In this case keeping it all in the family makes perfect political sense for Norwich.
Emmett D. Riley, director of development at Madonna Place in Norwich, is seeking to win the 46th District House seat vacated by his wife, Rep. Melissa Riley, an attorney who is stepping down after serving five terms. The Riley family has a long history of Democratic politics in Norwich going back generations.
While this husband-for-wife switch is a bit strange (even Bill and Hillary Clinton did not try to pull that one off when President Clinton left office, at least not immediately), we feel Mr. Riley, 43, is the right candidate for Norwich.
As director of development at Madonna Place, which offers support and services to young moms and their families, and works to encourage involvement of fathers, Mr. Riley is well aware of the importance of the many private, non-profit agencies serving Norwich and of their struggles. It is vital that they receive sufficient state support. Coming from a strong Democratic district, located entirely within Norwich, and the wife of a former representative, we would expect Mr. Riley to have more pull in Hartford than the typical freshman. That is critical for the city, which is losing two veteran House members.
But it is not connections alone that make Mr. Riley a good choice. He has made it clear that his top priority will be making sure the city gets its fair share of help from the state. He sees the need to utilize the community college system to retrain workers for available jobs and as a more affordable path to higher education for financially struggling young people. Mr. Riley is a proponent of regionalism and realizes the importance of the southeastern Connecticut delegation working together.
His Republican opponent, Navy veteran Mikel E. Middleton, 61, also is running with the best interests of his community in mind. He too recognizes the importance of training students, and retraining experienced workers, for 21st century jobs. Mr. Middleton is sensitive to the needs of small businesses and wants to seek regulatory and tax relief to help them grow. While not politically experienced, he appears practical and ready to learn.
But by our measure, Mr. Riley is the better choice for this urban district and so endorses Emmett D. Riley for the 46th District House seat.