The Day Endorses Norm: "Needleman an exceptional choice in 33rd Senatorial District"

Norm Day Endorsement 2.jpg

By The Day Editorial Board

One of the most intriguing state races to watch election night will be for control of the 33rd Senatorial District. It is an open seat, features two strong candidates and could potentially determine control of the state Senate, now split 18-18.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Art Linares, who made an unsuccessful attempt to win the party nomination for treasurer and moved from the district due to his marriage, is not seeking re-election. The 33rd covers Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Voters will be choosing between two candidates with substantial political experience. Democrat Norm Needleman, 67, is serving his fourth term as first selectman of Essex. State Rep. Melissa Ziobron, 47, is completing her third term representing the 38th House District of Colchester, East Haddam and East Hampton.

Both, we are confident, would be quick studies in assuming their senatorial duties if elected, with gravitas that would extend beyond their freshman status.

In our estimation, however, Needleman is an exceptional candidate while Ziobron is merely a good one.

His experience as both a successful businessman — his Essex-based Town Laboratories, manufacturing effervescent products, employs 150 people — and as a first selectman provides him rare insider perspectives in two key areas. Needleman knows firsthand how state policies both help and hinder job creators. He knows, too, the challenges of preparing a government budget, made particularly difficult in recent years due to the vagaries of state aid.

Essex has done well under Needleman’s leadership, attracting businesses, expanding the tax base and keeping its property tax among the lowest in the state.

Needleman doesn’t pretend to have all the answers for a state confronting a $2 billion deficit, about 10 percent of the budget, for the coming fiscal year. Addressing that shortfall will be the first test of the next governor and General Assembly.

But Needleman does have clear guideposts. Any adjustment in tax policy, he recognizes, must be done in a way that encourages economic expansion because that will be the key to generating the revenue necessary to escape Connecticut’s fiscal problems.

He knows small adjustments can pay big dividends. Developing a comprehensive economic development plan can generate job growth. Transferring responsibility for special education to the state could provide a major boost to our public schools. Smartly investing in tourism will pay dividends far in excess of investment, he recognizes.

Needleman does not see a gradual increase to a $15 minimum wage or development of paid family leave policies as adverse to business growth. Businesses can adjust and the higher wages at the low-end of the scale can boost the economy and ease the burden on state services, he said.

But we would be remiss not to acknowledge that Needleman faces a strong challenger in Ziobron. As ranking member of the Appropriations Committee she played a role in developing a state budget that won bipartisan support and avoided another tax increase.

Ziobron has been a strong leader for protection of the environment and conservation. Her advocacy contributed to funding for expansion of the Airline Trail biking and walking path, the reopening of river access at Sunrise Park and the return of camping at Devil’s Hopyard State Park.

A fiscal conservative, she has demonstrated by doing, refusing to spend taxpayer money to mail legislative updates to constituents, instead using digital means to get information out to the public.

And Ziobron is willing to buck leadership, in her strong advocacy for production of industrial hemp and in support of legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and older, positions Needleman shares.

But on balance, Norm Needleman is the stronger candidate and gets our final endorsement in the 2018 election.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

Read the endorsement at The Day’s website here.

Melissa Ziobron Gave Herself a Big Raise

Ziobron took taxpayers for a ride, cashing in on legislative perks and compensating herself more than any of her House colleagues

(Essex, October 18, 2018) -- An analysis of the state’s open payroll system reveals that Melissa Ziobron was paid more than any of her house colleagues by taking advantage of mileage reimbursements, healthcare benefits, and other legislative perks.  

Ziobron collected $18,379 in “other” pay according to Connecticut’s Open Payroll website in 2017, which accounts for her legislative expense account along with other reimbursements she claimed that year. No other member of the House claimed as many perks as she did in 2017, meaning she took more than even the Speaker of the House and the Republican Minority Leader. Ziobron collected most of that money in a single check issued to her in June 2017 for a whopping $14,291.

