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Housing, EB and more are the issues that concern Eastern CT during Senator Murphy's walk

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It is an election year and many issues are on the minds of Norwich residents.

Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D) visited Norwich as part of his eighth annual walk across the state. This year's walk began in Suffield near the Massachusetts border and ends near Stonington, he said Wednesday.

This is Murphy's second visit to Norwich during his walk. During his visit, Murphy stopped at the Slater Museum and listened to residents' opinions on numerous issues, from support for Ukraine to gun policy, Electric Boat and presidential politics, he said.

Voter issues

One person Murphy spoke to earlier on the walk had recently been hired at Electric Boat, but said it took too long to get a security clearance. This reminded Murphy to push for speeding up security clearances for job applicants, Murphy said.

“He wasn't a particularly political guy, but he enjoyed talking to me,” he said.

Another person brought up gun policy. While this person isn't against universal background checks, he doesn't want the state to ban assault rifles, which Murphy said isn't an uncommon stance on the issue in this part of the state.

Murphy wants to take two things with him to Washington: The “theatrics” surrounding Donald Trump's trial are not important to people in Connecticut, and there is a need to create and fund affordable housing. Earlier, Murphy spoke with a man in Willimantic who receives $900 a month on welfare but spends $700 on rent for a one-bedroom apartment, Murphy said.

“The housing crisis in Connecticut is getting worse,” he said. “Connecticut residents are finding it increasingly difficult to afford rent and buy their first home.”

More affordable housing will contribute to Norwich's redevelopment and the city's continued growth, both as EB attracts workers and as New Yorkers move east, Murphy said.

“We need renovation money here,” he said. “Many of these old buildings can be converted into housing, but that will require some government incentives.”

Talk to people

After speaking with Murphy outside Norwich City Hall, The Bulletin continued his walk. One of the people he spoke to was local resident Lamar Clay. He is concerned about people who do not vote. In the last election, some of his friends believed the election was rigged and stayed home instead of voting, Clay said.

“I know every vote counts. It wasn't rigged,” he said.

Murphy urged Clay to resist this portrayal.

“We need to do a better job of explaining to people that everyone’s vote counts,” Murphy said.

Another resident, Hilarry Sylvain, shared her concerns about finding medical resources for her 3-year-old son, who has a rare diagnosis. It was “refreshing” to speak directly with an elected official, she said.

“It’s nice to see them out in the real world, talking to people,” Sylvain said.

Clay also enjoyed seeing an elected official interact with ordinary people.

“He doesn't just talk, he walks,” he said. “He is available to us.”

Anna Harden

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