Terrie Wood, who is running for her third term as the state representative of the 141st District, which covers Darien and Rowayton, never thought politics was what she would be doing.
A 33-year Darien resident, she resides in the house in which her husband grew up. She has three children, one who works at Post 53, and two in Darien's public schools.
She received a bachelor's degree from Rollins College and has "done a lot at the grass-roots level," she said. She started a nonprofit environmental group, was co-chairman of the high school referendum committee Yes...DHS!, spent four years as president of the Darien Land Trust, six years as a Darien Library trustee, 10 years on the Person-to-Person advisory board, two years on the Community Fund of the Darien Allocations Panel, four years on the Darien Republican Town Committee and two years on the Representative Town Meeting.
Five years ago, she was asked to run because she has a "broad understanding of the community."
"All of the things I was naturally interested in just formed a really good foundation to understand what we needed around here," Wood said, adding that it helps to understand the nonprofit world.
"That was great practice for being non-partisan because when you have that background you focus on the issue and not the party politics," she said. "I'm probably one of the least partisan people up [in Hartford]."
Addressing the economic situation in the state is Wood's top priority where Connecticut is concerned.
"We're in a very difficult economic situation," Wood said. "Not only the jobless rate is up, the unemployment rate is up higher than it's been in a very long time."
As a state, she said, Connecticut has not handled its finances in a responsible manner.
"I think that's one of the things I'm most proud of -- is advocating for more fiscal responsibility," she said.
Almost equally important to Wood is addressing raising the early literacy rate, particularly in the inner cities. "In the inner cities, it's painful. Darien and Norwalk are high-performing districts, particularly Darien," Wood said. "The kids come out well prepared for college. But, across the state, something like 80 percent of kids who go to community college have to take remedial education in math and English. Totally not right."
Where Darien is concerned, the affordable housing statute is at the top of her priority list.
"I've had some very good success moving the bill forward that would be an overlay zone," Wood said. "What it would do is enable towns, if they had this overlay zone, to not have to comply to [the statute] because the developers have a section in town where they can automatically put these units that are more dense than local zoning usually allows."
Wood doesn't think it's right that developers can just put what they want through town. "It's an unintended consequence and in Hartford we're always trying to be mindful of unintended consequence," Wood said.
Another amendment she plans to put forward if re-elected is that senior affordable housing should count as one full point rather than only half a point, as required under the statute now. "That's one discriminatory and two we want to makes sure seniors stay in town and encourage them to stay in town," Wood said.
Her second priority is protecting the shoreline and the natural resources. "Runoff from sewers is the largest source of pollution in the Long Island Sound, and I think anything we can do to absorb more of the runoff before it runs into the Long Island Sound would be very important," Wood said.
Wood serves on the Shoreline Preservation Task Force. "I was one of the first Republicans asked to be on there," she said.
Wood believes her four years as state representative gives her an edge over her Democratic competitor, Robert Werner.
"Not only have I had political experience, but, more importantly, I've had extensive nonprofit experience in towns and leadership in all of those roles," Wood said."With four years in Hartford, I now know it takes time. The legislative process, it just takes time. You can't step into it just knowing how to get it done. It takes time to build relationships and I'm very proud of the relationships I've built on both sides of the aisle. I know the process and I know the players."
Wood also believes the biggest difference from Werner is her experience. However, she does believe that they both want to focus on the issues and not negative-partisan politics. "I have respect for that," Wood said.
Her favorite aspects about Darien are its history and people. "There are really wonderful people in this town. They're honest, straightforward, hardworking and intelligent," Wood said.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-972-4407; twitter.com/megdariennews