Submitted by Kevin Maloney.
Six Connecticut state legislators – two state senators and four state representatives — were honored as Legislative Champions of the Year for 2021 by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) at CCM’s annual statewide convention held on November 30 and Dec 1, 2021 at the Mohegan Sun Resort and attended by over 700 municipal and business leaders.
The honorees for 2021 were Senator Rob Sampson, Senator Christine Cohen, Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey, Representative Joe Zullo, Representative Michelle Cook, and Representative Jill Barry. (See below for background and towns they represent.)
“This group of state legislators have been dynamic leaders who exemplify the strongest commitment to community involvement and the needs of Connecticut towns and cities – both in their districts and across the state,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director and CEO. “They are always accessible to municipal leaders in their districts and elsewhere, and always play a clear major role speaking for CCM-led initiatives and against proposed legislation that would have been detrimental to towns and cities and property taxpayers.
“These state legislators have a deep commitment to their constituents and show a significant understanding of the needs of the town and city governments in their district as well as across the state,” noted DeLong, “Their work on key committees is critical to municipal interests and they always assess the local government impact on all legislation that comes before them.”
State Senator Christine Cohen
Cohen represents 12th District towns of Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison, and North Branford.
Senator Cohen is the Senate Chair of the Environment Committee, Vice-Chair of the Commerce Committee, and she sits as a voting member on both the Planning & Development and Children’s committees.
Senator Cohen has focused her public policy energies on protecting Connecticut’s environment, preventing gun violence, making Connecticut healthier, and strengthening the state’s economy. Senator Cohen helped pass new state laws to ban single-use plastic bags beginning in 2021, to ban the production of untraceable ‘ghost guns,’ to raise the smoking and vaping age to 21, to reduce business taxes, expand workforce development training, and institute a paid family and medical leave system beginning in 2022.
State Senator Rob Sampson
Sampson serves the 16th state Senate District representing the towns of Cheshire, Prospect, Southington, Waterbury and Wolcott.
Sampson promotes government and budgetary transparency and has dedicated himself to shedding light on how projects will be funded and if government funds are being used for their intended purposes.
He has been appointed as the ranking senator on the Government Administration and Elections Committee and the Labor and Public Employees Committee. He will also return as a member on the Judiciary and Commerce Committees.
State Representative Jill Barry
Barry serves Glastonbury in the 31 Assembly District. She is the Vice Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly Education Committee and an Assistant Majority leader for the 2019 legislative session. Jill serves as a member on the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and Public Safety and Security Committee.
She is devoted to Glastonbury’s well-being and her involvement with Glastonbury’s Town Council since 2011. During her time on the Council, Jill assisted businesses interested to expand or relocate.
Jill initiated and passed the “Tobacco Free Parks” program in Glastonbury after hearing concerns from parents and coaches that saw people smoking near children at baseball games. She also enhanced Glastonbury’s appeal for visitors by working with the Town and the PTSO on securing new signs at Riverfront Park, detailing the rich history of the area.
State Representative Michelle Cook
Cook represents the 65th Assembly District serving Torrington. She is in third term as a Deputy Speaker of the House. Cook serves as a member of the Education, Human Services, Legislative Management, and Public Health Committees.
Cook has been a long-time strong supporter for issues involving children and families. She has worked to reform Connecticut’s domestic violence laws. Cook has been repeatedly recognized as a Children’s Champion and Legislator of the Year by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance.
She is also a member of the Medicare Managed Care Committee and the Primary Care Medical Home (PCMH) Subcommittee. PCMH is a program for health care providers and families seeking quality and affordable health care.
State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey
Vahey represents Fairfield’s 133rd Assembly District. She is House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee and a member of the Government Administration and Elections and Transportation Committees.
As the Planning and Development Committee Chair, she has been integral in modernizing and re-organizing zoning statutes to provide greater clarity and tools to local planning and zoning officials, empower towns and cities to facilitate economic growth, ensure inclusive communities, add energy and environmental protections to their zoning codes, and allow accessory dwelling units across the state.
As a member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, Cristin worked with committee leadership to expand voter accessibility, restoring voting rights to those on parole, and giving the CT voters the chance to vote on two Constitutional Amendments: one for early voting and the other to provide no-excuse absentee ballots to registered voters.
State Representative Joe Zullo
Zullo represents the 99th District covering the town of East Haven. He has served on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the Housing Committee, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, and the Planning and Development Committee.
Zullo previously served as East Haven’s Town Attorney, a position he has held for seven years. His other career experience includes working as a partner in the private general law practice of Zullo, Zullo, and Jacks. Zullo has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the East Haven Chamber of Commerce.