In the third of a series of posts, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont discusses his stance on issues relevant to young professionals. Lamont is a Greenwich businessman who has advocated for improving public transportation. Lamont will face the endorsed Democratic candidate, Dan Malloy, in the Aug. 10 primary.
What do you think are the three issues young professionals in Connecticut are most concerned about?
Jobs, jobs, and jobs. It couldn’t be clearer these days. It’s got to be the number one priority of our next governor to help create the kinds of 21st century jobs that will employ the newest members of our workforce and enable them to lay down roots here in our state. First, we need to strengthen our schools-to-workforce pipeline to make sure that we’re maintaining our world-class workforce, trained in skill sets that align with the needs of Connecticut employers.
Next, we need to make our cities into vibrant, fun, safe, places to live. My Plan to Renew our Cities details the steps I’ll take as governor to return Connecticut’s cities to the cultural and economic hubs they once were. The entire plan is available on my website: http://www.nedlamont.com/issues?id=0007
Finally, I’ll be a partner in Hartford for our state’s businesses, and I’m going to work hard to recruit more. Right now, our economic development efforts are focusing too much on bringing in large companies from out-of-state, and not enough on giving our own small businesses the support they need to grow and hire more workers.
How would you retain young professional talent in Connecticut?
We’ve got some of the best colleges and universities in the country here in our state, yet our graduates can’t seem to leave Connecticut fast enough. We need to make sure that they can find great places to live and good jobs to launch their careers. That’s why improving cities is a priority, and why creating jobs is a necessity.
What kinds of initiatives would you enact to create more affordable housing for young professionals?
First, I will create a student loan forgiveness program for graduates in in-demand fields who commit to stay and work in Connecticut. Removing the burden of loan repayments for recent graduates is a huge relief for people just beginning their careers, making rent or mortgage payments more affordable.
Additionally, smart growth in cities is one of the most important things we can do to improve them, and it starts with mixed-use, transit-oriented development. Affordable housing is an important component, because people need to be able to afford to live in the city where they work. It’s better for the environment, for reducing traffic on our highways, and for commerce in our cities.
What would you do to improve public transportation?
For too long, we’ve let our state’s highway system hollow out our cities, resulting in deserted downtowns and some of the worst gridlock in the country. As governor, I will put public transit front and center. Just this week I unveiled my Plan to Get Connecticut Moving Again, my strategy to improve rail service, give commuters more options for how to get to work, and repair our state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure (you can read the full plan on my website: http://action.nedlamont.com/page/s/transportplan)
Strengthening our rail system and giving Connecticut residents better public transportation options is the only way to bring our cities back to life, break the gridlock on our highways, and make Connecticut more competitive in the 21st century economy.