Hoping to follow in the footsteps of his well-known father, Christopher Wright declared this week that he plans to seek election to northeast Bristol’s 77th state House district.
Wright, 35, said he wants to represent the area in Hartford so he can “fight for cleaner air and cleaner water, better schools and better healthcare for all our citizens so that we can continue the promise made by those who came before us to leave our children a state better, stronger, cleaner and healthier than the one we live in today.”
Wright, one of former state Sen. Gardner Wright’s children, is eyeing the seat currently held by state Rep. Ron Burns, a first-term Republican who snatched the district from Democratic hands two years ago.
Burns, who knocked out longtime incumbent Roger Michele, has not said whether he’ll seek re-election in the heavily Democratic district.
It is unclear whether any other Democrats may vie for the right to seek Burns’ seat. At this point, Wright said, he doesn’t know of any other contenders.
Wright said he’s jumping into the race because he’s concerned that government is doing too little to balance its books, protect the environment and ensure affordable, quality healthcare for everyone.
He said Republicans have failed ordinary Americans because the GOP has “cut tax rates for only the very wealthiest in our society, ballooned our public debt to levels that not even Ronald Reagan or the first George Bush could not have imagined and have left working Americans with incomes that are, at best, stagnant and in all too many cases shrinking when compared to the rate of inflation.”
Wright said the state needs to preserve “the last remaining remnants of open space” that it has. “We lecture other countries about the destruction of their forests, yet we plow over ours to build bigger and bigger McMansions,” he said. “What kind a legacy is this leaving for our children?”
He called for environmental policies “which encourage the reclamation and reuse of brownfields instead of the destruction of green fields” as well as policies fuel efficient vehicles, cleaner emissions and sustainable economic growth.
Wright said healthcare needs more attention, too.
“The fact that 10 percent of the population in the state which calls itself the insurance capital of the world goes without health insurance in unacceptable,” he said.
Gardner Wright, who serves as one of the city’s downtown commissioners, is a former city councilor, state House member, congressional candidate, city Democratic leader and chairman of the state Commission on Hospitals and Health Care. He represented the 77th District in the 1970s and early 1980s, until he gave up the seat in an unsuccessful bid to win an open congressional slot.
“One thing my father told me was ‘Son, all you have in life is your name, so never do anything to harm it,’” Christopher Wright said.
“Of course, he also once told me ‘Son, don’t be humble, you’re not that great,’” the son added.
“It must be that which gives me the gumption to stand in front” of the town committee to “tell you why you should help elect me Bristol’s next state representative,” Wright said.
Wright grew up in the district, attending Mountain View, Ivy Drive and Northeast Middle schools before graduating from St. Paul Catholic High School. He earned a degree in economics from Central Connecticut State University in 1991.
After college, he earned a paralegal certificate and attended a seminary for a time before putting in eight years with the Federal Deposit Insurance Company. He currently works in registration for St. Francis Hospital.
Speech given Monday night by Christopher Wright, a Democrat who announced his intention to seek election to the 77th House seat currently held by state Rep. Ron Burns, a Bristol Republican:
Good Evening. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Christopher Wright and I am standing before you today to announce my candidacy for State Representative from the 77th district. As many of you know, I have a long personal history with the 77th. Growing up, I attended Mountain View, Ivy Drive and Northeast before graduating from St. Paul. In 1991 I graduated from Central Connecticut with a degree in Economics and later earned a certificate in paralegal studies from Hartford College for Women and attended seminary for a time. For eight years I worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, helping to clean up the havoc reaped on our banks and savings and loans by the Reaganomics of the 1980’s. Currently, I work in registration at St Francis Hospital, and I see firsthand the struggles people in Connecticut have finding affordable health insurance for themselves and for their children.
I come from a very working class background. All four of my grandparents worked in factories around town; New Departure, Ingram’s, Bristol Brass and GE. A union man, my grandfather Wright would go out on strike three times, something which my grandmother was never happy about. But they understood the importance of fighting for working families, a philosophy which I intended to bring with me to Hartford. My parents both grew up in town, my father on Davis Drive and Union Street and my mother in a house on Tulip Street which her family owned for forty five years. They were each the first members of their families to attend college and instilled a belief in the importance of education and a strong work ethic into their children. One thing my father told me was “Son, all you have in life is your name, so never do anything to harm it.” Of course, he also once told me “son, don’t be humble, you’re not that great.” It must be that which gives me the gumption to stand in front of you and tell you why you should help elect me Bristol’s next State Representative.
