This section is for blog posts related to my 2012 run for State Representative in the 114th Assembly District of Connecticut.

The Better Deal

On Thursday, Connecticut House Republican’s Chief of Staff George Gallo resigned as the word spread about a federal investigation into how candidates used a direct mail firm out of Florida. People asked me if that wasn’t the same firm that my opponent used in 2012. It was. Yet I don’t think she is any more culpable in this than Chris Donovan was in the improprieties that took place in his Congressional campaign. It is easy to suggest that the candidate either knew, or should have known about possible illegal activity. It is too easy. It doesn’t get to the real issues. Perhaps it simply reflects one of the bigger issues.

In the Hartford Courant article about Gallo, former state GOP Chairman Chris Healy, talking about direct mail firm simply states, “we got a better deal”. A cynic might ask what that deal was. Was there any sort of illegal quid quo pro in the better deal? But this, too, perhaps doesn’t get to the real issue.

I often quote Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture in my blog, and I’ll provide a more complete version of one of my favorite quotes here:

OK, and so one of the expressions I learned at Electronic Arts, which I love, which pertains to this, is experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And I think that’s absolutely lovely. And the other thing about football is we send our kids out to play football or soccer or swimming or whatever it is, and it’s the first example of what I’m going to call a head fake, or indirect learning. We actually don’t want our kids to learn football. I mean, yeah, it’s really nice that
I have a wonderful three-point stance and that I know how to do a chop block and all this kind of stuff. But we send our kids out to learn much more important things. Teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, etcetera, etcetera. And these kinds of head fake learning are absolutely important.
And you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.

What candidates want is to get elected, but most of them don’t get elected, they just get experience. This experience might help them get elected the next time around. It might turn them bitter against the system, or it might inspire something greater.

Why do we want to get elected? Hopefully, it is to make their communities better places, and this gets back to the quote from Chris Healy. What is that ‘better deal’ he spoke about?

On my campaign, we often spoke about who we would purchase our services from. We wanted to make our community a better place, and we argued whether it was better to get services from companies in the district, or if it made more sense to use less expensive companies in other parts of Connecticut. It was a difficult balance, and I don’t know how well we really did on it, but at least we didn’t spend most of our budget, a large amount of which came from a Connecticut state grant, with companies in Florida.

We also had people offer us great deals because they were friends that believed in our campaign. We sought to make sure that everyone was paid fairly for the work they did and that there was no expectation of quid quo pro, real or perceived.

Yet most importantly, the focus was on issues. I wanted to talk about health and education. I did. I wished I could have gotten into more discussions about these issues. I wish people would engage more on the issues our state faces instead of making decisions based on a few pieces of mail crafted by political consultants in Florida. I wish more political coverage in the traditional media could be about the issues, and not the horse race and the corruption.

Hopefully, I moved the needle a little bit in that direction. No, I didn’t get elected, but I got “the better deal”.

Closing Statement

During these final hours of the 2012 campaign, let me bring focus on what I believe is most important in this race. I started my campaign with a different sort of message. It wasn't about one hot button issue or another, but about the underlying issues. My goal has been to get people more connected with their communities and their government. This is something that is not done over five months, and then left. It is an ongoing project. So, I hope everyone will get out and vote on Tuesday, and then, find ways to become more involved in their local communities, whether it be attending regular town halls with your state legislators, joining local boards and commissions, getting active in the local parent teacher organizations, becoming more involved in your places of worship, joining various civic organizations, or starting something new.

As part of the 2013 CT Health Foundation's Health Leadership Fellows Program, we did an assessment about our leadership styles. Every person have different styles, and each style has its importance. My style is of an 'observer'. I gather as much information as I can to think out the best solutions to problems that we face. Over the past several months, I've received lots of feedback from many of you about the issues we face, how to address them, and how to run my campaign.

Some have said that I should bring up things from my opponent's past or talk more about organizations she is part of that don't have the best interest of Connecticut in mind. When pushed, I've talked a little bit about this, but that isn't the sort of campaign I wanted to run. It didn't serve the goal of getting people more involved in their communities, and would more likely turn people off from politics.

Others have urged me to challenge my opponent on every issue, to make clear every difference. Yet I've spoken about places where my opponent and I agree. None of us want to pay higher taxes. All of us want better schools for our children.

Yet there is an important underlying issue to how we address all of these concerns. My opponent often says that the more government does, the less it does well. I would suggest that this is the key issue. From my years in business, I've come to recognize that it is not the size of an organization that determines its success. It doesn't matter whether the organization is a non-profit, a business, a school, or the government. What matters is that the organization stays on mission.

There are times when government gets off mission, when it becomes burdensome or wasteful. This can happen with small government or large government. There are times when government fails to complete its mission.

Then, there are times when we come together as part of a government by, of and for the people. There are times when government does "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity". We've seen a little of this over the past week as we've dealt with Hurricane Sandy, including calls for government interventions in businesses, like the utility companies.

No, the more government does, focusing on its mission as outlined in the Constitution, the more it does well. That is the fundamental difference. I want to be your State Representative in Hartford, making sure that the government does what it should be doing as well as possible, and not offering platitudes about smaller government.

Please, join with me in renewing our social contract, our commitment to our families, friends and neighbors in our great state of Connecticut and our great country.

