WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport resident Jonathan Steinberg was elected to his first term as the state representative from Westport’s 136th District two years ago. This November, the Democrat hopes to win his second term as he faces challenger Stephen Rubin, a Westport Republican.
Steinberg, a 1974 graduate of Staples High School, has called Westport home for about 30 years. He moved to town with his parents when he was 3, and after high school, moved to New York City. In 1996, he moved back to town with his wife of 22 years, Nancy.
Previously, he was a seven-year member of the Representative Town Meeting, the town’s legislative body, where he served as deputy moderator. He also served on a few town committees.
Steinberg remains active in the Westport community, particularly with the Westport Cinema Initiative, a nonprofit he co-founded that’s working to bring a cinema back to town. In his spare time, he enjoys being with his wife and three daughters.
The Westport Daily Voice sent five questions to each of the candidates running for statewide office this fall. The following are Steinberg’s responses.
1.) What are the biggest issues facing your district?
Although many Westporters may have weathered the recession better than others across the state, jobs and the economy remain the No. 1 issue. It will still be the central focus of the legislature next session. Fairfield County legislators are also focused on transportation infrastructure. Our roads, bridges and rail lines are deteriorating, and we’ve pulled together in a bipartisan manner to fight for our fair share of state transportation funding. There’s still more to be done.
2.) What were your biggest achievements in office?
Westport is rarely the recipient of state largess. As a freshman legislator, I worked hard to obtain $500,000 for the Levitt Pavilion renovation, funding we’ve sought for several years, and $300,000 to repair the leaky roof at the Saugatuck Co-op Apartments, which is affordable senior housing.
I’m also proud of my role in shaping language in the landmark energy bill, which resulted in the Lead by Example program, which has already begun to save the state millions of dollars annually by reducing energy usage in state and municipal buildings. Energy conservation is a pillar of the state’s strategy to reduce energy costs and our carbon footprint, reducing a key cost of doing business in the state and addressing a major issue for those on fixed incomes.
I’ve also helped Westport secure state funding for two solar energy projects.
3.) Is Connecticut going in the right or wrong direction?
Connecticut has been going in the wrong direction for quite a while. We have one of the highest per capita debts in the nation and our economy was in worse shape going into the recession than many states. The past sessions of the legislature have begun to put us back on the right path. The bipartisan jobs bills brought us innovations like the Small Business Express program, which has already helped four Westport small businesses make critical investments, which will grow jobs in the state.
As a member of the legislature’s Manufacturers Caucus, I participated in a dialogue with Commissioner Catherine Smith of the Department of Economic and Community Development regarding details of the state’s actions to stimulate manufacturing — as required in the jobs bill — including helping businesses work collaboratively with state vocational/technical colleges to assure that graduates have the requisite skills for the precision manufacturing jobs available.
4.) What would you do to involve your constituents in your decision-making process?
I’ve been doing that since I was elected to the legislature. My first mailer to constituents was a survey asking what their top issues and concerns were, which I used to prioritize my efforts. I held town halls in Westport on the budget, storm response and education reform. I take pride in responding to constituent emails and calls as quickly as possible. I attend scores of events and meetings in town every year, more than many Representative Town Meeting members. I also look forward to knocking on doors at this time of year to talk directly with constituents, the best way to stay aware of what’s on their minds.
5.) Why should people vote for you?
Everyone knows how much I love this town and how hard I’ve worked for Westport. I’m known as a legislator who does his homework, asks tough questions and will work with anyone to forge real solutions. And I’m not afraid to contend with leadership on issues like the budget. Westport can depend on my common sense leadership in Hartford, persevering as an agent for change in a place that really needs it.
To learn more about Jonathan Steinberg, visit his campaign website.