DARIEN — With the election right around the corner unopposed Republican state Rep. Terrie Wood has one major priority.

“The budget,” she said. “It’s the single most critical issue of this election.”

Putting the state back onto a path of fiscal sustainability is something the general assembly and the governor will have to solve over the next two years. One of the things that needs to be done to solve this is a restructuring of the underfunded pension liability, Wood said. Decades of governors in both parties underfunding this responsibility has led to the problem.

“I believe It’s very important to recognize our obligation to state employees,” she said.

Wood represents the 141st House District, which covers parts of Norwalk and Darien. The renegotiation of the state union member benefits was also important. Through renegotiating they can start putting these benefits into statue instead of contract.

“We’re one of the few states in the country that collectively bargain for benefits for our state employees,” Wood said.

The unions stronghold over the Democrats have hurt the state financially, she said. The benefits can be 30 to 40 percent more than any other state or private sector.

“Growing the economy is dependent to some degree, maybe even a large degree, on restructuring our pension liability and modifying our union benefit,” Wood said.

Through this companies will see the state is taking it’s fiscal situation seriously and is making positive steps forward. While Wood has big plans in Hartford she never forgets the district she represents.

A longtime Darien resident she is actively involved in the community, which led to her being asked to run for the legislature 10 years ago.

“I love to work on land preservation and environmental efforts that creates environmental sustainability in Connecticut,” Wood said. “I’ve also been a big proponent for kids with learning disabilities, particularly Dyslexia and mental health. Those three areas I’ll continue to work on.”

Wood said through listening and honoring people’s feelings she’s garnered support from Republicans and even Democrats.

“I’ve had liberal Democrats say ‘Terrie I’m a liberal Democrat and I’m 100 percent for what you’re trying to do’,” Wood said.

Even though she’s unopposed she has not lost her passion. Wood said every morning she wakes up with a fire in her belly to work to change the fiscal situation in Connecticut.

“By helping the state we’re going to be able to help the people who need services that we should be providing,” she said. “Particularly the developmentally disabled, the kids with learning disabilities and the environment for example.”

She also has gone door knocking to hear from her constituents.

“I’ve had more fun an engaging conversations this year than I ever had,” Wood said. “I want to hear what people are thinking.”

During her time in Hartford she co-chaired the mental health part of the gun safety bill that was passed after Sandy Hook, one of her proudest moments.

“I believe strongly in our social-emotional learning program and making sure people are able to access mental health care when they need it,” Wood said.

She also co-introduced with Marilyn Moore, state senator representative for the 22 district, legislation to protect the 10 essential health benefits for women and children.

“So if the affordable care act is repealed in Washington, Connecticut would still protect those benefits for women and children,” Wood said.

Focusing on the issues and what can be accomplished helps to minimize frustration. This is one of the reasons she works across the aisle. Wood credits her parents for teaching her the importance of listening to others.

She said her experience outside of politics is what has helped her a lot. Back in 2000 she was a co-chair of the YES ... DHS Referendum Committee for a new Darien High School. She was one of the key members to persuade people in voting to fund the new building, leading to the largest voter turnout in the history of the town.

“I couldn’t even tell you who was what party,” Wood said. “I come from a background on focusing on solutions rather than party politics.”

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