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Osten busy on morning after election

By Claire Bessette

Publication: theday.com

Published November 07. 2012 2:00PM   Updated November 08. 2012 12:07AM

New 19th District state Sen.-elect Cathy Osten likes to multitask.

She had a day of it Wednesday after the five-year Democratic Sprague first selectman defeated Republican state Rep. Christopher Coutu for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring 18-year veteran Democrat Edith Prague.

Before even answering the nearly 100 congratulatory calls and emails on her victory Wednesday morning, Osten had to get her town ready for a second storm that could bring power outages and wind damage to areas not a week recovered from Hurricane Sandy.

Calls came from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and other top Democratic dignitaries starting late Tuesday and running throughout Wednesday. Town officials and local supporters stopped by her office at Sprague Town Hall to mix storm preparation with best wishes for the upcoming Senate session.

And then Democratic state Senate President Donald Williams called to say the party's first Senate caucus will be at 11:30 a.m. today in Hartford.

"It's been like this all morning," Osten said. "I had to let Don Williams go so I could talk to my daughter. I haven't even had time to talk to my family."

Osten has several priorities in Hartford, including job creation and making sure the many small businesses in the 10-town 19th Senate District know the provisions in the bipartisan jobs bill approved in spring that could benefit them.

She hasn't yet decided whether she will seek re-election to her first selectman seat, but Osten said she will at least retain the seat until the fall 2013 election.

"I would not leave before the end of my term next fall," Osten, a retired state correction officer, said. "That's as much as I've decided on that. I want to see how the session goes, assess it and make the decision. I've always worked two and three jobs."

Before the coming legislative session starts, Osten plans to meet with town officials in the district towns to find out what they need in Hartford and how to help them. She hopes to do the same with local chambers of commerce and business owners.

One likely topic of discussion will be storm response.

Osten was a member of the state's Two Storm Panel that dissected utilities' controversial response to Tropical Storm Irene last year. She said she doesn't think the panel needs to meet again, but the plan should be reviewed to see how the various components worked during and after Hurricane Sandy.

For example, Osten said the discussion of service restoration should be only for major power utilities. She hopes to include telephone and cable TV companies in the conversations as well, because they are vital links in the communication network during and after a storm.

c.bessette@theday.com

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