In an interview, Michelle McCabe, the Democratic candidate for the State Senate 28th District, which includes part of Weston, discusses topics of current interest and the priorities she would have if elected.
The full video of the interview, above, runs 20 minutes. Here is our report:
Ms. McCabe favors separating the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to give PURA "independence and teeth" to ensure competition and "a level playing field in our utility markets."
She said she is particularly passionate about the environment and clean energy. She wants to make Connecticut "the number one place for carbon-neutral living and operating businesses," and is very interested in exploring micro grids, battery storage, and other renewable energy sources.
Ms. McCabe is the director of the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development, where, she says, using food waste is part of the organization's programs.
Ms. McCabe says "diversity in housing stock" is something she hears a lot about from constituents in the 28th district. She says she hears about it from people who are anxious about their children being able to afford living in Connecticut, firefighters and teachers who want to be able to live in the communities they serve, and retirees who are "looking to downsize."
She says one overlooked approach to affordable housing is to explore ways to reduce the cost of construction by using alternative materials. She says "we've put ourselves in a box" by only thinking about the topic in terms of density, and believes the state could capitalize on its pool of architects to create innovative designs.
"There needs to be a balance between an approach the State can support and local input," said Ms. McCabe.
She regrets that the topic has become politicized, since it is one "most people are really in favor of." She connects energy policies and housing policies, envisioning parts of communities where homes are both affordable and low-carbon.
"We need to be creative and innovative in just about everything," she said.
"We are living through some unprecedented times," said Ms. McCabe, "but also a reckoning with equity in our society." She said the themes of her priorities center on resiliency, sustainability, and equity.
These values, she said, should be at the core of all legislation, as they are "values we need to embrace fully" to thrive.
As a legislator, Ms. McCabe said she would work to strengthen Connecticut's economy for both business and the workforce, address the state's fiscal solvency, and ensure that "residents are resilient, especially in terms of a dramatic increase in mental health care access."
To stabilize Connecticut's financial position, Ms. McCabe hopes an idea will be revived that would monetize State-owned facilities to reduce pension liabilities.
She also connects this issue to energy policy, saying she "would love to see us taking some of our state buildings" and retrofitting them as eco-friendly structures that could be rented out to environmentally-conscious companies.
She supports legalizing recreational marijuana, seeing advantages both in terms of tax revenues and regulatory measures that would address health and safety concerns.
Ms. McCabe is very enthusiastic about the concept of ocean farming, saying that Connecticut's natural supply of seaweed could produce a "cash crop." She said the result could be dividends that resemble those Alaska receives in oil-related revenues.
Asked about conducting a political campaign in this year's unusual circumstances, Ms. McCabe said "national divisiveness is more impactful than the way we're voting."
"I've had so many incredible conversations with voters," she said, particularly with people who are concerned about their own future and the outlook for their children.
"I hope these conversations are empowering for voters to see that they really do hold the reins in terms of where we're going to end up as a state."
"I do think people are taking that responsibility very seriously," she said.