CT Patch Candidate Profile: Tim Gavin for State Senate


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FAIRFIELD, CT — The 2022 election is heating up in Connecticut and there are plenty of races with candidates eager to serve in elected office. Eyes are primarily focused on the gubernatorial election, but every state representative and senate seat is up for grabs. All five of Connecticut's congressional seats, plus one U.S. Senate seat, are up for grabs as well.


There are 151 seats in the state House of Representatives and 36 in the state Senate. Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers.

Connecticut Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.


Tim Gavin, a Fairfield, CT resident, is running for State Senate 28th State Senate District:


Campaign website

https://www.gavinforctsenate.com/

Party affiliation

Democrat and Independent Party of CT

Education

B.A., Yale University

Occupation Product Manager at the Integrity Institute, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to making the social internet safer and healthier. Higher Headquarters Department Commander, Army Reserve.


Family My parents were public school teachers for decades, recently retired in Canton, Connecticut, and my sister, Katherine, is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Social Work at UConn. My partner and I live in Fairfield and are eager to start a family here.


Does anyone in your family work in politics or government? N/A

Age 28

Previous public office, appointive or elective

N/A

Why are you seeking this office? I’ve always been committed to service. In college, I ran a program that connected Yale students to volunteer opportunities with local non-profits focused on supporting New Haven's refugees, unhoused, and food insecure. After graduating, I spent four years on active duty as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army.

I saw myself in a life of public service, but I didn’t connect that to serving in government until the Capitol insurrection happened. That felt like a real wake up call for me. I hadn’t thought of our democracy as being so fragile before, and that got me thinking about government service.

I’m running for State Senate to be a new, effective voice for the 28th district. The issues we are currently facing as a state–affordability, safety, and reproductive freedom–require leaders capable of meeting the moment in order to ensure the best outcome for all our residents. I am ready to step up in that capacity.


Please complete this statement: The single most pressing issue facing my constituents is ___, and this is what I intend to do about it.

There’s no doubt: we need to make Connecticut more affordable. This is the biggest concern for folks at the thousands of doors I have knocked. We recently passed the biggest middle-class tax cut in our state’s history, and we must continue to create opportunities for tax relief to make it easier and more advantageous for families, working people, and seniors to live and work here. To alleviate the tax burden on working families and seniors, I support creating a permanent child tax rebate, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and increasing tax exemptions for seniors. I will also advocate for measures that attract and retain businesses in Connecticut. Economic development strategies focused on long-term growth and stability will bring more safe, well-paying jobs to the state – jobs with robust benefits like good healthcare, retirement, and paid family leave.

Our state has paid down ten billion dollars of our unfunded pension liabilities, freeing up $440 million annually that can have a transformative impact in workforce development, infrastructure, and educational opportunities. All of this saves taxpayers money now and in the future.

If elected, I will fight for strategic investments in emerging industries, such as clean energy and high-tech manufacturing, including initiatives to increase apprenticeships and worker training programs within these industries.


Developing our advanced manufacturing sector will ensure that in the future, events abroad don’t cause supply disruptions raising prices here. Increasing clean, alternative energy sources in Connecticut will also reduce our energy bills, which are among the highest in the United States. Establishing public-private partnerships to train workers in high-demand professions will address key skill shortages and make sure people have the tools they need to be able to build solid, financially stable careers.


What are the major differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

Fiscal Responsibility: Unlike my opponent, I will be a close partner with Governor Lamont to address concerns and support affordability measures. Senator Hwang voted against the Governor’s balanced budget, which included over $600 million in tax cuts, paid down billions of dollars in pension debt, and prepared CT for economic turbulence by filling our Rainy Day Fund to its legal maximum, over $3 billion.

I am grateful for Governor Lamont's endorsement and I’ll work with the legislature on behalf of my constituents, not against them. As the son of schoolteachers, I grew up seeing my parents' pensions become politicized, and our state's unfunded pension liabilities have been a huge obstacle to our growth. In a smart fiscal move, by paying down a significant portion of that debt, we have freed up resources to support families through global inflation.

As a young person who struggled to find a place to live in Fairfield, affordability is a real concern for me and my partner. We want to live in and grow our careers here in Connecticut, as do many young folks graduating from our universities, but many hear that there just isn't opportunity here. These past few years are changing that tune, and I am eager to be a part of it.

Preparing young people for the economy of the future can have a profound impact on business growth in our state. While my opponent voted against establishing debt-free community college, I support expanding micro-credentialing programs. When I transitioned from the military, I completed a coding bootcamp for veterans, allowing me to find a job in technology. Most of my peers in the bootcamp hadn’t completed any education past high school, but the technical training we received in a 14-week program propelled many of them into cutting-edge software development jobs. We can magnify the impact of Connecticut’s debt-free community colleges by implementing similar bootcamps in emerging tech fields such as cybersecurity, data science, software development, and digital analytics.


