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Op-Ed -- In Connecticut: We Must Become the Change We Want to See

Op-Ed -- In Connecticut: We Must Become the Change We Want to See

By Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director

Mahatma Gandhi once imparted upon us these words of wisdom, “We Must Become the Change We Want to See.”

Following the January 14th announcement that one of Connecticut’s most prized corporate headquarters was leaving the prom for another date, the analysis of the events leading up to the departure has been all consuming.

While it is important to give an honest and thorough review to both GE’s exodus as well as other factors that are challenging Connecticut’s overall economic landscape, the time for finger pointing has passed.

It is often during challenging times that good leaders emerge. They come from a variety of places including schools, churches, town halls, the state house and any other place where the best in human traits rises above the negativity and personal agendas that can exist within all of us. Our great state needs this to be one of those times.

This past November the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) joined with business, labor, education, social services and others to host a two day economic and community development summit. While some attention has been paid to the recommendations coming out of the summit, I believe not enough attention has been paid to the fact that these incredibly diverse interests collectively showed that we can work together for the betterment of all. This type of collaboration may not garner headlines the same as fancy sound bites or vial mudslinging. However, it is the most productive way to build a positive path forward.

Move forward working together back to top

For my part I will highlight that back in July 2015 while speaking at CCM’s annual meeting I addressed issues our organization had with the then recently completed 2015 session of the General Assembly. While my remarks were intended to address concerns with policy development, they were perceived to be personal in nature by some, resulting in an unproductive air of disdain. Since that time I have met with many state leaders who have been eager to turn the page and move forward working together. When the politics of public policy is set aside, we learn that focusing more on the things that unite us than the areas that divide us allows for a more productive environment in our collective desire to improve the quality of life across the many diverse communities we serve.

For Connecticut to experience the complete economic recovery that we all desire, our leaders must emerge in a cooperative spirit that places the focus on what we can do, instead of what we feel others have done wrong.

This does not mean that the collective electorate doesn’t have the right to judge, critique or even shout out with feverish rage. In fact, I would suggest that it is often this type of engagement from a rightfully concerned and equally informed electorate that drives real and lasting change.

However, those who have sought the privilege to be entrusted to guide our state forward must realize that their responsibilities now trump their right to foster negative discord. As the leader of an association that represents local governments who serve over 96% of Connecticut residents, I vow to keep CCM’s focus on the many opportunities that lie ahead.

The upcoming 2016 session of the General Assembly provides a unique opportunity for us to collectively and collaboratively become the change we want to see. To focus more on the next generation than the November election.

Not only is this the right approach, but frankly Connecticut does not have the luxury to proceed in any other fashion. The time for Statesmanship has arrived.