My speech to the Democratic Party Nominating Convention
May 16, 2018
Canaan Town Hall, Falls Village
Thank you all very much, delegates and friends. I accept the nomination for the 64th District Assembly Seat.
Last time I was at an occasion like this with so many flags was at my swearing-in as a United States Attorney, which Tom remembers in particular because after the swearing-in, which is quite a solemn occasion, the U.S. Attorney walked up to him and said, “Now, say goodbye to her. You won’t be seeing her for awhile.”
I thank you all for the kind words that you said about me. And because I am reminded about that swearing-in, I want to tell one of my “case” stories. It was a very early case that I had, as a newly minted prosecutor, when they give you small cases so you can’t screw up too badly. It was a Postal inspection case, so it didn’t seem like it was going to be a big deal. And it didn’t involve a lot of money. But the reason that it really resonated with me is because of the victims of this. This was a financial fraud.
The victims’ names appeared on a list that had been sold. The reason these victims were on this list is because they met certain criteria:
• They were elderly.
• They had recently lost a spouse or a partner.
• They didn’t have any family living nearby.
• They had savings, but just so much. There was a cutoff.
These people were on this list because they were lonely, vulnerable, and financially insecure. That gave value to that list, which was purchased. The people who purchased that list then went on to systematically target each person on that list: call them, send them cards, befriend them, ask about their families, exchange pictures of their so-called families. These people opened their hearts to them. And, eventually, opened their wallets to them. And they took every last penny these people had - their life savings.
I hope that’s never happened to anyone in your family, or to you, but if it has, then you know it’s not just a financial crime. It’s like a personal assault. To lose everything that you’ve worked for all your life. When you’ve worked to support your kids and to set them up on solid footing, and discover that at this point in your life, that you’re going to be beholden to them. An early challenge in this case was getting some of those people to even admit that they had been victimized. They were embarrassed. They didn’t want to admit that Joe wasn’t their friend. To admit to their kids that they had lost everything, that maybe their kids were also relying on.
It was really hard work. The agent that I worked with and I worked patiently with all the victims. We were just as methodical as the low-lifes on the other side. We found them. We built a case against them. We prosecuted them. And we were able to get some of the monies back to the people who had been defrauded.
That, to me, is the essence of government service. Government in the hands of people with values and integrity can do good things. It can right wrongs. It can make sure that we’re all playing by the same set of rules. It can speak for the people who don’t have a voice.
That’s the kind of advocacy that I’ve tried to do in the rest of my life. Here, I’ve tried to do it on behalf of volunteer firefighters, victims of domestic violence, and kids who are at risk for substance abuse. It’s the kind of representation that I’d like to bring to the 64th District, to make sure that every citizen here feels like they have access to opportunity.
I think that's more important than ever when we have a budget crisis and we're going to have to make some really tough choices. People need to feel that they're going to be fairly represented and if there's pain that needs to be spread in budgetary sacrifice, that we're all in this together. And if we're going to share in that sacrifice, then that means we're all going to get to participate in the recovery that comes after that. We all want our kids to have the opportunities that we had. We all want them to be able to stay here and grow up in our towns and raise families here. We want them to feel that system is fair and that they're going to get a fair shake. I'd really like to fight for those values in the 64th district.
I think that means a certain set of priorities which I’m not going to list tonight because they’re long, but the three things that I talk about a lot are health care, education, and the economy. I think those first two represent investments that are critical for the long-term growth of the economy,
In terms of health care, we are at a moment when access to affordable health care is under attack by the federal government and sometimes it feels like an entire political party. I don’t think we should live in a society where a single health care crisis can wipe out a family. We have to do something about that and I think we can. So, we’re going to be fighting for that.
To me, health care also includes gun violence, which I view as a public health issue. Connecticut has some of the strongest gun control laws on the books, thanks in part to a lot of advocacy on the part of Roberta Willis and Michelle Cook.They know better than most that there are people nipping at those heels, outside monied interests that would like to see that change every day. So we have to continue to fight and support those laws, and to strengthen them as we go forward.
We’re not going to have an economic recovery if we don’t invest in education. We have a tradition of educational excellence around here and we have to stick up for it. We have to make sure we make those investments that provide our local schools, in particular, with the kind of flexibility and resources that they need to survive the demographic challenges that they’re going through right now. A commitment to education goes beyond just secondary school. It also includes things like community colleges, job training programs, apprenticeships -- the things that give people the kind of training they need for long-term, stable careers so that they can stay here. We need to support that as well.
I think those are critical investments and really important priorities. We are going to have to keep our eyes on the ball all the time in order to have the economic recovery that we all deserve. I think there are many other things included in that, like workforce housing, access to the Internet, but we can go over the list later, over a drink.
I am unbelievably moved by your support for me tonight. I take it very seriously.
There is talk in the media about this Blue Wave, as if it’s some phenomenon that we’re watching on the Weather Channel, that it’s going to oversweep us. We ARE the Blue Wave. Every single one of us is a drop of water in that wave. And we are just the beginning of that. We need to build on that momentum and talk to everybody we know. We will make that wave happen. I think we can.
We have a fight on our hands. But if we all join together, it’s a fight we’re going to win. And I am very proud to represent you. I thank you all for being here tonight.