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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2004, my wife ran for State Representative as the Democratic candidate in a district that has consistently voted Republican for a century. Afterwards, people would ask if she won, and I'd always reply, yes, she won. She didn't get elected, but she won. I would then go on to outline the many ways her campaign helped the community we were living in at the time.
Now, I am running for State Representative against a seven term incumbent. Some people believe I have little chance of winning, but I've already been wracking up a great collection of victories as I talk to voters in the district and encourage them to become more involved in their community and become better connected to their government.
Last night, I scored another great victory in this area. Last night, I attended the Connecticut Community Providers Association's candidate forum. I went mostly to hear what members of the association had to say, as well as to get more practice at speaking in candidate forums.
I sat with four other candidates, all of them either current or former state legislators. They, and the audience, were bright, and passionate about the issues that face our state, particularly in terms of addressing the needs of underserved populations in our state. I walked away with a few business cards. These were not people who will be able to vote for me next month. Instead, they were people that I look forward to staying in touch with and working with, whether or not I get elected.
It is customary for all candidates to declare victory after a debate or forum, and in some senses, this is no different. Yet I'm counting on this victory being of a more lasting kind.
Now, I just have to keep contacting voters, talking about the issues, and waiting to see if these victories will also add up to me being elected which I hope will end up being a victory for everyone that cares about this state.