We have to keep working to ensure Connecticut's economy emerges from the pandemic stronger. The stronger our economy is, the more we can make progress on critical challenges like taking on the existential threat of climate change, keeping our community safe from gun violence, and improving resident’s quality of life. So creating economic and educational opportunities is the foundation for everything else we want to do.

It’s often said that budgets are moral documents that reflect our values. My priorities are reducing the tax burden on working families, improving access to healthcare, and ensuring our education system is preparing Connecticut students to meet the shifting demands of a 21st century economy. We need public servants who are ready to put aside narrow interests–including their party–to make government work for the people.

Gun Safety: As a former infantry officer, I can speak with firsthand experience about handling firearms safely. The military taught me to respect guns, learn the warning signs of firearm abuse, and – most importantly – how devastating these weapons of war can be.

It's disappointing that common sense gun laws have become so deeply partisan. It was heartening to see the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act signed into federal law after a major coalition effort from advocates and elected officials. However, not a single Republican in the Connecticut General Assembly, including my opponent, supported strengthening our state’s ‘Red Flag’ law, which allows law enforcement or loved ones to petition a court to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns. This is despite clear evidence indicating the efficacy of extreme risk protection orders in reducing homicides, suicides, and gun-related accidents.

In the military there were instances in which I had soldiers go through personal crisis, when it was not safe for them to have access to a firearm. In those cases we had a clear process for them to hand off their weapon and get the behavioral health support they needed. It just makes sense to me that when civilians see clear signs of risk, they should also be able to take steps to keep their community safe.


I am proud to live in a state that has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the country and leads the nation with background check and permit requirements for purchase. This state is a model for other states and the country in how to combat gun violence.

That being said, there is still more work to be done to keep us safe from gun violence. Nearly half the guns recovered from crime scenes in Connecticut come from out of state, so it is critical to fund an interstate gun tracing task force to stem the flow of illegal firearms. We should also expand a statewide gun buyback program, as well as push to regulate bulk purchasing of firearms. Per the Gifford Center, this would help reduce the number of guns that enter the secondary market. If elected, I will treat the protection of our children and communities from gun violence as an urgent, nonpartisan issue.

Reproductive Freedom: For the first time in American history, an individual right that most Americans have had their entire lives has been taken away. The role of government should be to empower people, not to control them. The Dobbs decision changed the national conversation regarding reproductive rights.


Thankfully, our state legislature was prepared. Connecticut passed first-in-the-nation legislation protecting out-of-state patients coming here for abortion care as well as our medical providers from being sued or prosecuted. Unfortunately, not a single Republican serves on the Reproductive Rights Caucus.

Just last year, Senator Hwang voted against SB 835, which required “crisis pregnancy centers” to accurately advertise that they do not conduct any medical procedures, including abortion care, onsite. These centers, which outnumber actual abortion clinics three to one in the U.S., have a record of misleading pregnant people. Many employ deceptive advertising practices to intercept women seeking abortion care, and then use medical misinformation to intimidate and dissuade clients from ending their pregnancy.

I support access to accurate, unbiased medical information that allows our residents to make the most informed decisions for their own health. That's why I wrote an op-ed about the necessity for privacy protections on pregnant people's data so that they are not targeted for seeking abortion care.

If elected, I’ll stand with fellow Democrats to maintain Connecticut as a “safe harbor” and ensure its place as a leader among states in safeguarding reproductive rights. That includes leveraging my background in technology to address new issues like protecting sensitive health data that could be subject to surveillance and digital tracking.


Not only can Connecticut take steps to protect the right to choose, but we can also expand postpartum and child care to improve the wellbeing of our families and workforce. My opponent opposed “An Act Concerning Medical Assistance for Children and Adults Without Healthcare Coverage”, which provided postpartum care to women and children who are most in need. He voted against Paid Family and Medical Leave, an urgently needed bill to address maternal and child health equity as well as uplift our workforce, about half of which consists of women, and the 459,000 family caregivers throughout the state. In this election, the choice is clear: As the Planned Parenthood-endorsed candidate, I will stand up for reproductive freedom and family care in the State Senate.


If you are challenging an incumbent, in what way has the current officeholder failed the community? We’re coming out of a historically difficult time for students, parents, and teachers alike. The pandemic forced us to adapt to online learning then shift back to an in person environment.

I saw my partner create materials from scratch every night while teaching online, I saw her try to reinvest students who lost confidence during the pandemic, and I saw her constantly take calls from parents worried about their kids. It’s clear there has been serious learning loss as a result of this pandemic. We need to treat that educational disruption as the crisis that it is.

Unfortunately, my opponent failed to attend the Fairfield Education Association forum. In addition to his refusal to debate, Senator Hwang received a “D grade” from the Connecticut Education Association on his voting record when it comes to our schools. Public education accounts for a significant portion of our state budget. It is simply not fiscally responsible nor is it fair to the realities we face—serious learning deficits and a critical teacher shortage—to neglect the issue of education.

