STRATFORD, Conn. — For Connecticut’s bleak economic picture to improve, it needs vision, experience and leadership from state lawmakers, especially in some key communities.
Stratford’s Laura Hoydick is a state representative who could have a significant voice in shaping the state’s economic future. The Republican was elected to her fifth term to represent the 120th District in November. She is also beginning her second term as the executive director of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce.
- Who : Laura Hoydick, Stratford
- What : State House of Representative member; Executive Director of Stratford Chamber of Commerce
- Did you know? Hoydick won a fifth term in the State House in November, and she is serving her second stint as the Executive Director of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce
Stratford itself could be one of the economic engines that drives the state’s recovery as it seeks to trim its deficit, which was reported at $1.3 billion in January. With its proximity to major thoroughfares and Metro-North, an airport, lower tax base, and housing prices that are generally more affordable than homes in Lower Fairfield County -- and a dedicated legislator -- Stratford has the potential to become a driver in helping the state solve its challenging economic situation, she said.
“One of my priorities will be to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order,’’ Hoydick said about her goals for this term. “Having deficits like we’ve had in the past several years has not helped. We have to get our pension obligations under control and we need to stop growing the debt and financing it.”
Hoydick said the current legislative makeup might provide the best opportunity in recent years to create bipartisan solutions. The 36-seat state Senate makeup is equally divided. Democrats hold a slim house majority, 79-72.
She was appointed the Deputy House Republican Leader at large by Themis Klarides and wants to work with other legislators to develop solutions to the state’s financial crisis.
“The people of Connecticut have talked about what they want to happen,’’ Hoydick said. “There is a closing of the gap between Republicans and Democrats. It’s a strong opportunity to work together. We have to keep our eye on the prize of righting Connecticut from an economic standpoint. We need to be aware of what’s happening nationally, but focus on what we’re doing locally.”
Toward that end, Hoydick will wear her hat with the Chamber of Commerce. Working with Stratford’s Director of Economic Development, Mary Dean, she aims to help and grow the town’s business community.
“I like doing things that make the economy better,’’ Hoydick said. “Not just in Stratford, but the region. We’re lucky to have a good mix in Stratford. We have a good representation of manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and service industries. I like being able to have access to these business owners and understand what’s important to them to make the region and Stratford better.”
There has been no stronger advocate for Stratford, especially its business community, over the past two decades than Hoydick. A Stratford native, she got her political start with a seat on the Board of Education. She served for seven years, including four as chairwoman. She also worked as a commercial property manager with an office in Stratford and started working part-time at the Chamber of Commerce in 2003. She left the Chamber to take a full-time position with Winstanley Enterprises and then won her first seat in the state legislature in 2010.
“The last time I worked on the Chamber there was a lot of focus on transportation,’’ Hoydick said. “Improving the area and providing a full interchange at Exit 33 of I-95 was a big goal. Transportation is critically important to the vitality of the region. We need adequate parking at the train station and to expand the northbound platforms and add canopies. Some things don’t happen overnight. You have to stick to it.”
Hoydick also has volunteered for a number of agencies in Stratford. She had prominent roles in several school organizations and has devoted time to Sterling House Community Center, the Greater Bridgeport Ameri-Corp National Service Program, the Stratford Partnership for Youth and Families, Perry House and Our Lady of Grace Church.
Hoydick said she has volunteered for community causes since she was 12 years old. She’s doing her best to represent her Stratford neighbors in her role as a state legislator and considers it a privilege to do so.
“It makes me feel pretty lucky to be able to pay it forward,’’ she said. “Whenever somebody calls you for help or stops you on the street, it’s the best feeling. When there’s not anything you can do, that’s the worst feeling. I just keep trying to do my best for everyone.”