In support of Ned Lamont

To the editor:

On Aug. 14, Darien Democrats will go to the polls to vote for their choice to be the next governor of the state of Connecticut. This primary and the general election that follows in November represent a critical step on the road back to normalcy that our country has lost over the past 18 months. I urge all Democratic primary voters in Darien to get out and vote and support Ned Lamont for their next governor.

As our next governor, Ned Lamont will stand up for Connecticut values, building a fair economy that creates jobs and respects workers, as well as improving our schools and preserving the environment. Ned strongly believes in providing the best possible conditions for people to succeed by increasing access to affordable, quality health care.

Darien Democrats, please remember to vote on Aug 14. and support Ned Lamont for governor.

Christine Castles

Darien

Emotional trauma

for children crossing the border

To the editor:

We have all seen and read about the practice of separating children from their parents at the southern border. Most people are disturbed by the concept of separating families. But we encourage everyone to truly consider what this separation can mean for these vulnerable children — their psychological well-being in particular.

The children crossing the border have already been subjected to severe stress — from crime and poverty in their home country to the challenges of extensive travel. They have often had too little food, water and sleep. Think about your own children. How would they react to these conditions? And then to be taken away from their parents and held in warehouse conditions? Add to this burden that they may not speak the language of those who are now responsible for them.

The immediate trauma to these children is obvious. What about the long-term consequences? Decades of psychological and brain research show that the impact of traumatic events, including separations from caregivers, can be far-reaching and long-lasting. Without proper treatment, a child who experiences a sudden separation from his parents is more likely to develop compromised attachments and debilitating symptoms of anxiety and depression.

With adequate mental health and emotional support, however, the harm to these children can be mitigated. Unfortunately, we have read next to nothing about the support the children receive in the detention centers where they are housed. Are trained mental health clinicians even available to these children in distress?

We write this letter as advocates for children who are not able to speak for themselves.

The Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut is committed to improving the mental and behavioral health of children and teens. Every day, our team of 55 counselors treat children who have experienced trauma from a range of circumstances, including community violence and physical abuse, the loss of parents, neglect caused by parental opioid abuse, and sexual abuse. Because we routinely see local kids struggling with these issues, the situation at the southern border is very real to us. We recognize how much pain these children are feeling. We understand all too well the professional support they’ll need to move on from this harrowing experience without long-term scars.

We work tirelessly to ensure that kids in our community who are struggling with mental health issues can go on to live happy and successful lives. The children at the border deserve no less. We urge you to contact your local legislators to ensure that these children get the help they need.

Georgette Harrison, Jessica Welt, Eliot Brenner, Rich Ostuw and Jill Gordon

Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut

Focusing on the big stuff for a change

To the editor:

To begin to recover from the damage that Gov. Dan Malloy has inflicted on Connecticut, we must first get our priorities right. We must separate the important from the unimportant — the big stuff from the small stuff.

Let me elaborate.

For too long we have placed few demands on our state legislators. Usually, it’s been enough to see them smiling and shaking hands at public gatherings and social events. That’s the small stuff.

The big stuff happens elsewhere, in Hartford, away from the eyes of their constituents. It is when our representatives are in Hartford that we should ask: Do they vote for our interests or somebody else’s interests? It can be hard to know the answer as we’re busy with our normal lives with friends and families while trying to make a living. But then there are times when the answer becomes pretty obvious.

It is certainly obvious in the case of state Sen. Bob Duff, now in his 13th year representing the 25th state Senatorial district, which includes all of Norwalk and most of Darien. He has achieved renown as a master of the small stuff. Hardly any ribbon cutting or a groundbreaking ever goes by without being blessed by his appearance before the camera. The big stuff? Not so much. Let’s look at some examples.

Just recently he tweeted the following statement: “Another transportation investment shunned by Republicans in our state. Amazing! Glad the Democrats had the vision to make it happen.”

The same day, the papers in Hartford and New Haven were aglow with pictures of Mr. Duff and his leader, Gov. Malloy, along with assorted other officials enjoying a train ride. That was the subject of his tweet. The “investment” is the new commuter rail line from New Haven to Hartford, which eventually will continue on from Hartford to Springfield, Mass.

For some reason, though, Mr. Duff doesn’t tell us WHY many people — and not just Republicans — haven’t been so keen on the idea. How many of us in Norwalk and Darien need to commute by train from New Haven to Hartford? And yet the price tag for Malloy’s grandiose rail system, which taxpayers in Mr. Duff’s senatorial district are paying a large share of, will likely amount to billions of dollars when completed. Big stuff.

The system will also require never-ending taxpayer subsidies to operate because it will never carry enough passengers to sustain itself. All this while Connecticut under Malloy verges on bankruptcy, and as hundreds of taxpayers pack up and head for the exits every week.

Another Malloy boondoggle is the new 10-mile roadway between Hartford and New Britain built for the exclusive use of commuter buses. More big stuff. It has a price tag of over $700 million. But how many of us in Norwalk or Darien need to hop on a bus from New Britain to Hartford?

Yet Bob Duff, when not showing up at ribbon cuttings, was fully supportive of Malloy in spending Norwalk-Darien taxpayer money on those distant projects.

Meanwhile, there’s Metro-North, a far more vital rail system that runs right through Duff’s district. It is vital nationally as well as locally given its terminus in the financial capital of the country. Big stuff. But whenever Mr. Duff has bothered to notice Metro-North, it’s only to stand aside as Gov. Malloy raids the state transportation fund to spend on other things. This, as service on Metro-North continues to deteriorate, and as fares go up.

The saying in politics is that the job of an elected representative or senator is to “bring home the bacon,” the key word being “home.” But Mr. Duff’s guiding principle seems to be to bring the bacon to anyplace but home.

Rather than “standing up for you,” the slogan he trots out every election year, he stands behind a system in which Norwalk gets back less than 10 percent of the money we send to Hartford, and Darien gets back less than 1 percent.

But thanks to his years of seniority in the state Senate, Mr. Duff finds himself with the title of majority leader. His leadership of anything, however, has been notoriously absent, given his preference for servility to Gov. Malloy.

We are now in a time when a lot more big stuff needs close attention. It includes how the Walk Bridge in Norwalk will be replaced, getting our fair share of state education funding, fending off the Malloy’s plan for highway tolls, to name a few. Given Mr. Duff’s history as a Mini-Malloy, how much can we rely on him to do the right thing on those and other big issues?

I don’t think we can, which is why I’ve stepped forward to be the Republican nominee to replace him. I grew up in Norwalk from the age of 8, was educated in Norwalk public schools, and earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Connecticut. My wife and I and our two daughters love living in Norwalk and have great optimism for its future. I’ve established a successful business here. I know how jobs are created.

And unlike the incumbent state senator, my priorities will be on the interests of my constituents.

Marc D’Amelio

Editor’s note: Marc D’Amelio is the Republican candidate for the 25th state Senate seat, currently held by Democrat Bob Duff, the majority leader in the state Senate.