His wide, patented grin washed across his face as Joe Aresimowicz stepped to the podium to accept his gavel. This will be his second term as Connecticut’s Speaker of the House. Once again, a Southington representative will have the top job in the House.
We know from experience that this is a mixed blessing. Last year, having a Democrat Speaker seemed to be the final straw that put Southington smack dab in the center of the governor’s crosshairs even though they shared the same party affiliation. It didn’t help to also have a staunch Republican (in the middle of his campaign for lieutenant governor) as another representative in the town.
As the state’s Democrats and Republicans alike turned against former Gov. Dannel Malloy, Southington must have looked like a neon bullseye to the floundering politician. At times, it seemed like he was taking out his political frustrations on Southington like an angry toddler in a kindergarten playroom. With a change of leadership, we’re back to being hopeful about our Southington contingent in Hartford. It’s a good, bipartisan group that should have influence over every sector of the community.
Every legislator except Aresimowicz was named to three state committees, and there really isn’t an issue that won’t be touched by one of Southington’s lawmakers. Aresimowicz, as Speaker of the House, could have influence over the entire assembly. At the very least, he will be his party’s leader in the House, but he isn’t the only one with the ability to represent Southington during the 2019-20 session.
Rob Sampson is a rookie in the senate, but the former representative has a long history of going to bat for Southington issues. He will have a voice in three committees: government administration and elections; judiciary; and finance, revenue and bonding.
Rep. John Fusco is the only representative with Southington as his sole focus. No longer a rookie, we expect him to take a more prominent position in the House as he serves in three committees that will greatly affect the Southington community: aging, public safety, and commerce.
Newcomer Gail Mastrofrancesco will serve on the appropriations and human services committees, as well as government administration and elections with Sampson.
In her second term, Liz Linehan will continue to focus on social issues with her three committees: children, education, and veterans affairs.
So, whether it’s finances, social issues, government administration, elections, or courts, on most days at least one Southington legislator will be involved in the discussion. That’s a big win for the town.
We want to remind this group that the elections are over. We don’t care if any single legislator is a Republican or a Democrat. You represent Southington. You are the stewards of a great public trust, and we need you to be our collective voice. Work together. Compromise if you must, and stand firm if it is necessary. But you will succeed or fail as a group.
This is Southington’s team. Like any team, someone will lead the offense. Someone else will lead the defense, and someone else will be the unsung hero in the trenches, blocking, passing, supporting, and transitioning in the middle of the field. If everybody does their job and works together, Southington is the one that wins. Go get ‘em.
To comment on this story or to contact Southington Observer editor John Goralski, email him at JGoralski@SouthingtonObserver.com.