Kissel starts sidewalk events to communicate with constituents [Reminder News]

October 5, 2011

Article as it appeared in the Reminder News

By Gregory A. Scibelli – Staff Writer
Suffield – posted Fri., Sep. 30, 2011

Richard Lathrop came out to CVS on Sept. 27 to take advantage of a public service he believes more people should have everywhere.
He visited state Sen. John Kissel (R-7th District) at the first “Senator on the Sidewalk” session held in Suffield, to speak to him about an issue regarding medical insurance.

“I’m glad to have the opportunity to be able to speak with him in person and not have to go through the phones and e-mail to get a response,” said Lathrop. “I think this is a good thing, and all our representatives should have this kind of service for their people.”

Kissel said constituent service is something that should be a priority for every representative, regardless of party affiliation. The 19-year state senator said the “sidewalk” concept was developed in his office and is a trial run and will be presented as an idea for other representatives in the Connecticut General Assembly, if it proves to be successful. Kissel already believes it has been.

“This is the second session we have held,” said Kissel. “Our first one was held in Somers, and I had the opportunity to speak to a lot of different people about a lot of issues.” The senator said issues ran the gamut, from health care to taxes to education. “Many of my constituents are upset with the most recent tax hikes that were passed by Governor Malloy,” said Kissel.

In Suffield, Kissel tackled health care issues, and had one long discussion with a constituent, Suffield resident Bob Borg, about the future of the Suffield High School agriscience program. Borg told Kissel he would like to see more towns send more students to the regional program. Borg said he had attended meetings in nearby towns, such as Enfield, where he learned that they are limiting the number of students being sent to the agriscience program because of limited school choice tuition money.

Information like that provided by Borg is what makes the sidewalk program successful, Kissel said. “The people here are my eyes and ears,” said Kissel, who represents Suffield, East Granby, Windsor Locks, Enfield, Somers and parts of Windsor and Granby.

“Unfortunately, I cannot be anywhere, and I count on the people to bring these issues to my attention,” he said.

While time is limited, Kissel said his favorite part of his job after 19 years is still getting out and interacting with the public. He wants people to know the sidewalk program is not about politics or political gain of any kind, it is simply about doing his job to provide constituent service.

“It’s not an election year right now for any of us [in the Assembly],” said Kissel. “I am out here because I want to listen to what my constituents have to say, as their representative.”

Kissel provided information for constituents regarding recent activity at the General Assembly and offered people the opportunity to get on an e-mail list to receive regular updates about bills being proposed for consideration in the House and Senate.

According to information provided by Kissel, the General Assembly removed jail sentences as a penalty for possessions of small amounts of marijuana. The bill, which was passed and took effect in July, establishes a series of fines for offenses and orders rehabilitation for the third offense.

The state senator said two education bills passed. One requires a certain percentage of a town or city’s budget to go toward education spending based on money received through the Education Cost Sharing initiative. The second updates bullying and cyberbullying policies to include more types of conduct that can constitute as bullying. It now reflects certain types of conduct that occur outside of the school building. Cyberbullying is completely barred under the new law.

More sidewalk sessions will be scheduled during the next couple of months in Windsor, Windsor Locks and Granby. Residents seeking more information can go to or call his office at 800-842-1421.