“Melissa Ziobron says she’s for protecting taxpayer interests, yet she took advantage of every possible perk she could to line her own pockets,” said State Senate candidate Norm Needleman, “Even more insulting is that as she’s getting paid to drive to work she voted against the interests of working families when she got there, denying equal pay for women and opposing the minimum wage.”

This comes as Ziobron and her shadowy Washington DC super PAC allies launched a flashy digital campaign falsely accusing Needleman of taking a pay raise as First Selectman of Essex. Needleman instead cut his pay by 75% and donated the remainder to area charities.

When factoring in the value of her state health benefits Ziobron was compensated a total of $77,307 in 2017, making her the most compensated member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.

Full detail is available on the Open Payroll website here:!/year/2017/employee/2074B3A5517393AA8DECFABC5B0F1EE7

Needleman Wins Connecticut League Of Conservation Voters Endorsement

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, a leading environmental group in our state, has endorsed Norm Needleman for the State Senate seat from the 33rd District.   

In selecting Needleman for endorsement, CTLCV said: “We work hard to identify candidates we believe are true leaders on environmental issues based on their past work and their responses to our candidate questionnaire.”

“Breathable air, clean water and unspoiled open space are constantly under attack by special interest in Hartford,” said Needleman. “My commitment to making environmental protection and open space preservation protection a top legislative priority will not waver, despite the strong opposition to measures that commit resources to environmental protection. When I am elected to the State Senate, I will work with CTLCV to address vital issues that will be debated in the coming legislative session: the State Water Plan, DEEP funding, renewable energy, and bans on toxic chemicals. I am deeply grateful that CTLCV has recognized my longstanding commitment to responsible environmental stewardship.”

Norm Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook. 

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business to become a leader in its field, employing over 225 people.

Connecticut State Police and Professional Firefighters Endorse Needleman

ESSEX, CT - Praising his work on behalf of police officers and fire fighters, the Connecticut Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association and the Connecticut State Police Union announced their endorsements of Norm Needleman’s candidacy in the 33rd State Senate District.

“Each day, our police and fire fighters put on a uniform and answer the call of duty,” said Mr. Needlemanwho currently serves as the First Selectman of the Town of Essex. “I am proud of my work in supporting our first responders, and I’ll have their backs when I am in the senate. I am honored to have received the endorsement of the Connecticut Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters’ and the Connecticut State Police unions.” Needleman committed to supporting measures that will provide state police, firefighters and emergency response personnel with state of the art equipment and communications systems. "Our law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and emergency response professionals save lives and protect all of us every day. We owe it to them to do everything we can to help them do their jobs effectively by providing them with the best possible equipment."

Peter S. Carozza, Jr., President of the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Union wrote in his endorsement letter: “Following the recommendation of our Legislative Committee, Executive Board, and Statewide Delegates, the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut heartily endorses Norm Needleman’s candidacy for the 33rd Senate District. We are proud of our association with you and look forward to our growing partnership.”

The Connecticut Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association works to raise the standards of all who are gainfully employed in the act of Protection, Prevention or Extinguishment of Fire, delivery of Emergency Medical Services or Response to Hazardous Materials Incidents.  The Association is a clearinghouse for all statewide legislation introduced by all subordinate locals and provides affiliated locals with advice and service whenever it is deemed necessary.

In his endorsement letter, John D. Castiline, President of the State Police Union wrote: “This endorsement comes as a result of Norm Needleman’s support for public safety and his appreciation and understanding of the issues our Union has faced in the past. His commitment to public safety and Trooper safety is truly appreciated by the entire union membership. Together, we can make Connecticut a safer place for all who live in, travel through or visit or our great State.”

The Connecticut State Police Union represents 1,040 members including Troopers, Sergeants, and Master Sergeants across Connecticut.

Norm Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook. 

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business to become a leader in its field, employing over 225 people.

Norm's Op-Ed: Here’s what needs to happen in Hartford


As First Selectman in Essex, I have been responsible for developing detailed municipal budgets for seven years. But my responsibilities go way beyond a spreadsheet: I also manage the day-to-day delivery of every service and function funded in those budgets. That experience has provided me with a firsthand perspective that will give our district a credible voice in the state Senate, not only in financial management, but also in making budgeted services work in the real world.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the course of my years in elected office:

1. The blame game is unproductive. Cooperation works, finger pointing doesn’t. Political gamesmanship cripples any real chance for forging long-term solutions. A meaningful and open dialogue among all stakeholders is the way to approach and solve difficult problems.

