In 18th state Senate District race, there's nothing but silence
The campaign for the 18th District state Senate seat has been nonexistent.
That's because four-term Democratic incumbent Andrew Maynard remains hospitalized after suffering a serious brain injury in a fall at his Stonington home in July while Republican challenger Kevin Trejo raised no campaign funds and has done little campaigning.
The Oct. 30 debate between the pair was canceled because Maynard "is not at a point in his recovery where he can participate," according to a family spokesman.
Maynard did not respond to The Day's Election Guide questionnaire, which includes three written questions posed to all General Assembly candidates, while Trejo did not answer questions about state employee pensions and the state's new gun law.
Last week, Senate Democrat spokesman Adam Joseph, who has been speaking on behalf of the Maynard family, again denied a request by The Day to interview Maynard. When asked last week if the family would be issuing any further statements about Maynard, Joseph said the family would like to stand by its Oct. 14 update of his condition. Editor's note: This corrects an earlier version of the previous sentence. Maynard's family has also denied a request by The Day to interview his doctor and therapists, saying his medical condition was a private matter.
On Oct. 14, his family released a statement that said it is their "genuine belief" that given the progress Maynard has made he would remain in the race and be ready to serve when the legislative session begins on Jan. 7, 2015. He has been unable to serve as a senator since July and has been undergoing therapy at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain.
The family said it is "optimistic about his ability for a full recovery" even though he still has challenges when it comes to his speech, which it said is consistent with his injury.
In its statement, the family said they have found themselves in the "difficult and unenviable position of not only overseeing and making decisions regarding our brother's care, but also having to make decisions regarding his career. Our overriding concern is his health. Andrew's career is of the utmost importance to him, so it becomes an important concern to us. We have tried to make these decisions with a single question in mind: What would he do were he able to make these decisions? We know from past experience that his primary concern has been 'to faithfully discharge' his duties as a State Senator with transparency and integrity on behalf of his district. We admittedly are not qualified to make decisions as he would, so our approach has been to do no harm as we work toward getting him back to a position of making decisions for himself, at the same time giving voters sufficient information to make their decisions in the absence of his ability to participate in the campaign process."
The family acknowledged "there is understandably concern" about Maynard's ability to carry out his duties and they share that concern.
"More than anyone, we do not want to see him in a role that he is unable to carry out, no matter what benefits may accrue to him for doing so. The position of State Senator is intended to be part-time, with a session that does not begin for over two months. It is our genuine belief that given the progress over the last two months Andrew will be ready to serve when the session begins."
If Maynard defeats Trejo on Nov. 4 but then decides he is unable to serve, there would be a special election in the eight district towns to fill his seat. The towns of Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington and Voluntown would have to expend funds for ballots, poll workers and other costs involved in an election. In the case of Maynard's hometown of Stonington the cost would be about $14,000.
"Our hope is to let the voters decide if they want to give him another term, and at the same time give our brother the chance to decide whether or not he chooses to carry out his duties if elected," said the family.
Maynard needs to complete one more term to be eligible for early retirement, reduced pension and medical benefits, at age 55, according to rules that apply to all state employees. His seven years of service makes him eligible for a full pension once he turns 65.
During his current term, Maynard cast what he called "the most challenging vote of his legislative career" when he opposed the Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety Act" passed in wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.
Maynard said he talked to constituents who told him to vote against the bill. He cited flaws in the procedure of passing the bill and its difficult implementation and said it made law-abiding gun owners feel as though they are a threat that needs to be monitored.
Trejo said he has traveled to the district towns and talked to people on the phone about the election but has done no other campaigning.
If elected, he said his priority would be to work on education, mental health and environmental issues, all of which he has worked on in the past as part of local groups and committees.
He said he is especially interested in providing early childhood education so all children start school on an even playing field.
If elected, he said he would talk to the mayors and first selectmen in the eight communities to see what issues are important to them instead of going to them with his own ideas.
Trejo, who recovered from heart surgery this spring, also reiterated his position that he would not discuss Maynard's health status and whether he should be running.
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