Deecken: Empower Voters With Ballot Initiatives

Rich Deecken
Rich Deecken

Declaring “lawmakers are notoriously bad at regulating their own behavior when it comes to conflicts of interest and ethics,” Republican candidate for State Senate Rich Deecken, a Bassick High School teacher, maintains ballot initiatives in Connecticut would provide checks on special interests and government monopolies. Deecken is challenging Democratic incumbent Marilyn Moore in the city-suburban 22nd District.

From Deecken:

Ballot initiatives and referendums can provide an additional voice for people when it comes to drafting and enacting legislation. Many states provide for direct or indirect forms of ballot initiatives while Connecticut’s constitution does not allow petitions and ballot initiatives created by citizens. While I’m skeptical of direct ballot initiatives that are prevalent in most western states, I do think Connecticut could benefit from an indirect ballot initiative process similar to Massachusetts Article 48.

Ballot initiatives are proposed laws placed on the ballot on behalf of citizens. Referendums are laws that require a majority vote before implementation. Both of these legislative tools provide a path for citizens to enact changes and can provide another check on state government. In particular, I see value in citizen petitions that can compel action on the part of the legislature when lawmakers are reluctant to regulate their own behavior.

We live in era where special interests have become an integral part of current law making process. Ballot initiatives and referendums can provide a check on special interest. If Connecticut had a ballot initiative, it would be difficult to maintain the current Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun gaming monopoly. Massachusetts cities and towns were able to make decisions regarding gaming and legal cannabis dispensaries via the referendum process. If ballot initiatives can work in Massachusetts, why not try them in Connecticut?

Ballot initiatives can break an impasse. We need only look to the 2017 state budget stalemate where for over 3 months into the next fiscal year, we operated without an adopted state budget. While a budget ultimately passed, the possibility or threat of a ballot initiative or referendum can be enough to prevent further stalemates and brinksmanship from occurring.

Lastly, lawmakers are notoriously bad at regulating their own behavior when it comes to conflicts of interest and ethics. When good government advocates have the power to initiate legislation, lawmakers are forced to engage in the process to make reforms. Remember the Jack Hennessy conflict of interest bill that was torpedoed by Sen. Cathy Osten; the same Cathy Osten who guaranteed the Bridgeport competitive casino bill would never pass the Senate. Sen. Osten of Southeastern Connecticut, with the help of Sen. Tim Larson of East Hartford, wrecked Bridgeport’s opportunity to compete in the casino gaming market. The petition process, as opposed to legislators, can provide the needed push to update laws when lawmakers are reluctant to do so.

Massachusetts has provided a good model in restrained ballot initiatives and referendum. Be it education, tax policy, cannabis or casino gaming, Massachusetts has shown itself to be a leader in the region. It is time for Connecticut to consider adopting some of the Bay State policies to become more competitive.



  1. Not a bad initiative with which to land in Hartford for a first GA term… And at least he has some “initiative”… Not much being pursued for Bridgeport at the Capitol, otherwise…

  2. That green and white shirt and football in hand is NOT going to get votes in Trumbull.
    Neither is his feeble attempt to suggest initiative in referendum. He was part of the Herbst Administration that refused a referendum on the failed $20 million unfunded community center.
    Deecken is clutching at straws as well as the fooptball, the football may contain air but the straws are as hollow as this suggestion.
    We won’t get initiative in referendum or recall in Connecticut.

    Remember when our part time legislators only met every other year? Less chance to spend tax dollars. Deecken already gets one tax funded paycheck, that’s enough.

  3. As usual Rich is taking the bull by the horns and acknowledging the voters, the people he will serve. Noting that voting for someone is not giving them carte blanche and they still have a voice above and beyond that election day exercise.

    This is well worth exploring.

  4. BTW Marshall, I’m not sure what you’re implying by saying Trumbull voters won’t support Rich because he’s wearing a green and white Bassick shirt. Are you saying that Trumbull voters look down on Bridgeport and wouldn’t support an inner city public school teacher? A long time and loyal public servant to the Trumbull Community?

    Also, your comments about Rich already receiving a taxpayer funded paycheck are laughable. You do realize that Marilyn Moore, whom you support, collects a salary from her nonprofit which receives funding from the State of Connecticut , also known as TAXPAYERS. Glad to see you think she shouldn’t be doing that. I look forward to your call for her to resign.

      1. WOW, you don;t give people much credit. Being able to tell the difference between the 2 and knowing that one has nothing to do with the other. Kind of a childish view.

  5. Cindy, Trumbull may support Rich, but trust and believe that Black people won’t because of what ya boy 45 does and says. I can’t remember where Rich has repudiated anything 45 has said or did. Can Rich win without the support of Black’s from Bridgeport? I’m sure that the residents of Trumbull (minus you) appreciate the work ethic and commitment of excellence of Senator Marilyn Moore and her ability to bring home the bacon for them. What, are you Rich’s sister or other family member because I fail to believe that you really believe the garbage the you espouse.

  6. Deecken is more of what you want a Democrat for : no tolls and genuine growth.
    Marilyn Moore’s brand of growth always substitutes debt for growth. She’s never produced benefits in excess of their costs and
    that’s what leadership is all about! She gets money for local projects but not without burdening taxpayers for (20)years to come. That’s called Cosmetic growth.
    Marilyn Moore over promises and under delivers. She’s an agent of debt.

  7. Cindy…………
    Bridgeport’s public schools are funded 100% by taxpayers. Not so for the Witness Project, they also fundraise from the community. You can make a donation on their website if you wish, It’s a great cause.

    1. I give to plenty of great causes, thanks. And punishing teachers, for choosing to work in Bridgeport and just trying to do the right thing, because Bridgeport is so bad at doing business, is not a fair way of looking at things. You’re myopic at best.

  8. Marshall Marcus, fundraising from the community = extracting value from Bridgeport. Despite its good intentions, what could be more un-American than raising funds for a non-profit that receives government aid, too?
    Deecken (R) is a spendthrift.
    He’s more of what you want a Democrat for.


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