We need lawmakers who step up for our families and teachers in support of our schools. The aftermath of the pandemic means that investing in public education is more urgent than ever.


I am committed to working to achieve access to high quality education for every child in Connecticut, regardless of their zip code. I support collaborating with our schools' extraordinary teachers, administrators, and parent communities to improve student achievement through a variety of initiatives. I will push for more access to after-school programs, to invest in STEM and computer science programming, to expand pre-K learning opportunities, and to increase availability of health and mental health resources for students at all levels of education, particularly in light of the challenges they have faced due to the pandemic. What other issues do you intend to address during your campaign? As I campaign in Fairfield County, I constantly speak to parents concerned about their kids. And for good reason: this generation of young people has unprecedented rates of anxiety and depression, and a lot of it can be traced back to increased time spent on social media and the internet.

Something needs to change: we need to make the internet, and especially social media, safer for kids and teens. Tech companies are working internally to root out harmful content and practices like harassment, hate speech, and disinformation. I know something about their current efforts–I worked to prevent child exploitation on Facebook and Instagram as a member of the Meta Child Safety Team. But it’s clear that the government should have a critical role to play in establishing safety standards for companies to uphold.

We need consumer protections so that companies design their sites with the safety of young people in mind. That’s why, if elected, I will author legislation to provide guardrails for our youngest internet users, modeled off a bipartisan bill that recently passed unanimously in the California State Senate.

The California legislation gets tech regulation right. It requires that tech companies provide significant privacy settings by default, rather than forcing users to opt-in through complicated processes. It also switches off geolocation services that track where people are when they access a website – and, importantly, it bans “nudges techniques” that encourage unsuspecting kids to provide additional personal data.


Here in Connecticut, it’s time for a similar Age-Appropriate Design Code to ensure online platforms are built to take the wellbeing of children into account.

Now, I’m not an anti-technologist. The social internet can be a powerful tool for our communities to connect and thrive. In fact, I currently work with other online safety professionals at the Integrity Institute to advise tech companies, regulators, and legislators on ways to make our internet better. But we need ethical design standards, so our young people aren’t sucked into rabbit holes of autoplayed content, often age-inappropriate and algorithmically optimized to grab their attention, while unwittingly having their personal data harvested.

As policymakers, keeping our community safe should be our foremost priority, but there is a major gap in our federal law protecting kids online. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 is limited to online services specifically aimed at kids–and only protects users under the age of 13. It does not address websites with a broad audience, even when the vast majority of teens are using popular social media sites.

Here is where we can come in. Connecticut has a history of taking the lead in protecting its residents. We passed several first-in-the-nation gun-safety laws after the tragedy in Sandy Hook. In the wake of the disastrous Dobbs decision, we lead the way with reproductive rights legislation that protects medical providers and patients who are traveling from other states for abortion care. Now we can again take the lead and safeguard our most vulnerable residents. By passing a “CT Kids’ Code,” our government can stand with concerned parents around the state, and hold web and social media sites accountable for our communities’ safety.

This isn’t a partisan issue. Everyone – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – should be able to get behind making technology safer for kids. If elected, I promise to enlist my professional background in online safety toward this goal and lead the fight to pass an Age-Appropriate Design Code in Connecticut.


What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

My time in the Army allowed me the chance to work closely with people from a lot of different backgrounds -- it made us work together, actually. I worked with soldiers of all ages, cultures, beliefs, and walks of life. It’s an amazing experience, sometimes hard, sometimes humbling, and you learn that there’s a lot more to people than what we’re usually led to think.

I know many people see our current politics, and our nation as a whole, as hopelessly divided – rife with partisan discord and obstructionism. But I think there are even more people who believe we are capable of moving beyond all of that to become more cooperative and forward-looking. If we aim to do so, it’s time for elected officials to put people first to help solve the problems facing our state.

I am grateful to have the support of numerous organizations that represent our values and concerns across this district. It has been over a decade since the Independent Party endorsed the Democratic State Senate candidate in this district, a sign that our campaign reflects a significant portion of our constituency. As a veteran, I am proud to stand with fellow public servants like the teachers of the Fairfield Education Association and the social workers of the NASW. As a son of public school teachers, AFL-CIO’s endorsement demonstrates my commitment to supporting working families across CT. In terms of what I can deliver as an advocate for the safety of our rights and our communities, my candidacy has also received support from gun safety advocacy groups, like CT Against Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action, as well as Planned Parenthood.

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?


Leaders eat last. In the military, we live by this philosophy. And it is literal: as a Platoon Leader, I would eat my meals after my soldiers–a daily reminder to put the people I serve first. I have kept this in mind throughout my work on this campaign–that is why I pound the pavement and have knocked doors every day for months. I want to ensure every voter is heard and that I can sufficiently represent their voices in Hartford as a leader for this district.

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