Kennedy ready to take on state issues as 119th District representative
Kathy Kennedy, 61, says she is a jeans and boots kind of woman, and she doesn’t want to change just because she’s been elected state representative of the 119th District.
She wants to make sure she stays true to the character and the person that won the race Nov. 6.
Kennedy received a text from an old high school friend just after the election that she’s saved and plans to read often to remind herself to be herself and to not let a new title give her an ego.
The text is from a fellow Amity High School graduate who was president of the class while she was the secretary.
“Remember, you are as smart (maybe smarter) as the next guy and you have been prepping for this all your life,” the text reads.
This is Kennedy’s first stint as a politician: She won the race against Democrat Ellen Russell Beatty, a city alderman with a doctorate in education and a host of accomplishments to her name. Kennedy never served on a local board or commission, though she has been very active in the local and state PTAs, including serving as president of the state PTA.
The text from her old high school friend makes it clear that he is not a big fan of politicians, but he refers to Kennedy’s big heart and praises her despite her entry into the political arena.
“I know you will do a fine job and the people in Milford are lucky to have you,” he writes, adding, “You can’t be all things to all people. Don’t even try.”
And that is one of the key messages she says she will hold on to as she learns the ropes in Hartford and works to represent the 119th District.
“This is me, wearing my jeans and my boots,” she said. “I want to be approachable.”
She will be sworn in Jan. 9 as the representative of her district, and for now she has been doing her homework, studying the General Assembly’s website for rules and information that might help her.
Since Election Day, she’s been meeting some new people, getting emails from non-profit groups and others who want her to know who they are.
She has a list of committees she would like to be named to, and although her PTA background might suggest education would top her list, public safety is on the top. Next is public health, children, general law, environment and then education.
“I’m excited to get up there and learn,” Kennedy said, adding that she is very detail oriented and organized, and thinks those attributes will help her make a difference on the state level.
Up until now, Kennedy has worked several jobs: She is an administrative assistant in the city’s legal department and she records minutes for a number of city boards and commissions. She’s been recording the Board of Aldermen meetings for 19 years, but with the new work in Hartford, she is saying goodbye to that, and will weigh her obligations to the other boards in the near future.
Ending her minute-taking for the city aldermen will be sad, Kennedy said, adding that she really enjoys it.
But all those years observing local politics has taught her some valuable lessons about politics in general. “I think the biggest thing is you have to do your homework,” she said. “You have to be prepared all the time. You have to listen.”
Of all the politicians she has worked with over the years in Milford, several stand out as role models, she said, and they weren’t all Republicans. One of her favorites was the late Alan Jepson, a Democrat, longtime city clerk and former mayor. “I learned a lot from him,” Kennedy said.
She also looks back at years gone by, and recalls politicians like Bert Munroe, a Democrat; Al DeLuca, a Democrat, and Walter Farley, a Republican, whom she said “were gentlemen.”
She also mentions leaders here like former Alderman Una Glennon, a Democrat, and Michele Collins, a Republican, and the late Republican Mayor Fred Lisman.
The takeaway from them is be smart, and don’t make the politics about yourself but rather the issues.
“It’s a good group of people I’ve worked with over the years,” Kennedy said.