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Democratic voters in the 20th Senatorial District face a tough choice Aug. 12 between two quality candidates vying to replace a fellow Democrat, retiring state Sen. Andrea Stillman.
The endorsed candidate in the race is state Rep. Betsy Ritter, a Waterford resident who is leaving the 38th Assembly District seat she has held since 2004 to make her Senate bid. Frankly, we question whether Rep. Ritter could have served the region better by staying in the House of Representatives, where she has moved through the leadership ranks to the position of Deputy Speaker.
However, she certainly has the credentials to make a state Senate bid. Prior to becoming deputy speaker, Rep. Ritter served as House chairwoman of the Committee on Public Health. In that position she earned a reputation as a strong advocate for public health and human services issues. Before passage of the federal Affordable Care Act, Rep. Ritter worked on enactment of state programs to reduce the ranks of the uninsured.
Rep. Ritter also has a strong record of constituent service.
Her challenger is William "Bill" Satti, currently chairman of the Democratic Town Committee in New London. Mr. Satti has long been active in the local political scene, both as an elected official - serving on the New London Board of Education, on the City Council, including as ceremonial mayor - and as a behind-the-scenes campaign organizer.
Both are bedrock Democrats. Both have areas that concern us.
Mr. Satti is director of public affairs for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest. Yet Mr. Satti is not a lobbyist for the tribe, only a spokesman, and has agreed to recuse himself from voting on any bills involving tribal issues.
Rep. Ritter, in our estimation, has not been aggressive enough in advocating for the interests of the region. In particular, we would have expected more involvement in working for the redevelopment of the former Seaside Regional Center property in Waterford.
Based on our assessments, Mr. Satti strikes as having the potential to be the stronger candidate in the general election and the more aggressive advocate for the region in Hartford. He seems on fire for the job and the challenge, a level of passion we do not detect in Rep. Ritter.
The winner of the primary will go on to face a formidable Republican candidate, East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica. The disttrict includes Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford
The Day endorses Bill Satti in the Aug. 12 primary.