Kavros DeGraw, Exum announce re-election bids
Editor's Note: This story will be expanded for the Feb. 4 issue of The Valley Press.
By Ted Glanzer
Several local state legislators have announced they are seeking re-election.
Both incumbents who represent Avon, Eleni Kavros DeGraw (D-17th District) and Tammy Exum (D-19th District), announced their intentions to run again.
Kavros DeGraw, an Avon resident whose district includes Canton and a portion of Avon, is finishing her first term in the state House.
“It’s time to continue to be the leader I’ve shown to be the last year,” Kavros DeGraw said, noting she has served during an unprecedented time with COVID-19. “We’re not out of the woods on the pandemic; we’re not out of the woods on a lot of things. We have an improving economy, which I’m excited to see. We have less concerns about what the budget is going to look like in 2024.”
Still, Kavros DeGraw said she will continue to work to improve the lives of residents who may not be the beneficiaries of an improving economy..
“The economy isn’t working for everybody and we need to be laser focused on ensuring the working families and the middle class are able to make it because those are the folks that are struggling in the towns I represent.”
After seeing a recent report on the news, Kavros DeGraw said she is also looking into how modern technology can be used to track people and potential legislation in that space.
“I asked an aide to put in a legislative research request to see if it’s legal to track people in Connecticut without their knowledge,” Kavros DeGraw said. “With my work on domestic violence, that’s a concern.
“We were visiting my daughter recently in Italy, and she received a notice of an unknown device nearby.. We didn’t know what it was, until I just found out on the news [recently]. Someone was trying to track her overseas. … It’s about human trafficking, too.”
Other issues on Kavros DeGraw’s list are expanded tax credits for veterans and parents, as well as children’s mental health and people having access to services they need.
Kavros DeGraw said she believes her constituents have seen the work she has put in during her first term in office as well as her accessibility.
“People appreciate how hard I’ve worked and that I’ve raised the level of communications with our constituents significantly,” she said. “I’ve heard people say they’ve never felt so informed in this district and at the state level. … I represent the 17th District and my job is to be their voice at the Capitol and I would say I’ve done that.
Kavros DeGraw says she believes communications with, and listening to, her constituents - whether it’s a meeting over Zoom, coffee in person or over the phone - make for a better community.
“If I can provide information in a way that’s accessible to people, then that is better for all of us,” she said. “Sometimes someone will see something in an update and say, ‘I don’t quite understand this, can you explain it?’ I love having that opportunity of having that dialog. If we are all better educated as citizens, then our society runs much better.”
That openness is something that she has promised since the moment she ran for office.
“The person I was before I got elected is the same person I am now,” she said. “Accessibility, honesty, and integrity mean something to me and I’m there to serve people.”
Exum, whose district includes a portion of West Hartford, Farmington and Avon, is also running for her second full term - she was elected in a special election in April 2019 to fill the remainder of Derek Slap, who was elected to the state Senate.
Exum was then elected to a full term in November of 2020.
“It has truly been a pleasure to serve during this unprecedented time,” Exum wrote in an announcement on Medium. “Although I’m not certain what is on the horizon, and although I am relatively new to this role, it has only reinforced my belief that those who represent us need to do so with integrity, compassion, morality, and humility. There are many things that I need to learn, but it is my hope that I’ve demonstrated these values, especially at a time such as this.”
Exum noted the pandemic, civil strife as a result of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and the push by Republicans to make voting more restrictive as reasons for why she is running again.
She also noted the attempted coup on Jan. 6, 2021, by supporters of former President Donald Trump as a motivating factor for her desire to return to the state House.
“[J]ust hours after being sworn in for my first full term as a legislator, I watched in disbelief the events that took place at our nation’s Capitol [on Jan. 6, 2021],” she wrote. “It was hard to take in the scene and to make sense of what we were collectively witnessing. It also made plain that it matters, really matters, who represents us and who we want to be, as a community, a town or city, a state, and a nation.”