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Esty talks vocational schools, more in visit to Herald office

Posted on October 17, 2016

NEW BRITAIN — In a wide-ranging 90-minute discussion with The New Britain Herald editorial board Monday, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5) talked on a variety of subjects from vocational schools and community colleges to gun laws and Donald Trump.

Esty, who is being challenged by Republican Clay Copes, spoke passionately about the importance of vocational schools, noting there have been rumors that two might be eliminated. New Britain is the home of E.C. Goodwin Technical School.

“Closing a vo-tech school would just be wrong,” said Esty, who has visited many vocational technical schools in her district this year. “They offer and have high value added jobs.” Esty, who said many have become “too snooty about” those who do not have a bachelor’s or a higher degree, said. “It’s hard to get kids exposed to those (trade) fields, but that is beginning to change.”

Throughout her discussion, Esty often talked about how the Republican nominee for president has tapped into something in Connecticut and the country as a whole.

Esty — who was an early supporter of Democrat Hillary Clinton — said Trump and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who ran against Clinton in the primary, “so resonated in this district.”

Trump, Esty said, “has tapped into anger and frustration. There was a fire burning (prior to Trump). It was burning all over the district in Burlington, Berlin, Watertown, Waterbury…” That fire, Esty maintained, often had to deal with the lack of jobs and opportunities for many people in her district. In some cases, Esty – who is seeking her third two-year term — said some men making $50,000 or $60,000 annually worked in shops that closed while their wives were working “a second shift. They felt disrespected.”

A strong supporter of laws that close gun loopholes, Esty said Connecticut has “one of the strongest laws (related to guns) in the country.” Esty said there was a decrease in homicides in the state when the state tightened its gun laws.

Esty, whose district encompasses Sandy Hook Elementary School, where two dozen people were murdered four years ago, said “gun access really matters.”

While Esty supports the rights of gun owners to hunt and protect their homes, she said, “access is important. A gun is so easy and lethal and dangerous.” Esty said she will continue to fight and support for a detailed “comprehensive background check” that includes gun show and other loopholes. Esty said 189 members of U.S. Congress support the measure, while 218 are required for passage. “I have Republican colleagues who’d vote on it, but are afraid of it,” said Esty, who noted that public opinion polls show that 80 percent of gun owners favor a comprehensive background check for someone to purchase a weapon.

On other issues, Esty — whose state headquarters are located in the city — said she supports “public private partnerships” on issues like high speed rail and transportation, and spoke of Plainville High School’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program, which she recently called the best in the state.

“They are all hands on deck,” Esty said of the school and its support from the business community, educators, parents and students.

Esty — who has several veterans in her own family – also spoke in high regard of veterans and said the country needs to do more “to take care of them when they come home.”

Tuesday, Nov. 8 is Election Day.

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