By SHERIDAN CYR
State Representative Liz Linehan (D-103) and Middletown Mayor Dan Drew (D) have terminated their joint campaign for lieutenant governor and governor, but Linehan is still pushing onward with her own campaign to keep her current seat in the state legislation.
“I was asked to join Dan Drew’s campaign at a time when we were working on this budget, and I could see very readily that we were having another yearly issue that we seem to have, which is balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class,” said Linehan. “I really believed, and I still believe, that if he were to be elected governor, that we would finally be elevating the middle class, however there have been a lot of people entering the race and a lot of things have happened and, ultimately, we did have to suspend and then end our campaign.”
She said she does not regret the decision. “I still believe in fighting for the middle class. It’s what I’ve done since the beginning, and what I will continue to do as a state representative.”
One of Linehan’s key focus points are manufacturing jobs in the state. She pointed out that there are job openings in many manufacturing companies in the state, and not enough qualified potential employees to fill them.
“One of my missions is to introduce high-tech manufacturing to our young people,” said Linehan. She explained that last year, she started a program in which hundreds of students were set up with manufacturers to learn about what jobs are available. She now looks to expand that project, working with the Department of Labor to introduce pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to high school students they can start earning while they learn.
“Kids can graduate high school and start a job in a high-tech manufacturing industry. These are real careers, and I’ve worked with companies in my district who say, ‘We have these jobs but we don’t have people to fill them,’” she said, noting there is a perception problem with manufacturing jobs. She said people believe the jobs are dirty, dangerous and consist of long hours of manual labor. “That’s just not the case anymore.”
She added that many manufacturing companies are willing to pay and offer benefits to apprentices, and even offer financial assistance for college.
“I want to make sure we are focusing our energy on bringing people into Connecticut — and keeping them in — and filling jobs,” said Linehan. “The people moving out in masses are the middle class, and those are the people in my district, the people just like me.”
She said the state needs to address the property taxes rising in towns and cities across the state. “We need to make sure we are not underfunding our municipalities. We need a property tax system overhaul. If we continue to cut municipal aid and property taxes continue to rise, nobody’s going to be able to afford Connecticut.”
Linehan also considers herself a big advocate for youth issues. Last year she produced four bills that passed, and three of which became a law. One was an autism training program for police. Another was a human trafficking bill, which said that soliciting a minor for sex is a class A felony.
“This year, I am making that felony a registerable offense on the sex offender registry. We need to stop the predators,” she said.
For more information on State Rep. Liz Linehan, including contact information, updates and other happenings, visit www.housedems.ct.gov/linehan.