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Mary L. Sanders

Running for State Representative

1 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Green Party

CEP Status: nonparticipating

Website: under construction

Age: 65

Marital Status: Divorced

Current Residence: Hartford

Current Job: Semi Retired

Previous Job: 1997-2015 Executive Director Spanish Speaking Center of NB

Previous Job: 1988-1997 Associate Dept Director YWCA NB

Education: Capital Community & CCSU

Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
Years ago I testified in favor of medical marijuana and additionally stated I believed recreational marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed. Personally I believe it causes much less harm than alcohol; practically I support this to get it off the street corners where people seeking marijuana are exposed to and perhaps offered drugs far more potent. There's also the possibility that street sold marijuana has been laced with other drugs. People young and old selling marijuana are at risk of incarceration, introduction to more potent drugs, exposure to violence but opportunities to work and support themselves are limited. Legalizing cannabis could create a whole new industry with jobs maybe some of these young adults could transition to. Not to be minimized is the financial benefit to the state by way of the new tax stream. States that have legalized, regulated and taxed cannabis have been able to eliminate budget deficits, fund quality education and much more. I believe CT can figure out how to do this and the benefits will outweigh any concerns.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
I come from a human service background and have seen the widening income gap and how the poor have become even poorer. Vulnerable populations need to be provided with food, housing & utilities, healthcare, education & training, job development, and other services but these can and should be funded by a combination of municipal, state, federal, and private funding streams. I do feel there needs to be more caution and accountability with state bonding, development grants, employer incentive programs and other corporate welfare programs.
In 2016 the Connecticut Retirement Security Program was created. It will give over 600,000 residents in our state a way to save for retirement at work. Knowing that employees are 15 times more likely to save merely by having access to payroll deduction, how will you continue the implementation of this important program?
I would have to find out more about the program to comment specifically but if it helps people prepare for the future and is voluntary I would support it. I would also want to see CT have a State Public Bank instead of just the private banks. Again, states venturing into new services have seen a steady and decent stream of new revenue coming into their states.
A recent report found 40 percent of Connecticut residents can't afford basic needs such as housing, food, health care, or child care. What would you do to improve their situation?
I have many years experience helping people improve their situations, as case manager, workshop facilitator, career counselor and most recently as Executive Director of the Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain for 18 years operating a Food Pantry, Social Services and Adult Education site. For those that can and want to work - education and job training for decent livable wage jobs and employers to hire them. For people who have retired or unable to work there should be sufficient income maintained thru government programs. Welfare Reform happened across the nation under Clinton and CT was one of the hardest hit. Many services and benefits ended, even for people living below the federal poverty level which fueled the increasing numbers of homeless individuals and families. Housing and utilities are the most difficult needs to meet, for people with limited income often paying 70 to 90 % of their income just for shelter costs. Food Stamps aka SNAP run out by week 3 for most of the hundreds of families using our Pantry each month and healthy food is costly. People can get some help at Pantries and Mobile Foodshare trucks but 200 people standing in line in the cold for half hour or longer just to get a bag of groceries is a sad sight, especially when many of them are seniors or children. Education about smart food shopping and public service announcements regarding available services might help, as would additional large grocers in low income neighborhoods. I know we can do better with the provision of basic needs and firmly believe we should be working towards universal healthcare and perhaps childcare.
Will you support top-down efforts to regionalize local services with an eye toward more efficiency and reducing the state's obligations regarding ECS and/or other funding for towns? How would you go about it?
I would support efforts to regionalize some services but need to study the issue further regarding ECS and how to address this unfair system.
The 459,000 family caregivers in Connecticut provide an estimated 427 million hours of care each year. Nationwide, nearly seven in ten caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving, including arriving late/leaving early, cutting back their hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely. Would you support a family leave law that provides paid leave to employees who have to take time off for family caregiving purposes?
In addition to any other benefits/perks, I believe there should be a fair amount of paid time off that employees could use for family leave. As with vacation, sick time, etc. any paid time off should be earned month to month, with the length of employment considered equally thru the ranks.
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
I support what's been called a "Green New Deal" which primarily wants to end to the use of dirty fossil fuels, create green energy jobs. As a Hartford Legislator I would work to address the disproportionate effects of pollution and climate change on marginal and at-risk communities. We can have a clean-energy economy that guarantees everyone in the state clean air and water, modernizes our aging infrastructure, and creates high-quality jobs. If we also legalize cannabis & hemp there will be another industry hiring people at many levels. Healthcare, Technology and other endless possibilities exist; if we train the workforce the investments will payoff.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
Yes, questions about previous convictions should not be asked until a provisional hire has occurred. There will be many situations where a conviction will and should keep certain people out of particular job but it should not happen at the application level. Criminal Justice reform has been on my front burner for many years, and "banning the box" was part of that larger agenda. I was part of the Clean Slate committee that met with Hartford Mayor Segarra and helped remove that question from Hartford City job applications.
Based on estimates that out-of-state drivers would contribute 30-40% of overall revenue if highway tolls are implemented in Connecticut, would you support tolls with or without offsetting cuts in the state's gas taxes?
Yes, we need the additional revenue. We pay tolls when we travel to other states and I believe we should charge a small fee at a couple places as well. I don't believe it should have an effect on gas taxes as not everyone is affected by the tolls but all would benefit from reduction in gas taxes making that trade unfair. Perhaps toll expenses will be deductible from the income tax.
Eversource and some out-of-state entities appear to be attempting to buy control of Connecticut's water resources, and some of our quasi-public water agencies have signed away large amounts of water to commercial interests with little regard to future water shortages. What can you do to ensure that Connecticut residents maintain control of public water supplies in perpetuity?
We need to enact policies that will protect our natural resources. I am running as a Green in part because of our commitment to protect our land, air and water for generations to come. Profit cannot come before people and water is a public trust that our leaders need to control. The Water Planning Council needs the support of legislators who will work to preserve our resources and not cave to corporate pressure.
Much of Connecticut is economically and racially segregated because many towns lack affordable housing and local zoning regulations prohibit multi-family dwellings. How would you propose incentivizing municipalities to start allowing multi-family units and other affordable housing options?
Much of CT is economically and racially segregated by design and choice and financial incentives to integrate may or may not be of interest. This will not be an easy sell but could start with a statewide task force, made up of diverse stakeholders who recognize that this is a problem that they wish to solve. Different municipalities might respond to different incentives but all could be laid on the table to see what is or isn't feasible. Still, developing multi-family dwellings and affordable housing may open doors for some lower income families but does not guarantee that racial barriers will be broken through. That will take a lot more education and community building, possible enlisting the help of faith communities. As more students of color leave their inner city neighborhoods for schools in surrounding suburbs perhaps the adults will meet and learn to appreciate each other's cultures. Maybe then it won't be so intimidating to see people color moving in.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
The disparities in the ECS have created this unequitable education system, leaving poor cities' schools in dire need and students with limited options. We need to come up with a better way to fund these needs through regionalization, BOE budgets not so dependent on municipal funding. I would have to research this more fully, see what other states are doing, before suggesting specific modifications.
Should the government's response to the opioid crisis be to focus on law enforcement to stop drug dealers, or improving access to treatment for addiction and reducing the overprescription of painkillers?
It has to be a combination of all 3 responses in order to have an impact. Access to effective treatment will be the most costly and difficult to develop but it's long overdue.