Ask yourself one question: Are you happy with the way things are right now in Hamden?
I know I’m not.
Six years ago, I moved to Hamden because I saw it as a terrific place to raise a family and start a business. Since then, I’ve laid roots down, am helping run two family-owned grocery stores, and have met many customers whom I soon hope to call constituents. It’s the people I’ve met at my family’s store, Thyme & Season, who have fueled my interest in representing them in the 88th district.
I’ve learned a lot about why people are frustrated with local government — and I share those frustrations.
Time and time again, I hear from customers who are exasperated by the gridlock in Hartford. I hear about how it’s is hurting their wallets. Our property taxes have gone up and tough budget cuts have harmed our healthcare system. What’s worse is that we’ve been saddled by elected officials who are too afraid to try something new. Meanwhile, it’s Hamden’s residents who foot the bill for the indecision and inaction our legislators embody in Hartford.
It’s no wonder our economy can’t move forward. We need new leadership that will fight for innovative and actionable ideas that will generate revenue for Hamden. And someone who will fight hard for those ideas even when they aren’t popular in the General Assembly.
Here’s what I propose:
We need to jump-start our economy. We do that by ensuring our workers are paid enough to have disposable income required for a sustainable economy. Entrepreneurs need that wide and diverse customer base to start new enterprises. As a small business owner, I understand how hard it is to be profitable while staying affordable for customers and ensuring that employees are fairly paid. It’s a tight-rope.
That’s why it’s important to think about long term solutions, like raising the minimum wage. When working families earn more, they spend it locally and that helps our economy. I know this because I have a front row seat at Thyme & Season.
We need smart, fair taxation policy for millionaires, so that Hamden’s lower income families can thrive and contribute to our local economy. We have the second most millionaires in this state compared to every other state in the U.S. — and yet we have a lower top tax bracket than both New York and New Jersey. If millionaires pay their fair share, every low and middle income family will benefit in the long term. And that also includes millionaires. Money always flows back to capital owners.
Now, this one may be unpopular with the political establishment here in Hamden, but the benefit is too great and deserves serious consideration.
Legalize and tax pot
We need smart marijuana legalization and taxation policy that will inject Hamden’s economy with new revenue. The notion that legalizing marijuana will not help Hamden, as my opponents have said, is dubious and unqualified at best. Currently, recreational marijuana legalization is being considered in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. And last year, Colorado took in $115 million in revenue and that is set to be shattered this year. Proponents of legalization estimate that Connecticut could reap about $50 million or more in revenue. Personally, given our proximity to Boston and NYC, I think it will be more.
Two bills legalizing the recreational use of marijuana already failed during this year’s General Assembly session because of inaction — that’s emblematic of our current politicians. We’re in a budget crisis and we can’t afford to miss the boat on this. We could be the leaders, but only if we want to be.
I’ll leave you with this: How many bills die from inaction in the House of Representatives where our politicians are afraid to disappoint party leadership? Who knows? We don’t hear about it.
If they are afraid to shake things up, then maybe it’s time that we do exactly that. Our old policies have given us one of the worst budget crises in the U.S.
Josh Elliott, a Democrat, is a candidate for 88th District State Representative.