Predictions for 2024, from Greenwich’s senior statesman

Newsletter Volume 2 • Number 33

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Just don’t call him Santa Claus.

It may be due to the afterglow of a waning holiday season, or ruddy cheeks nipped by frost in the air, but there’s something positively jolly about State Rep. Steve Meskers.

The Old Greenwich resident is in his third term representing the 150th District, where he is known for his gregarious nature. You might see a twinkle in his eye as he describes what he loves about his job. “It’s rewarding to be an advocate for residents.” When it’s suggested it wouldn’t take much for him to pass as the old elf, however, Meskers demurs. “I’m not sure I like where this is going!” he jokes.

At the statehouse, in business attire, Meskers cuts an entirely different figure as the senior Greenwich delegate to the Connecticut General Assembly (CGA). Talking about 2024, Meskers’ manner is direct, candid, and confident. This is year two of the CGA’s biennial budget cycle. After passing landmark middle-income tax cuts last year, while maintaining a robust rainy day fund, Meskers foresees a focus on social and environmental programs and is poised to take on the critical issues on behalf of Greenwich residents.

More support for early childhood education

The per-pupil reimbursement to childcare centers has been frozen for a decade, Meskers notes, and education programs need to be expanded. “Addressing this will help us fill a large number of job vacancies in the state, close achievement gaps, and contribute to narrowing economic disparities.”

Tackling clean energy issues

Connecticut has to address the rollout of EVs, as many states pledge to prohibit gas cars by 2035. But Meskers points out that we also have to expand energy storage at the same time, or we won’t be able to reduce our reliance on power plants. It’s why he’s also advocating for more solar and geothermal in school projects. “If you are doing boiler replacements,” Meskers said, “you can reduce demand on the grid by installing geo-thermal or solar, and save money on operating costs.”

Negotiating the state government “process”

Reflecting on his five years in office, Meskers says he’s gotten better at “negotiating the process.” By that, he means figuring out how to get things done in a bureaucracy. “Just when you think you have a roadmap, there’s a new obstacle,” he says. “Agencies are pretty independent, and negotiating with them can be onerous. I’ve learned how.”

That experience has shown results. The Greenwich delegation brought home funding for a number of nonprofits in 2023. Meskers ticks some of them off. “The Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Neighbor 2 Neighbor, Barbara’s House, and the Greenwich Point Conservancy Chimes building renovation.”

That’s worth a ho, ho, ho!

The campaign for state representation in 2024 starts now

Steve Meskers and the town’s two other state house members, Hector Arzeno and Rachel Khanna, face re-election in November. We are hoping you’ll help retain their seats, and elect another Democrat, to take the 36th District state senate seat back too.

RTM adopts noise ordinance and summer gas leaf blower ban

In a marathon meeting, the RTM voted to reinstate the town noise ordinance and adopt summer limits on gas leaf blowers. The moratorium begins the Friday before Memorial Day, through September 30th, annually. The law is effective immediately, however fines won’t begin until 2025, to give landscapers and residents time to learn the rules and acquire any alternative equipment.

For proponents of the ban, the third time was a charm. Quiet Yards Greenwich, the grassroots group behind the proposal, was preceded by a different citizen group in 1994, and another in 2011, whose efforts were blocked by the Board of Health. Advocate Elizabeth Dempsey said, “At last, instead of listening to earpiercing noise and inhaling toxic fumes, for a few months out of the year, residents can enjoy fresh air and the sounds of nature in their own backyards.”

How your representatives voted.

Confusion reigns at Republican town caucuses

While Democratic caucuses to elect new party members went off without a hitch last week, Republicans’ gatherings apparently did not fare so well. According to the Greenwich Time and Greenwich Free Press, infighting among attendees erupted over allegations about improper ballots and counting procedures, as well as “bullying tactics.” In one case, a recount was ordered in Greenwich District 7, north of downtown, and the intervention of the state party. According to the Greenwich Patriots, similar unsavory tactics occurred in the 2022 Republican caucus. These divisions follow on the heels of a fractious vote for Republican chair of the town finance board.

Volume 2, Number 33 • January 17, 2024
Paid for by the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee.
Greenwich Democratic Town Committee P.O. Box 126 Greenwich, CT 06836