State Sen. John Kissel visited Windsor Locks and Somers on Thursday and answered questions about the legislative session, heard concerns, and received kind words from his constituents.
Kissel, R-Enfield, who has served the area in the State Senate for 19 years, spent an hour at the and two hours outside in Somers, speaking with seniors and local constituents.
He believes people should get an opportunity to meet with him, especially those who cannot make it to the Capitol or do not have the time, which prompted him to visit some communities he serves.
“I think it’s important to go into communities, senior centers, and any place I actually can go to make myself available to my constituents,” said Kissel. “I think it’s real important for me to do the outreach, and I think my constituents appreciate that.”
A number of his constituents were concerned about the impact of the 6,000 plus state employee layoffs, most notably they were concerned about unemployment insurance.
Kissel explained the unemployment insurance would be paid by the state because the state is the employer, and it would come to bear on taxpayers in the state.
Other questions and comments in Windsor Locks and Somers focused on taxes. Kissel clarified concerns about the new income tax hikes that only affect families making more than $100,000 a year.
Some people just came out to see what he had to say about the issues in the state.
Mal Hamilton, former Board of Finance and Board of Education chairmen in Windsor Locks, came out to get a feel of what Kissel had to say during his visit and gauge people’s reactions.
“There is a lot of uncertainty, not just here, but on the state level and it is going to get filtered down,” said Hamilton, who referenced former President Ronald Reagan’s remarks about the trickle-down effect of economies. “What has trickled down is all the impact that goes on in the state and federal level gets zeroed in at the town level.”
While the event in Windsor Locks was more formal, featuring a question and answer session with the senator, Somers was a chance for people to speak with the senator, one-on-one, in an informal environment.
“You know what, he’s down with the people,” said Dolores Joslow, a 37-year resident of Somers, who came with her husband Stan to thank Kissel outside Geissler’s. “That’s what all the other people should do.”
The Joslows met Kissel before he was elected as a senator. He gave them legal advice about a property issue, at no charge, when he was working as a lawyer in Enfield over 25 years ago.
Windsor Locks and Somers are just part of what Kissel calls the “Senator on your Sidewalk.” Recently he held an event outside a Shop Rite in Enfield and plans to hold more events in the coming months.
“It’s more important for me to do outreach now,” Kissel said. “It is not an election year for me and people say I only come around during election years, and that’s not true. We are going through a lot of things as a state, the tax increase and layoffs, and there’s concern about our economy, so now is the perfect time to do outreach.”
Kissel noted that all his constituents may not agree with everything he does but that will happen and not to shy away from calling him with their concerns.