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Nov 03
​Month In Review - The Official Newsletter of FOCUS Government Affairs, October 2021

Municipal Elections

Voters in Connecticut had until 8 p.m. to cast their ballots on Tuesday to decide on local leaders in hundreds of contested municipal races. This election focused on local offices from top municipal executives, such as mayors or first selectmen, to boards of education, zoning boards and town clerks. Here were some of the significant races we followed:

  • Stamford: This was the most high profile race this cycle in Connecticut. Former MLB manager Bobby Valentine ran as a petitioning candidate against Rep. Caroline Simmons, a very popular Democrat. Valentine conceded to Simmons early Wednesday morning after absentee ballots were tallied. She will be the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor. It is likely that Simmons will resign from the legislature and a special election will be held in the near future for that seat.
  • Bristol: Democratic Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu lost in a challenge from Republican Jeffrey Caggiano. Zoppo-Sassu, who became the first woman to hold the office back in 2017, lost by more than 600 votes. This came as a surprise to many outside Bristol as Caggiano was considered a true underdog.
  • New Britain: Republican Erin Stewart easily won a fifth term as mayor in New Britain, making her the longest-serving GOP mayor of a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly a 4:1 margin. Stewart claimed victory over Democratic State Rep. Bobby Sanchez by a nearly 2:1 margin.
  • Westport: Democrats failed to flip an open seat for first selectman in a town that has been shifting more blue in the last few years. Republican Jennifer Tooker defeated democratic State Representative Jonathan Steinberg by only about 60 votes. Tooker ran on a platform of dealing with the pandemic fallout, local government control and addressing affordable housing.
  • Danbury: Republican Dean Esposito claimed victory over Democrat Roberto Alves. It was the first Danbury mayoral race not to have an incumbent in 20 years, following former 10-term Republican mayor Mark Boughton's appointment as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services.
  • West Haven: With the fallout with former State Rep. Michael DiMassa (more on this below), West Haven’s mayoral race was under much scrutiny and was closer than expected. West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi, a Democrat, claimed victory winning by a tight margin of 24 votes. There will likely be a recount. She was challenged by Republican Barry Lee Cohen.

DiMassa Resigns from Legislature

Last week, State Rep. Michael DiMassa resigned from the legislature following a federal investigation into West Haven’s spending of federal pandemic relief money. DiMassa, who represented the 116th district of West Haven, is accused of defrauding the City of West Haven of more than $600,000, according to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. He was released on a $250,000 bond. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development –
Office of Inspector General for Investigations are further investigating.

Sports Betting

Following a delay in the publication of the Memorandum of Understanding in the Federal Register, sports betting is now completely legal and licensed within the state of Connecticut. Retail sports betting launched in September at Connecticut’s two casinos and online gambling followed in October. Over the next 10 years, Connecticut is expected to receive $170 million in revenue.

Covid Vaccines Available for 5-11 Year-Olds

COVID-19 vaccination for Connecticut children age 5 through 11 will be available beginning today after final approvals from the CDC. The Connecticut Department of Public Health and Gov. Ned Lamont urged parents to get their children vaccinated against the virus as soon as possible. The state estimates the CDC's announcement made about 277,640 children between 5 and 11 are now eligible for the vaccine. For more information on where children and adults can get COVID-19 vaccines in Connecticut, including a search tool to find the closest available locations, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine.
 

Ten New Laws Took Effect October 1st

The Connecticut General Assembly debated and adopted several public acts in its 2021 regular session and June Special Session that took effect Oct 1.

  • The Bottle Bill: Certain retailers will be required as of Oct. 1 to have at least two reverse vending machines at their place of business under the state’s revamped beverage container redemption law, also known as the “bottle bill.”
  • Pedestrian Safety Law: Drivers will be required to slow or stop if a pedestrian is within any portion of the crosswalk, steps to the curb at a crosswalk’s entrance and indicates intent to cross by raising a hand or arm to oncoming traffic.
  • PFAS: A new law bans offering for sale or promotional purposes food packaging with polyfluoroalkyl substance, also known as PFAS, intentionally introduced during manufacturing or distribution.
  • Marijuana: Medical marijuana patients who are 18 or older can start growing up to three mature and three immature plants at home.

Other laws passed involve employment age and gender wage discrimination, a law expanding the safety procedures of ice cream trucks, expanding the definition of domestic violence, an emergency lien assistance program and a restriction smoking in certain areas.
 

Governor Lamont’s Executive Orders


During a public health emergency, the Governor essentially can run the state via executive order. Please review the Governor's most recent Executive Orders:

14 A: Takes several emergency actions in response to the
COVID-19 outbreak and the governor's civil preparedness and public health declarations, including: Revised version of
Executive Order No. 14.

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