2. Budgets should start with reliable revenue projections. Government has to live within its means. The budget process should begin with revenue projections that are both reasonable and reliable. Overly optimistic revenue projections have caused budget instability, knee-jerk fixes, and fluctuating funding for our towns, making local budgets unstable and compromising delivery of services.

3. Shared sacrifice is required. Interest groups, legislators, and the administration must come to the table recognizing a stark reality: We won’t always get what we want. Everyone will not leave the table happy, but all of us in positions of trust have to share responsibility for putting the state on the road to financial stability.

4. There is a solution to the state’s problems. Job creation through aggressive economic development is the way to truly solve the state’s financial crisis. We need a comprehensive, long-term business plan — not just an advertising plan — that will define the path to attracting businesses of all sizes and the high paying jobs that come with them. Those businesses want certainty, not a constant refrain of gloom and doom. No business can succeed without a plan. The state needs one, too.

5. Do the job you were elected to do. Our soon-to-be-elected legislators and our next governor have three key responsibilities: first, manage spending and make government as efficient as possible; second, develop a stable budget based on solid revenue projections; third, demonstrate fiscal responsibility through thoughtful, disciplined planning.

Does all of that work in the real world? Essex serves as an example. Democrats, Republicans and independents work side by side to get things done. Budgets have been balanced for years, and have been unanimously approved by the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, and by everyone present at public budget meetings. We generate ideas that help us do more with less, keeping our property taxes among the lowest in the state while maintaining high quality services. We streamlined municipal government to make it more efficient and more responsive to everyone we serve. And, all of our decisions — every one of them —put people ahead of politics.

That’s the experience and the attitude we need in Hartford

NARAL Pro-Choice America Endorses Norm Needleman

NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the nation’s leading women’s health advocacy organizations, has announced its endorsement of Norm Needleman for the State Senate seat from the 33rd District in Connecticut.

The objective of NARAL Pro-Choice America candidate endorsements is to “elect champions who don’t just pay lip service to values of reproductive freedom, but who truly fight for them…and help defeat those who want to roll back the clock on our rights.”

In accepting the endorsement, Needleman said: “We must continue our efforts to make certain that women have the right to choose how and when to raise a family, that paid family leave is assured, and that pregnancy discrimination is erased from the workplace. The endorsement by NARAL-Pro-Choice America is deeply gratifying. It strengthens my longstanding commitment to insure that basic reproductive rights are guaranteed to all women in or district, our state, and our nation.”

Norm Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook. 

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business to become a leader in its field, employing over 225 people.


It’s Time That Connecticut Catches Up to Massachusetts By Adopting a Real Gender Pay Equity Law

Local businessman and state senate candidate Norm Needleman today called for Connecticut to adopt a strong gender pay equity law. Needleman pointed to Massachusetts’ law as a model which Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed into law in 2016.

“On average, women in Connecticut earn only 83 cents for every dollar their male counterparts work, and the gap only widens for women of color,” said Needleman. “As the owner of a business, I know we need to invest in our workers. Connecticut must do more to ensure equal pay for equal work for all Connecticut workers - regardless of gender - and deliver on the promise of equal opportunities to earn competitive salaries in the workplace. Massachusetts was able to pass a bipartisan bill - why hasn’t Connecticut been able to do the same?”

Needleman called for following Massachusetts’ lead by passing a law that:
-Bans employers from using a worker’s previously earned wages as a defense against a charge of pay inequity;
-Imposes strong penalties for companies that violate pay equity laws;
-Protects employees from losing seniority based on time spent on maternity or other family or medical leave;
-Strengthens the requirement that employers provide “comparable” pay for workers performing similar duties;
-Clarifies the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities’ ability to investigate complaints of discrimination when wages are involved.