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Addressing Underserved E-Patients

There is a quote, I'm trying to find, something about all the undiscovered Einstein's, people with the intellectual capabilities of Einstein, living lives as sharecroppers; their mental prowess undiscovered. It came to me over the past couple days at the Health Care Social Media Summit.

I have met some incredible people at the summit, both this year and last. I think of e-Patient Dave and Liver Lindsey, people who have been able to use their skills to live empowered lives in the face of cancer. The e-Patient movement is bringing important changes to health care, as patients take a more engaged role in their own health. They speak well to the folks from the hospitals and health systems that send staff to conferences like this.

I come from a different sort of health care system. I work for a Federally Qualified Health Center. Most of our patients are uninsured or are on Medicaid. They live their lives below 200% of the Federal Poverty level. Their struggles are not overcoming some rare disease, but simply living day to day, being able to get healthy food, exercise, and the health care they need. They don't have computers at home or the skills and reading ability to be the sort of e-Patients we hear about at conferences like this.

Our health center talks a lot about health care being a right, not a privilege, but it seems like the e-Patient movement is for those with decent educations and good access to the Internet. What about our patient population? Will they be left behind? Will the e-Patient movement increase the health disparities in our country? What can we do to prevent a widening health care rift and bring the e-Patient movement to all Americans?

On Tuesday, I met a doctor giving voice to this concern at this conference. Dr. Ivor Horn spoke about how many underserved patients are on social media. They have different usage patterns. They're on Twitter using smartphones and we need to find ways to serve them. There are probably other usage patterns we need to understand as well.

I suspect that e-Patient Dave or Liver Lindsey would be just as compelling and compassionate to the underprivileged as they have shown themselves to be to attendees of this conference, so I have my fantasy panel: e-Patient Dave, Liver Lindsey, Dr. Ivor Horn, and Junaid's Mom talking about helping underserved e-patients. For those who aren't regular readers of my blog, Junaid died this summer of Neuroblastoma. His mother, brought up in poverty, a former drug addict who has been clean for several years now, and the victim of domestic violence, is a powerful woman, an e-Patient amongst the underserved.

How do we address the needs of underserved potential e-patients? It's a discussion that it is time to have.

Postscript: After writing this, I noticed that it is Alejandra Ospina's birthday. Alejandra is the Community Liaison at GimpGirl Community and a powerful spokesperson for people with disabilities. She would be another great member of my fantasy panel.

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What is Leadership?

Last Weekend, I attended the Connecticut Health Foundations, Health Leadership Fellows Program Fall Retreat. I have been chosen to be a member of the class of 2013. One of the speakers started off by talking about a dinner she had with a former presidential candidate from Lebanon. He had suggested that leadership isn't important.

It made me think of the old saying, "Are you a leader? Are you a follower? Are those the only two choices?" My leadership in health issues was recognized by my selection into the program, but I tend not to think a lot about leadership. I'm just doing my job.

I'm also running for State Representative. Last week, my opponent ran an ad that starts, "Common Sense Leadership". Her current role in the legislature includes the title Deputy Republican Leader.

What is leadership? Is it a title or campaign slogan? Is it something we are born with? Is it a skill we need to develop? Does it even matter at all?

The retreat focused on building leadership skills, and perhaps that is what matters most. Do you have the skills necessary to get a group of people to work together to improve a community? Are you using these skills? How are you honing these skills in yourself?

For the next several months, this is what I'll be working on as part of the Connecticut Health Foundations, Health Leadership Fellows Class of 2013. I hope the coming events are as thought provoking as the fall retreat has been.

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Random Campaign Notes

It has been a very busy 24 hours with no slowdown in sight. Yesterday, I toured the Air Handling Systems shop in Woodbridge and had a great discussion with the owner, Jamie Scott, and a representative from CBIA. My opponent has been endorsed by CBIA, and in the last session voter with them 100%. In terms of winning votes, this might not have been the best use of my time. However, it is important for me to hear all sides of the issues, and Jamie is a great spokesperson on behalf of manufacturing in Connecticut. He's also very tied to the community, which is another issue that is important to me.

My opponent has also been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which also reports that she has a perfect voting record on their issues. In her advertisement in the Woodbridge Town News, she describes herself as a small business owner, but she's a lawyer who's been in the legislature for 14 years, so I'm not sure what small business she's talking about.

I've been working for businesses and non-profits for most of my career. I'm unlikely to have a 100% voting record from anyone because I expect to struggle with each issue instead of just toeing the party line. However, I'm not afraid to post information about myself. A friend who saw my opponents ad noted that it didn't mention that she's the seven term incumbent, or that she is a Republican. My ad explicitly states that I'm the Democratic party candidate.

After my tour of Air Handling Systems, I went out to lunch with my campaign manager to discuss strategy for the final weeks of the campaign. While we were there, members of the Red Hat Society showed up for lunch. I took a few moments to speak with them, to share my latest palm card with them, and to pause for a picture. I hope to have pictures of both events up on my campaign website soon.

I am now off to the CT Heath Leadership Fellows Retreat. I look forward to the things I'll be learning at the retreat and I believe it will make me an even stronger candidate, especially on health policy issues. I'll be unavailable to campaign much of this weekend, but hopefully will get a little time here and there. I hope some of my supporters will also get time to campaign for me. Not only have my new palm cards come in, but my lawn signs are in as well and I hope friends will start putting up the signs this weekend.

Meanwhile, things remain very busy at work, so I've been up early to make sure as much is handled there as possible.

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