I seek this office for one reason, because I am concerned with the world that we are leaving for our children. I look at our economy and I am concerned. After a period of economic growth in the 90’s which saw the incomes of most average Americans rise at the same time our federal debt was being paid down, we have since 2001 seen a Republican administration and Republican Congress pursue economic policies which have cut tax rates for only the very wealthiest in our society, ballooned our public debt to levels that not even Ronald Reagan or the first George Bush could not have imagined and have left working Americans with incomes that are, at best, stagnant and in all too many cases shrinking when compared to the rate of inflation. The results of these borrow and spend policies of the Republicans are all too clear; rising levels of credit card debt and home foreclosures, an American dollar which is now worth less than the Canadian dollar and an overwhelming national debt that our children’s children will be paying off. And what is the Republican’s response to this crisis? The same old tired cry of Ronald Reagan, that we need to cut the taxes of the richest Americans even more and hope that somehow, someway, some of that wealth will trickle down to the rest of us. Well, my friends, I don’t need to tell you that the only “benefits” that have been coming our way are lower wages, more debt and fewer well-paying jobs. But this hasn’t been a trickle, it’s been a downpour.
What we need to do is to follow the example of President Clinton and the Democrats who, in 1993, set fiscal and tax policies that lowered tax rates for most Americans yet still managed to bring in more money and allowed the government, in the years that followed, to balance the budget and even begin to pay down on the national debt, while at the same time providing our country with an unprecedented eight straight years of economic growth. We need to recognize that economies grow from the ground up and pursue fiscal policies that benefit the vast majority of Americans who happen not to be wealthy and we need to stop being the state with the highest per capita debt in the nation. There is a not-so-old saying that states “We used to do things for posterity. Now we do things for ourselves and bill posterity.” I ask you, what kind of a legacy are we leaving for our children?
With an eye to the future, I look at our environment and I am concerned. Connecticut is a small state with limited land and I believe that we need to be asking ourselves “How do we protect the last remaining remnants of open space that we have?” The naturalist John Muir once wrote “The forests of America, however slighted by man, must have been a great delight to God, for they were the best ever planted.” What has become of those forests? We lecture other countries about the destruction of their forests, yet we plow over ours to build bigger and bigger McMansions. What kind a legacy is this leaving for our children? Do we really want future generations growing up in a state without forests or meadows and almost devoid of wildlife? What we need to do is start living by the Native American belief that we do not inherit the land from our parents but borrow it from our children. We need to pursue policies which encourage the reclamation and reuse of brown fields instead of the destruction of green fields. We need to institute tax policies that promote the use of the most fuel efficient vehicles by the public and by the state. We need to accelerate the replacement of greenhouse gas emitting energy plants with cleaner technologies. We need to encourage economic growth in our state that is both sustainable and beneficial to all of our citizens. It is only by instituting these policies now that we can provide our children with a world that is, we hope, cleaner than the one we have today.
I look at my nephews, and I am concerned about the state of our educational system. The boys, who have received most of their schooling during the “no child left behind” era, complain about all the time they spend preparing for tests. In today’s fast-paced computer-driven world, we need an educational system that emphasizes quick thinking and nimble mindedness over rote memorization. We need to make sure that our teachers are provided with the materials and support that they require to bring our children up to their full potential because have no doubt; without a highly educated population America’s position as the world’s greatest superpower will be in jeopardy. Is a legacy of crushing debt, a Grand Canyon like chasm between the rich and the rest of society and a public school system that struggles to educate its charges really what we want to leave to future generations? America is about equality and opportunity; about all of its citizens being given an equal chance to succeed or fail based on their own skills and their own merit. That process begins in the public schools.
My last, though certainly not least, concern that I want to bring before you tonight is healthcare. That fact that ten percent of the population in the state which calls itself the insurance capitol of the world goes without health insurance in unacceptable. I see these people every day when they come into the emergency room with complaints that should be taken care of in a doctor’s office. But since these people have no insurance, they have no access to a private physician and they wind up in the ER, often waiting hours on end to see a doctor. Many of these people are the working poor, people with full time or several part time jobs. The problem they face is that fewer and fewer employers today provide healthcare benefits and those that do charge their employees ever increasing premiums and copays. And the workers who receive no benefits are not eligible for state assistance because they doing what they are suppose to be doing and going out and earning a living. In fact, the gulf between the insured and the uninsured is growing so wide that a patient I was recently registering told me of a trip she made to an emergency room in another state where the two groups were actually placed in separate waiting rooms. Is this really the legacy that we want to leave to our children? It is time for us to take a stand and insist that access to affordable health care is something that all Americans should have, regardless of income or occupation. And the best part is that this should bring about a reduction in healthcare costs because people who receive regular medical care are less likely to develop serious, costly illnesses; costs which today hospitals are forced to transfer to patients who are insured just so that they can keep their doors open.
My friends, we can do better. Send me to Hartford and I promise that I will do all in my power to work for the betterment of everyone in our city and in our state. I will fight for cleaner air and cleaner water, better schools and better healthcare for all our citizens so that we can continue the promise made by those who came before us; to leave our children a state better, stronger, cleaner and healthier than the one we live in today. Thank you.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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