Norm Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook. 

Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business to become a leader in its field, employing over 225 people.


Ziobron’s Record is Clear: She Will Not Protect Women from Washington Policies

Norm Needleman, candidate for the State Senate in the 33rd District warned that recent actions by the federal government to roll back sexual assault policies on college campuses could also come to Connecticut if State Rep. Melissa Ziobron has her way.

In 2016, long before the #metoo movement, Rep. Ziobron was one of only 7 of her colleagues to oppose a bill that would require an affirmative consent policy on college campuses. The law defines consent as both parties involved in sexual activity affirmatively agreeing to it.

“Even when Melissa learned that 1 in 10 students at the University of Connecticut reported being sexually assaulted she still voted no,” Needleman said, “To be this out of touch is frightening, especially what we now know from the #metoo movement and a growing number of sexual assault scandals involving celebrities, public officials, and others in positions of power.”

Needleman warned that even more threats to women are coming in the wake of a recent order issued by the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

The new DeVos policy will require higher education institutions receiving federal dollars to investigate assaults only if they take place on campuses - excluding other locations like fraternity houses and off campus housing. The administration will also reduce the legal liability higher education institutions have in cases of sexual assault, even those involving faculty members.

“Given her voting record there’s no doubt she’ll come down on the side of DeVos and Washington, D.C. as they continue to roll back hard fought protections for women. That just doesn’t make sense,” Needleman said, “I pledge to continue the progress Connecticut has made protecting women from assault and harassment.”

Working Together, Building Consensus

It has been a busy few weeks on the campaign trail.

I have knocked on doors in Westbrook, Portland, Haddam and East Haddam, enjoyed Farmers’ Markets in Chester, Colchester and Old Saybrook as well as live music performed by talented musicians in East Hampton, visited thriving businesses in Clinton, Lyme and Deep River, and continued to serve my constituents as the First Selectman of Essex.

In my interactions with community members from all walks of life, there is a recurring theme: regardless of political party affiliation, people recognize that this is a crucial election for our district. They have seen, firsthand, that political posturing and inaction in Hartford have exacted a steep price from the towns in our district.

There are no quick fixes to decades of shortsighted budget decisions, partisan leadership, and policies that have crippled the state’s economy. Solving those problems requires precisely what’s missing in Hartford: real-world economic development experience, management skills, persistence, and the ingenuity that leads to common sense solutions. I urge you to reach beyond party affiliation, and vote for meaningful change in Hartford.

It’s time to work together, build consensus, put people ahead of politics, and find smart solutions for our communities. That’s the attitude I will bring to the State Senate.

Less Than 100 Days To Go!

This week marked a very important milestone: there are less than 100 days until the election. 

I am heartened by the support I have received from residents all across the state’s 33rd senate district, and I am continually amazed by all our communities have to offer. 

This past weekend, I had one of the best hamburgers I have ever tasted at the Colchester Farmer’s Market. When you could pull me away from the Lions Club food truck, I received a wealth of knowledge about the town’s schools, local government and businesses from important members of the community. From the garden club to leaders of the Land Trust, people have found ways to come together to support the greater good of their neighborhoods.

I had the privilege of knocking on doors in Essex and Portland. These towns represent the opposite ends of our senate district, however, residents are seeking the same goal: put people ahead of party. Conversations like these solidify my hope that together we will strengthen our communities and get our state back on track.

This coming weekend is the 33rd annual Essex Lobster Bake hosted by yet another coalition of engaged residents working to improve their neighborhoods, the Essex Lions Club. Funds raised at the event provide eye exams and glasses to those who cannot afford them, donations to food banks, disaster relief assistance, Christmas gifts to families in need and much more. 

This is newsworthy. This is what those in our communities need to tune into. Now more than ever, we must focus on coalescing around the volunteer organizations in our towns, all of which improve the quality of life in our community. 

Our campaign is focused. We are not allowing ourselves to be distracted by all of the surrounding noise. Moving forward we will continue to engage community members, elected officials, and other movers and shakers to find smart solutions to the most pressing issues facing our communities.