Another Election Day, another pair of victories for Waterford’s two Democrat female state legislators.
Andrea Stillman and Betsy Ritter both easily defeated their opponents, both male Republicans, to hold the positions they’ve both had since 2004.
For Ritter, it means another two years as the representative in the state’s 38th Congressional District, which covers Waterford and part of Montville, and for Stillman it means another two years as Senator in the state’s 20th District, which covers Waterford, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Bozrah and Salem.
Ritter defeated the same person she ran against in 2010, Tony Siragusa, by an even larger margin than last time in a mostly polite campaign. Meanwhile Stillman defeated Republican Mike Doyle in a race where Stillman said Doyle participated in “dirty campaigning,” which she said only worked against him.
Stillman earned her fifth term in the State Senate. This came after she voted for Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget, which included one of the largest tax increases in Connecticut history, and after she was in the middle of a highly contentious debate on education reform that resulted in her authorizing changes to what Malloy originally proposed.
Stillman said she believed people understood the need for a tax increase considering the fiscal state Connecticut was in. And she said her changes to the education bill improved the bill, and made it more teacher-friendly.
“I think the people in my district – especially the teachers – understood that I worked very hard to come up with a balanced bill,” Stillman said. “And one that they felt would help them in terms of teaching. So I think the education bill itself was a boost for me because for the most part teachers were very appreciative of the hard work I did on that bill.”
Meanwhile, Stillman said Doyle tried several “low blows” during the campaign, including one where he inferred that she was planning to move to Florida after the election. Stillman said Doyle resorted to those tactics to take attention away from his platform, or lack thereof, and said it ultimately hurt him in the election.
“(The public) could see right through it, that it was dirty campaigning,” Stillman said. “And it was unfortunate, but when you have an opponent that doesn’t have a record or anything to offer, that’s what your opponent does. They try to get back at you with false accusations.”
For Ritter, the victory means another two years representing the state's 38th Congressional District. And yet despite defeating Siragusa in the last election and being both a Waterford resident in a district that mainly covers Waterford and being a Democrat in a district that normally favors Democrats, Ritter knocked on 3,000 doors for her campaign.
“I think that I have a reputation for working for my district very hard, and of course in the intervening two years I had the opportunity to expand on that, which I believe I did,” Ritter said, describing why she felt she won the election. “I also think that people appreciate when someone will take that much time at their homes and ask them the things that they are concerned about in the state. And I think that I worked hard to explain many of the hard choices we have made in the last two years.”
Ritter also voted for the Malloy budget, which increased taxes, but said she believes people understand the reasons for it.
“I think the state’s financial picture is stronger now than it was two years ago and we managed to do that in a way that was not nearly as bitter or as partisan as you saw in some other states,” Ritter said. “And you know, I think that realization was understood by a bunch of people.”
Unlike Stillman and Doyle, Ritter and Siragusa resorted to no “low blows” during the campaign. Ritter was complimentary of her opponent, and said she was happy on how the campaign played out.
“People should recognize that it was a decent-run campaign and fair and there was discussion on the issues,” Ritter said. “And you didn’t see that in every campaign in the state.”