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Maynard 'deserves the benefit of the doubt,' Simmons says

Stonington — There's just one political sign in front of the North Main Street home of former Republican congressman Rob Simmons.

It's for Democratic 18th District state Sen. Andrew Maynard, who has been unable to serve since suffering a serious brain injury in a July fall at his home here.

While it is unclear whether Maynard will recover enough to carry out his duties when the legislative session begins Jan. 7, Simmons said Tuesday that that is not stopping him from supporting his longtime friend from the other party. Maynard's family, which has not allowed The Day to interview Maynard or talk to his doctors or therapists, said on Oct. 17 it is their "genuine belief" he will be ready to serve. Simmons said the lack of information does not bother him.

"Andy is not a stranger to me. I know who he is. He's a good person with a good heart. From my perspective he deserves the benefit of the doubt," Simmons said.

He pointed out that Maynard's legislative aide has been able to handle constituent issues for the senator and if he does defeat Republican Kevin Trejo of Groton on Tuesday, there will be plenty of time for him to continue his recovery before the session begins.

Simmons said he and his family have known Maynard since long before he was a state senator and even before he served as Stonington borough warden two decades ago. It was Maynard who introduced Simmons' daughter to her now husband.

"In my opinion he's been a good state senator. He's constantly available, shows leadership and shows independence," Simmons said.

He said that it was Maynard who questioned Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's report of a budget surplus and "when his party tried to ram the gun bill through the legislature (after the Sandy Hook shootings) without a public hearing, Andy objected and voted against it. In my opinion Andy has been a good independent senator."

If Maynard is re-elected to his fifth term and then decides he cannot fulfill his duties and steps down, a special election would be held to choose someone to serve the remainder of his two-year term.

Simmons said he is not concerned about the cost of a special election to each of the towns in the 18th District. For example, it would cost Stonington $14,000 to hold such an election and Groton about $23,000.

"Democracy has a price. It's the price of freedom," he said. "We could cancel out the cost by having a dictatorship."

Simmons, who is serving as a selectman, may face a special election of his own next year, as both he and Democratic Selectman George Crouse have said they want serve the remainder of the term of Democratic First Selectman Ed Haberek, who is resigning on Nov. 30.

j.wojtas@theday.com

Twitter: @joewojtas

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