Election Profile: Gayle Slossberg says constituents drive priorities

Many issues come before the state Senate, and as a six-term representative of the 14th District, Democrat Gayle Slossberg has dealt with many of them. Her priorities, she said, include anything that is important to her constituents, from getting the economy back on track to education, to seniors and veterans, all the way to invasive bamboo.

Some issues, like families struggling to get appropriate education for developmentally disabled children, have brought her into the thick of things, sometimes to PPT meetings at schools to advocate for a child.

One on one, she also meets with entrepreneurs looking for opportunities to start new businesses here.

She recalls meeting with a woman who was unable to pay her hospital bills after a major illness, and then working with the hospital to forgive her debt.

“I don’t say ‘no’ to anyone and I try to do my best,” she said.

She’s walked constituents through switching electric suppliers.

Beyond the one on one, there’s the legislative work. State spending is a priority, she said, noting that she voted for the recent state budget that cut spending by $1.5 billion, which she believes will help Connecticut get its fiscal house in order.

“We still have challenges, but we can’t fix them in one year,” she said. “It would shut down our government.”

One of the state’s biggest financial problems stems from the fact that the pension obligation went unmet for years, and the state is now “paying for the sins of the past,” according to Slossberg.

The state is now working to pay down its pension obligation, she said.

Slossberg says the economy, though, isn’t all doom and gloom, as some politicians make it out to be. State unemployment is down, and there are more businesses coming into the state. Slossberg said there are 388 new businesses in Milford alone, bringing jobs in manufacturing and aerospace.

“Connecticut is a national leader in many areas,” she said.

Slossberg was endorsed by the CBIA, and she said she backs programs that help businesses stay here and thrive.

Regarding the recent deal to keep Sikorsky in the state, Slossberg pointed out that the deal also benefits Milford directly by offering funds for manufacturing companies here that work with Sikorsky, to retrofit and retool as Sikorsky moves to producing the King Stallion helicopters.

An attorney — she received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and her law degree from New York University School of Law —  Slossberg said one of her strengths is her ability to understand legislation.

She believes that to grow the economy, there needs to be good legislation that supports businesses, and the state government needs to vote down legislation that would hurt businesses. Spending must be prioritized, and at the same time the people who represent Milford must support businesses like Milford Hospital that are vital to the community.

“It would be devastating not to have Milford Hospital here,” she said. Slossberg has gone to bat to secure funding for Milford Hospital a number of times during her term as state Senator and said she will continue to do so.

She’s not afraid to go against the wishes of her party if her conscience directs her otherwise.

“I’m a proud Democrat, but that doesn’t mean I don't look at each issue on its own merits,” Slossberg said.

Addressing the affordable housing legislation, 8-30g, is a priority. “That’s very high on my list,” she said, noting that the issue is an urban/suburban fight and there are more urban legislators in Hartford than suburban. She’s proposed a number of reforms but said the votes weren’t there to pass them. But she plans to keep pushing and expects there may be some change in the next two years.

She’s proud of her position as Senate Chairman of the General Assembly’s education committee and plans to focus on education issues, such as college affordability.

Before going to Hartford in 2004, Slossberg served as Democratic minority leader for the Milford Board of Aldermen from 2001.

“We have a lot going for us in the state,” Slossberg said, “but we have a lot of work to do.”