Pam Staneski: Listening to residents in the 119th

State Rep. Pam Staneski said she doesn’t knock on doors only before an election. After she was elected to her first term two years ago, she continued to knock on doors to ask people about the issues that mattered to them.

The Milford Mirror caught up with Staneski, a Republican, and her campaign coordinator, Ann Fabian, last week off Woodruff Road. At that point, Staneski had knocked on 3,236 doors this election season. “The goal is to reach 5,000 houses by Election Day,” said Fabian.

Staneski says she’s accessible, and not just to Republicans. When she’s campaigning, she knocks on all the doors where there are voters, Republican, Democrat or undecided, because she said she represents them all.

She gives out her cell phone number to her constituents: It’s on her campaign flyer.

“I need to hear firsthand what people are saying,” Staneski said.

For Staneski, winning the election in 2014 followed a lot of walking and knocking on doors, and two prior bids for the seat.

“It’s a lot harder in the game than sitting on the sidelines,” she said, commenting on her first term as representative of the 119th district.

She said she’s been responsive, and admitted that a couple of times she missed the mark. But she’s not afraid to admit that, and she said she’s learned a lot during her first term. She said she learned what it takes to get legislation passed, including the nuances involved. She talked about her first piece of legislation that was adopted, SB 294 — which requires the Commissioner of Developmental Services to take certain actions relating to the Department of Developmental Services waiting list, to require the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management to consult with stakeholders on a plan to close facilities operated by the department and to require advance notice when an individual with intellectual disability eligibility for state-assisted care will end. When the law passed and she saw families of those who had pushed for the bill crying with relief, she knew she’d made a difference.

During her first term, she wasn’t thrilled with the level of divisiveness she said she saw between the parties. Staneski said the GOP had a budget plan but it was “dismissed” by the Democrats, and she said a lack of bipartisan effort led to the second largest tax increase in the state’s history.

“Democrats have been in control 30 years, and this is where we are,” she said.

Taxes, spending, bonding all have to be addressed, she said. “Give us a chance to lead,” Staneski said.

She said the two parties have similar goals; they just have different paths toward reaching those goals.

Fabian said Staneski’s strength lies in the fact that she listens, then she does her homework, and “she never gets tired and she never gives up.”

In her campaign material, Staneski says, “We are at a financial crossroads in Connecticut. I remain committed to championing sound fiscal policies that include long-term structural changes that will provide predictability, sustainability and a vision like that outlined in the House Republicans-proposed Pathway to Sustainability plan.”

“On the floor of the House, I embraced a bipartisan measure that protected Connecticut consumers from ‘variable electric rates’ contracts that lure citizens with low introductory rates and then rapidly increase costs,” she said.

She argues that Connecticut should be doing much better than it is.

During her first term, Staneski pushed to reform the affordable housing law, advocated for changes in what she called the “inequitable” Medicaid reimbursement rate for local assisted living facilities, sponsored legislation to help students with dyslexia, spoke out against legislation she said would have hurt the Boys & Girls Club of Milford’s after-school program, encouraged policies to promote manufacturing, testified in support of the shellfish industry, and stood up for the developmentally disabled.

The 119th Assembly District includes portions of Milford and Orange. Democrat Ben Gettinger is challenging Staneski for the seat.

(Check back later to read about challenger Ben Gettinger)