Commentary: Listening to every voice gets better results

State Sen. Kevin Kelly
State Sen. Kevin Kelly

As the 2014 legislative session ramps up, it is increasingly important for our state leaders to work together — across party lines — to achieve our shared goals.

We can all agree that we want to strengthen Connecticut’s economy, grow jobs and enhance the quality of life for every citizen. However, we do not always see leaders cooperating to fulfill these aspirations.

During Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s address on opening day of the legislative session, he said, “We should not listen” to critics of his policies and plans. I am disappointed in his message, which perpetuates a divisive atmosphere at the Capitol.

I believe we can accomplish a lot this session, but we have to listen to our critics and respect all opinions. Only through listening to different perspectives can we forge sound public policy.

In his 2011 inaugural message to the Connecticut General Assembly, the governor had a very different message for Connecticut. He told us that, “we will need to solve our problems — together — by pursuing with great urgency not Republican ideas or Democratic ideas, but good ideas that know no political master or agenda.”

I agree with that statement from three years ago, and I believe that is the right message for Connecticut.

We need to focus on the merit of ideas, not party lines. In America everybody has a voice, and politics should be an open marketplace of ideas.

We have many shared goals. Even though Democrats and Republicans may disagree on methods to reach these goals, I do not see any value in vilifying those who think differently.

We have two options. We can either go to work together, side-by-side with our critics, and create effective solutions to our problems. Or, we can go to work separately, and end up with more problems than what we started with.

I grew up in a home where my mother was a Democrat and my father was a Republican. Conversations at the dinner table were always interesting, but we respected each other’s views.

I am a proud Republican, but that doesn’t mean I ignored my mother’s opinions.

The mutual respect in my family, despite our different political views, is a dynamic that Connecticut needs.

I am always willing to not only offer my own opinions, but to listen to the opinions of my critics. I believe that in lawmaking, the beauty of the process is in the dissent.

Republican Kevin Kelly represents the 21st Senatorial District, which includes all of Shelton and parts of Monroe, Seymour and Stratford. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 or