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Friday, October 29, 2004

Westport News Endorses Farrell

The Westport News, one of two non-daily newspapers in Westport, today endorsed Democratic Westport First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell over Republican incumbent Rep. Christopher Shays for Congress.

The newspaper also endorsed Republican incumbents state Sen.Judith Freedman in the 26th District, G. Kenneth Bernhard in the 136th House District, and Cathy Tymniak in the 133rd House District.

The text of the editorial on the Shays-Farrell race:

Democrat Diane Farrell will bring fresh eyes to old problems in the 4th Congressional District. She is poised to renew the focus on the district’s day-to-day issues and problems and to listen to the concerns of her constituents. Those are the reasons why we endorse her.

Throughout her 11 years in public office in Westport, Farrell has concentrated on the local issues, but she has broadened her scope to include regional transportation problems and economic development in Bridgeport. On a national level, she has expressed her concerns about the Patriot Act and its potentials for abuse; she sees a need to reform the No Child Left Behind Act, which has left education professionals worried that many schools, including the good ones, will fail to meet yearly achievement requirements; and she pledges to take another look at Medicare and prescription drug benefits for seniors. Given that her work as the chairman of the South Western Regional Planning Agency’s Metropolitan Planning Organization provides her with an in-depth knowledge of Fairfield County’s transportation problem, she is in a position to search for the funds to help alleviate traffic congestion and make the roads safer.

Her tenure as first selectwoman of Westport has not been without problems, and some of the criticism leveled at her is not without merit. But rarely does a politician please everyone.

Republican incumbent Christopher Shays has spent 30 years in public service first in the state legislature and then in the U.S. Congress. While in Washington, he has secured millions of dollars in federal grants and appropriations for many 4th District programs and projects, including those for the infrastructure, schools, transportation and social services.

Though his service to his constitutents has been admirable, we believe his focus has shifted away from the concerns of the 4th District to more national and international issues. He has become an expert in homeland security and terrorism, specifically through his chairmanship of the National Security Subcommittee. He helped draft the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security, and subsequently was appointed to the Select Committee on Homeland Security.

He has become so entrenched in security issues that we believe he has failed to fully listen to his constituents ח and has voted counter to their concerns over such issues as the pre-emptive attack on Iraq and the invasiveness of the Patriot Act.

In many ways, he has outgrown his job as U.S. representative, and we believe his time now would be better spent if he could use his expertise in national security and terrorism in another arena. The next administration would be wise to tap Shays’ knowledge.

Clearly, Shays has had a beneficial impact in the 4th Congressional District. But when the campaign rhetoric is cleared away, we believe that the time has come for a change.

As a freshman in Congress, Farrell will not have all of the answers, but we believe she will seek with greater diligence the counsel of her constituents and bring a more moderate voice to the House at a time when many believe that the government has become out of touch with the people it represents.

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Posted 10/29/04 at 10:12 AM  Permalink