average of 25%. We can't expect equal rights if we aren’t part of every conversation; that means women from every background—women who work outside and inside the home, women of every color, every walk of life. We are still having to fight for leadership parity in the workplace. Women’s healthcare should not be decided only by the portion of the population who doesn’t understand it.
Equal access to healthcare
Families, seniors, and veterans shouldn’t have to choose between medicine and food - or fear getting sick and ending up in financial ruin. Small business owners who want to provide their employees with healthcare should be able to without putting themselves out of business. The Legislature was unsuccessful in passing two provisions during the 2018 session that would have combatted the already high and rising healthcare costs that Connecticut residents face.
The first bill limited when an insurance company was allowed to change prescription drug formularies during the term of certain group and individual health insurance policies. There are currently no protections against this in Connecticut’s statutes. This means inconsistent and unfair pricing for consumers who have no choice in taking a medication. They become forced to pay whatever a carrier charges.
The second piece of legislation would cover ultrasounds as preventive measures for patients with dense breast tissue. Gains in this area were made under Governor Rell as she championed and lead the passage of legislation that required physicians to notify patients if they had dense breast tissue, a condition best monitored by an ultrasound, currently not covered as preventive by an insurance company - the patient assumes that cost. For some, the cost of this examination might hinder their ability to complete it. We also know that a preventive measure can be much more affordable than the alternative care if cancer is later detected.
Both of these bills were steps in the right direction for Connecticut’s healthcare consumers, but we must make commonsense healthcare measures must be a priority -- it’s a matter of life and death in many cases.
Criminal Justice Reform
I support criminal justice reform specifically around sentencing guidelines, probation, and improving relations between police and the communities they serve. Specifically, our juvenile justice system is in need of reform beause we have the opportunity with juvenile offenders to rehabilitate their behavior to teach them how to be productive members of our society.
Protecting LGBTQA Rights
We must continue to strengthen the rights of anyone identifying as LGBTQA because we know that through awareness and education, we can save lives.
Ensuring Full Pay Equity
It’s past time that all women are paid equally to men because women should not be penalized for choosing to have a family. The Legislature took steps in 2018 to generally limit employers from asking a prospective employee for their salary history. However, this does not mean an employer cannot ask about the prospective employee’s compensation structure from previous employment. We must fix this and expand on efforts to end wage differences among genders. Additionally, we need to protect women who are paid based on seniority from facing a penalty from taking maternity leave.
It angers me that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world and yet, our most vulnerable citizens, seniors and children, are our most food insecure. In my lifetime of work in community organizing, I have seen firsthand how challenging it is for working families to make ends meet and food is often the first place they have to make cuts. Hungry children are not children who are able to learn on the same level as their well-fed peers. In CT, we have to protect our SNAP program because the two groups most heavily affected by hunger are our children and our seniors.
In Avon and Canton, we have many seniors who are going hungry, in fact, we have some of the highest numbers in the state. The majority of people coming to the Foodshare truck where I volunteer every other week are over age 65. We have to protect SNAP benefits for them and in many cases for the grandchildren they are raising. No senior should have to choose between food and medicine.
My grandfather, father, and husband all served in the Navy. Our current service-members need support to re-enter civilian life and our veterans need support so they don’t end up homeless or hungry. Connecticut’s gone a long way in ending homelessness for veterans, but we need to make sure we are taking care of those who’ve served us and their families.