I am a lifelong Democrat and an ardent conservationist. Every two years, I walk into my Town hall to vote for my state Senator and without hesitation pull the lever for Andrew Roraback. My community has nearly twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats and Andrew happens to be a Republican. The fact remains that party affiliation in this case is easily trumped by personal integrity, legislative effectiveness, and visionary commitment to conservation and protecting open space. There has been no better candidate for State Senator representing the 30th District of Connecticut on the ballot in the time he has run for office than Andrew Roraback and I anticipate none better, from either party, in the next election cycle.
I am not a single issue voter, but it helps that Senator Roraback is concerned about issues that should transcend party politics, including conservation of our rapidly diminishing open space, but often do not. Last night, I attended a meeting in Litchfield along with over 100 concerned citizens to discuss new and more effective ways to combat rural sprawl and maintain the rural character of the Litchfield Hills. Senator Roraback told the gathering that he believes so strongly that the citizens of his district want to preserve open space that he has introduced Senate Bill 647 that would raise the state sales tax by 1/4 of 1%, from 6% to 6.25%, to finance more of it. This bold move would create $120,000,000 for open space preservation. In contrast, the State of Connecticut has about $10,000,000 set aside in this budget cycle for all of its state land protection efforts.
One of the audience members suggested a straw poll then and there to test whether there was public support for such a bold move. The audience was predisposed toward conserving open space but included members of Town finance committees and others with concerns about the fiscal impact of protecting open space on local budgets. There was unanimous support in the room for this bill.
Conventional wisdom says a Republican who raises taxes is committing political suicide. In a blue state with a Republican governor but a Senate controlled by Democrats, Senator Roraback's conscience and recognition that conservation is not a 2nd tier issue but a statewide priority makes him one of the most effective and admirable people in State government. He has never missed a senate vote, nor did he miss one by the legislature when he was a representative, in his 11 years of service. This record is without parallel in Connecticut politics.
He is a staunch supporter of invasive species prevention and control, an advocate for working farms and forests, and makes himself available to his constituents. He cares about people and the environment that sustains our communities. Andrew is a pro-choice Republican. His aunt and my neighbor in Canaan, Catherine Roraback, was one of the key lawyers who successfully argued the landmark Griswold vs. Connecticut case before the US supreme court in 1965 that made contraception widely available and reenforced the right to privacy under the Constitution. Andrew also has tremendous support from sportsman's organizations and the NRA. Both business and labor groups rate him favorably on a majority of the issues most important to their consituents.
In a climate where the abuse of eminent domain threatens property rights advocates on both sides of the aisle, Senator Roraback opined last night that in his belief, the condemnation of land to preserve open space- paid for at full, fair market value- is an appropriate use of municipal authority. It is a brave and highly commendable thing for any legislator to say, let alone a Republican. Senator Roraback deserves bipartisan support for his efforts and I commend his example to politicians of both parties. True leadership inspires confidence regardless of political persuasion, and Andrew Roraback has my personal, unqualified and unsolicited support.