December 1, 2017 Print

Harwinton First Selectman Michael Criss, Director of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments Francis Pickering, and head of the American City County Exchange Jon Russell debate the push for regionalism vs. local government control in Connecticut.

Local solutions to local challenges often are much more effective than directives from more distant government bodies. The Yankee Institute for Public Policy’s Keep it Local Summit on September 30 brought together more than 100 policy experts, mayors, state lawmakers, local elected officials, candidates for public office, business leaders, and concerned citizens to discuss the important issues that Connecticut faces and formulate ways to solve them from the local level. The summit was covered by Connecticut’s top political news outlets, Fox61 News and CT News Junkie.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Manhattan Institute Scholar Stephen Eide, and Dr. Jonathan Wharton discuss the future of Connecticut's cities.

"The true success of Keep It Local was in bringing together state and local leaders of all political stripes, getting them in the same room and talking about the challenges facing Connecticut's municipalities and the future of local leadership in Connecticut,” said Joe Horvath, Yankee Institute’s director of legislative outreach.

The participants of the daylong event had the opportunity to listen to impactful presenters speak to the value and strengths of local governments in addressing local problems. An especially prominent issue discussed at the summit was Connecticut’s state budget crisis, which brought a focus to how the crisis impacts communities at the local level.

Former Mayor of San Jose and keynote speaker, Chuck Reed, addresses the audience during lunch.

“Local leaders are faced with cuts in state government funding due to Connecticut's continuing budget crises,” Horvath continued. “There's no longer enough money to go around and everyone is having to do more with less. At Keep it Local we had mayors of Connecticut's biggest cities and First Selectmen from some of its small towns, as well as policy experts, concerned citizens and state lawmakers there to share information, ideas and concerns about the future of local government in our state. Everything from education to shared services and labor reform was on the table for discussion and I think everyone came out the better for it."

The Keep it Local Summit, with the support of the Leadership Institute, also hosted educational seminars for potential political candidates who seek to limit government intervention and enhance freedom. The four sessions – “Are You Ready to Run?,” “Campaign Strategy,” “Communication Strategy,” and “Grassroots Lobbying” – provided the participants valuable information to position them for future success.

Former Mayor of San Jose and keynote speaker, Chuck Reed, addresses the audience during lunch.

The Yankee Institute understands that the best knowledge to solve local issues is not at the federal or even state level, but held within the local citizenry. The Keep it Local Summit showed how active citizens can influence how local issues are addressed and provided tools for current and future local leaders throughout the state.

Yankee Institute for Public Policy was a recipient of a project grant to help fund the Keep it Local Summit.