PORTLAND — Transit-oriented economic development and luring young people to take jobs and settle in Connecticut were the hot topics Friday morning at an intimate Main Street diner, where lieutenant governor hopeful Susan Bysiewicz joined fellow Democratic candidates vying for statewide office.
Bysiewicz was joined at Sarah’s Place, 246 Main St., by fellow Democrats Susan Bransfield, first selectwoman of Portland; Selectman Ralph Zampano, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, candidate for state Sen. Art Linares’ seat in the 33rd Senate District; and Laurel Steinhauser, who is running to unseat state Rep. Christie Carpino in the 34th House District.
In Portland, a $1 million bond is paying for construction of new sidewalks to encourage a walkable village area. The town has received a Connecticut Community Connectivity grant to redo Main Street sidewalks, said Bransfield, who is a big proponent of “coalescing” municipalities.
Investing in tourism is key to encouraging economic development, Bysiewicz said. “Every dollar that you put in is $3 in economic development for the state.”
Ensuring there is affordable, nearby and convenient methods of travel is crucial to attracting young people to Connecticut’s workforce, she said.
Essex also received a connectivity grant from the state, which it’s using to build sidewalks and crosswalks, Needleman said. “We’ve been committed to making Essex walk-friendly from one end of town to the other.”
He hopes new leadership at the Capitol will encourage bipartisan efforts to tackle the state’s most pressing issues.
“It there’s a key message here, the relationship between the municipalities, the Legislature and Executive Branch, has been strained at best. It doesn’t matter that we are in the same party. What really matters is we need to get everybody on the same page to not continue the message that the state is going down the tubes,” he said.
Towns are reaching across the aisle to accomplish many things, Bysiewicz said.