Q&A: Christine Cohen

With incumbent State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. announcing that he would not seek a third term, we invited candidates for the 12th District, which includes Branford, Guilford, Madison, Killingworth, North Branford and Durham, to participate in Q&A.  We are very pleased that candidate Christine Cohen has agreed to take part.  Her challenger Adam Greenberg has not responded to our query.

A Brief Biography

As a small business owner, Christine is running to improve Connecticut’s economy and fight for our values in Hartford. Wanting to serve her community, she has held seats on several boards including the PTO before being elected to the Guilford Board of Education where she currently serves.

Christine is known for common sense solutions that go beyond party lines and believes we need more collaboration in Hartford. Before stating Cohen’s Bagel Company, she worked for Stanley Black & Decker. Understanding the needs of Connecticut businesses, Christine is committed to ensuring their growth and expansion. She and her husband Rob live with their three children and adorable rescue dog.

If you are interested in learning more about Christine Cohen, click here.

Question: How well prepared are the coastal communities of your district – Guilford and Madison – for possible impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, and increased storm activity? As State Senator how will you help local residents meet these challenges?Ch

Christine Cohen

The coastal communities here have done a wonderful job of creating Coastal Resilience Plans, in fact, as a Guilford resident, I’m aware that much work has been done to shore up roadways and assist residents that might be directly impacted should a meaningful storm create potential disaster. The towns would like to do more, but funding is an issue and needs to become a priority at the State and Federal levels. First we need to acknowledge that climate change is real. Connecticut must prepare for the imputes of climate change. In order for Connecticut to thrive in the future we must plan for our environment now. The State of Connecticut can facilitate and coordinate efforts to increase the state’s resiliency to climate change. Connecticut can protect residents like those in Madison, Guilford and Branford through conservation efforts, investing in living shorelines, hardening shoreline infrastructure, improving building regulations and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Question: Do you support streamlining state permitting and environmental reviews to ease investments in infrastructure and transportation projects in Connecticut? Briefly, what are the key obstacles to improving Connecticut’s transportation and energy infrastructure?

Christine Cohen

I support streamlining government in any way we can. Permitting and environmental reviews should aim to make sure infrastructure and transportation projects are done the right, not create unnecessary slowdowns. But we should never sacrifice speed at the expense of our environment.

One key obstacles to improving Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is funding. With our transportation system failing in so many ways, we need to find new revenues to better our current transportation infrastructure and build more options for mass transit. At the same time, we on the shoreline also have limited options for building our this infrastructure because of our historic communities and natural resources must be protected. Improving our energy infrastructure faces similar obstacles as our coastal towns have limited space for building out these projects.

Question: Local government and services are divided in Connecticut between 169 cities and towns. What do you see as the key opportunities and concerns for regionalization over the coming decade?

Christine Cohen

One of my key concerns about regionalization is the top down approach Hartford often takes. Towns can and do regionalize in many ways already. But state mandates on regionalization are too often misguided and create inefficiencies instead of cutting costs. That being said, I do think that there are many opportunities to be had and there are terrific examples of that right her in the 12th district. The East Shore Health Department is one such example. We should look to models that are working well and use them as our guide for opportunity and efficiency gains, but certainly not at the expense of the communities in which we live.

Question: Do you support the development of a State Water Plan for Connecticut, and should this plan formally designate water resources as a “public trust”?

Christine Cohen

I believe that Connecticut’s water should be treated as a public trust and there is indeed a ‘public trust’ in the air, water and other natural resources of Connecticut that must be protected, preserved and enhanced. I support the development of the State Water Plan for Connecticut to ensure that there is enough water for all to use in perpetuity.

Question: To quote the former Speaker of the House of the United States, “All politics is local.” But as State Senator you would be representing a very diverse set of communities: the towns of Branford, North Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, and Madison. Can you highlight a few specific opportunities or concerns for one or more of these communities which you would help address as State Senator?

Christine Cohen

As a member of the Guilford Board of Education, I’ve seen first hand what can happen to education budgets as a result of potential cuts to grants and funding. Education Cost Share grant dollars have been in jeopardy year over year, but in recent times we’ve seen some of the largest reversals of funding. We must continue to provide education aid to towns, and avoid disruptive and damaging budget slashes that would harm students and teachers alike. Ultimately, everyone suffers if education funding diminishes. School programs, classes and teachers are cut, enrollment begins to decline as folks seek out better opportunity, property values decrease and society suffers. We know that funding our schools means long-term health and stability for our State’s economy and I will ensure education is a priority for our communities up in Hartford.