BF Democrats back Conroy’s reelection bid
SEYMOUR — First-term state Rep. Theresa Conroy announced Monday she will seek reelection to her 105th District seat, saying she is even more eager to represent the Naugatuck Valley today than she was two years ago. The district covers Seymour, Beacon Falls and part of Ansonia.
Conroy, 52, made the announcement before a small gathering of the Seymour Democratic Town Committee at Seymour Town Hall.
A day later, she said she has made progress during her first term on the fronts of economic development and healthcare, two of her stated priorities, but added she has more work to do.
“Now that I’m in [office], I’m finding even more that I want to run again because there’s just so many opportunities out there that we haven’t been able to touch,” Conroy said.
The retired nurse practitioner likely won’t face a challenge within her own party; she has the backing of Democratic leaders in all three district towns.
“We are absolutely supporting Theresa,” Beacon Falls DTC Chairwoman Kathy Grace said. “She’s been the best thing that’s happened to us in many, many years because she’s always there. She comes to our town committee meetings, she stops in at our library to see how they’re doing, anything they need. She’s always stopping into our first selectman’s office. She’s all over.”
Grace hopes Conroy’s consistent presence in Beacon Falls will help her win the town this November. Though she garnered 58 percent of the district-wide vote in 2008, Conroy narrowly lost Beacon Falls to Republican Brian Koskelowski, 1,395-1,391.
Koskelowski, 45, told Citizen’s News Tuesday he has mulled another run but will probably defer to another Republican candidate, whom he said “would give Theresa a better run for her money.” The former Seymour Republican Town Committee chairman declined to name that candidate but did criticize Conroy’s first term.
“Theresa, honestly, has not done anything for the valley,” Koskelowski said. “She didn’t live up to any of her promises she made during her campaign.”
Conroy acknowledged “when [she] started out in this role, [she] didn’t know what exactly [she] was getting into” and that she would take a more modest healthcare agenda to Hartford if reelected. She said she has learned the pace of government is slower than she would like.
“Even though we want things to happen today, it’s a process to get things moving,” Conroy said.
One example is the proposed connecting road between Route 42 in Beacon Falls and Route 67 in Seymour. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) first earmarked $750,000 worth of federal funds to study the feasibility of such a project in 2000. The New London-based firm McFarland and Johnson began the study in 2007 but has not completed it, nor have the towns secured any of the $10 million needed to construct the connector.
Still, Conroy said she believes both towns support the new road and that it would be an economic boon to the region. Part of the vision of the connector is the development of a 200-acre parcel along the road, which could become the site of a strip mall, industrial park or mixed-use development.
Though most of the plot is in Conroy’s native Seymour, she said her hometown would not be the exclusive beneficiary of its development.
“Anything that’s happening in Seymour, Beacon Falls is also going to benefit from,” Conroy said. “… When I was doing my door-knocking and campaigning, one of the big issues for voters in Beacon Falls was there was no place to go shopping locally. So even though we’re separate towns, it’s a region. The two of them are so interconnected; if there’s not space in Beacon Falls for this, [people are] going to be coming over to Seymour.”
Conroy is a former nurse manager in the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System. She holds a master’s degree in nursing from Fairfield University. Because of that background—and the mere fact that she is a Democrat—Conroy knows some of the GOP’s criticisms of the new federal healthcare legislation may be lobbed her way during the campaign, even though she did not shape that law.
On Tuesday, she provided a diplomatic assessment of the legislation.
“It’s not a perfect bill,” she said. “… Just in my role [in the General Assembly] I learned there’s a lot of give and take and a lot of compromise that comes out. Was it bipartisan? By no means was it. That’s unfortunate. I wish everyone could have came to the table more on it. I do support the bill that it’s come out as, and I do think that as it evolves and we see the impact, there will be changes to it.”
Grace too is aware that national issues can trickle down to state and local politics, but she dismissed as a “stupid argument” the notion that healthcare reform is socialism, and said she hopes Conroy won’t become a target of such complaints. Rather, she said, voters ought to recognize Conroy’s commitment to local residents.
“She truly has her heart in this and in the people of the district,” Grace said. “She isn’t in it to make a name for herself. She isn’t in it to make a buck. She’s truly doing this because she wants to do this for the people of the valley. And she felt that we needed better representation.”