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Palm Makes Her Case for a Second Term

By October 26, 2020 No Comments

Former Republican State Rep. Robert Siegrist is running to unseat one-term incumbent Democrat Christine Palm in a rematch of their 2018 race for state representative in the 36th district, which includes Chester, Essex and Deep River. In their previous contest, Palm bested Siegrist by a margin of 212 votes, 50.8 to 49.2 percent.

Palm has been endorsed by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, the Sunrise Movement, and the Sierra Club of Connecticut. She has worked variously as a reporter, teacher, and a communications director for several nonprofits, and she provides sexual harassment trainings for corporations. She also previously owned a historic bowling alley in West Hartford called The Alley. 

Siegrist did not respond to numerous and varied attempts to reach him for an interview.

The economy

Asked about balancing the state budget, given that in August, Gov. Ned Lamont directed agency heads to plan for deep cuts to the state budget of 10 percent, Palm said that she would support increasing revenue rather than cutting programs.

“What population of people is undeserving? What program is irrelevant? They never can come up with anything. Cutting is very hard,” she said. “You can’t cut your way to prosperity, or even stability at this point.” 

Palm said that nonprofits and teacher pensions particularly need to be protected. 

“What population of people is undeserving? What program is irrelevant? They never can come up with anything. Cutting is very hard,” she said. “You can’t cut your way to prosperity, or even stability at this point.” 

“The social service and mental health organizations — they are running right now on fumes,” she said. 

Palm proposed three methods for increasing state revenues: legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana, creating a toll program and increasing taxes on people she referred to as “the uber-wealthy” — people with passive income streams of more than $1 million. 

Affordable housing

Asked what the role of the state should be in regulating local zoning, Palm said she would support mandates surrounding affordable housing. 

“I believe in local autonomy, but the problem with that ferocious home-rule mentality is that the needle doesn’t move forward,” said Palm.

“I believe in local autonomy, but the problem with that ferocious home-rule mentality is that the needle doesn’t move forward,” said Palm.

“What people don’t understand about affordable housing is that young people need it. Older people need it. Students need it,” she said. “People who work in the arts, social workers, people who don’t make a ton of money can take advantage of those of that housing. And those are the kinds of people who make a town vibrant.”

Energy

When asked how the legislature should address issues of energy cost and distribution, Palm said that Eversource needs to be more tightly regulated.

“It’s a monopoly posing as a public utility,” she said. “They have virtually no competition. And then they’re in the business of keeping people safe and they have failed miserably.” 

She said she would like to see Eversource broken up and its business transferred to small municipal power grids. She also supports the “Take Back Our Grid Act” that would, among other things, force utility companies to compensate people for food losses during power outages, put in place minimum staffing and require public hearings on rate changes. 

Police accountability

Palm voted for the police accountability bill passed in special session in July, and she continues to support it, including the provision on qualified immunity. 

“My views on qualified immunity are exactly what I said on the floor of the house. It does not penalize good cops. It does not penalize responsible people,” Palm said.

“My views on qualified immunity are exactly what I said on the floor of the house. It does not penalize good cops. It does not penalize responsible people,” Palm said.

“[Police] should go into their profession with a personal commitment to protect the public, and those who don’t should it be held accountable, which is what I believe this bill does,” she said. “It does not punish or take away the homes of reasonable, responsible police who find themselves in an altercation because of a dangerous situation.” 

Other pieces of the bill that Palm views as critical are demilitarization, training in de-escalation techniques and use of bodycams. 

Executive power

Palm said she supported Gov. Ned Lamont’s use of executive power during the coronavirus, including his extension of emergency powers into February. 

“I think that the Governor has done an extraordinarily good job. The fact that Connecticut has the lowest or among the lowest infection rates in the country is not a coincidence,” she said. “It’s because we shut down early. We were strict. Mandatory masks, the things that some people complain about — that’s what has kept us way ahead of the curve.” 

Palm said that although she would much rather be in the legislature voting on bills, she believes that quick decision making is what is necessary right now. 

“The general assembly is not a nimble body. It’s a deliberative body,” she said. “This is not the time to have endless thoughtful debates.” 

Priorities

Asked about her top priorities in the coming session, Palm said she plans to continue working on two bills that she introduced into the legislature during her first term. One mandates the teaching of climate change in schools and the other bans commercial seismic surveying, a process in which companies send sound waves down to the ocean floor to locate oil and gas deposits. This process, said Palm, can harm marine animals that use echolocation. 

She said that she has been trying to figure out a way to connect parents with childcare workers, to help working adults whose children are only in school a few days per week. She said she is speaking with the Office of Policy Management and looking into potential funding sources. 

Palm also said she wants to make sure that the legislature doesn’t roll back the minimum wage increases. Essential workers, she said, need to be protected. 

“When we get ‘back to normal,’ what’s going to happen to all of this pouring of love and gratitude and red hearts hanging from trees? Are you going to pay those people a living wage?” she said.   

Palm said that she also wants to make it easier for individuals to testify at public hearings at the Capitol. Currently, public officials are given the opportunity to speak first, a process that can leave constituents waiting for hours to testify. 

“I would like to make it much more accessible to working families because usually … the people who have the means to come to the Capitol and testify are retired, independent, have their own businesses, lawyers, people who can take time off,” she said. 

“It’s very hard when you’re a single parent, or you’re physically disabled, or you don’t have the money — you can’t afford to take your day off from your job at McDonald’s. Those are voices that need to be heard,” she said.

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