by Olivia Bayer and Angela Fortuna
Sean Connolly is hoping to fix Connecticut’s “economic crisis” with his years of non-political experience and a commitment to the state and its people by running for governor.
Connolly visited Central Connecticut State University’s Institute of Technology and Business Development (ITBD) building on Monday, Jan. 22 as part of his “Jobs Tour,” during which he hoped to “meet with job creators, workers, innovators and educators to discuss his plan to grow opportunities across Connecticut,” according to his ITBD visit’s press release.
Connolly was formerly the commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Veteran Affairs and still acts as the Lieutenant Colonel for the Connecticut Army Reserves.
The Democratic candidate from East Hartford is married with two children and currently resides in Hebron, Conn. Connolly’s grandparents immigrated from Ireland before he was born and, since then, his whole family has found opportunity in the state, Connolly said.
“My family history is where my love for the state is deeply rooted in,” he explained in an interview.
Connecticut’s economy is currently Connolly’s center of attention, as the current status of the state’s economy is “falling apart from an economic standpoint,” according to him.
“We have to put the leadership and the laser focus on the problem to solve it,” Connolly stated.
His economic plan entails modernization of economic and community development, making investments in small business through grants, loans and incubators, as well as finding a long-term solution.
Connolly said he aims to improve Connecticut’s economy by directing funding towards the state’s transportation infrastructure. He believes this will provide thousands of jobs and additional safety, as the roads in the state are in “poor mediocre conditions,” in his words.
“We’re in a crisis, but it’s solvable,” Connolly stated.
Connolly hopes to improve education—not with free college tuition for all, but with “loan forgiveness.” Connolly insisted that due to the state’s current economic status, it would not make sense to introduce free college tuition.
He describes his idea of “loan forgiveness” as a way to let graduating college students have the option to get settled into a career before having to pay off their student loans.
Connolly’s goal is to find ways to be more efficient in providing education. His targeted loan forgiveness for education is, according to him, a “good investment for the state” and its students.
Connolly spoke passionately about student achievement and success after graduation; he said he believes college students attending universities and colleges in Connecticut should stay in-state after college, as it would benefit the economy.
“[The students] are the future and we want to make sure [they] find lives and careers here in our state,” Connolly said.
As Connolly is new to politics, he believes he will still make a positive impact as governor of Connecticut. His intentions are not to climb higher in politics, but to “roll up [his] sleeves, jump in the trenches and offer [his] leadership to get things done in Connecticut.”
Connolly stressed “service over politics,” as his motivations are “making cities more vibrant and building a stronger economy where people want to stay, not just for jobs, but for a good quality life.”