26th District Senator Will Haskell: Bedford’s Voice in Hartford

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Bedford alumnus and 26th District State Senator Will Haskell wants to see more young people involved in the democratic process.

Will Boberski, Staff Writer

On Nov. 3rd, Westporters voted on more than just the presidential election. 

As Westport’s many yard signs showed, multiple 2020 races were important to Westporters, including the 26th State Senate District race between Democratic incumbent Will Haskell and Republican/Independent challenger Kim Healy. 

The structure of the Connecticut state legislature mirrors the federal government. Connecticut voters elect senators and representatives for their district to Connecticut’s bicameral General Assembly. Depending on where they live, Westporters elect legislators for the 26th or 28th State Senate Districts. In this year’s election, Senator Haskell won reelection to a second term in Hartford. At age 24, he is the youngest member of the General Assembly. In 2020, he was named one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” Law and Policy leaders. Ursus recently got the chance to sit down with Senator Haskell to discuss Connecticut, COVID-19 and cookies.

As a former Bedford student, Senator Haskell recalls the after-school theater group with Ms. McCormick, rushing to not be late for PE, and when the cafeteria first sold cookies. “I thought that was the best thing in the world,” he says of the cafeteria’s cookies.

Senator Haskell attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C. after graduating from Staples. While still a senior at Georgetown, he launched a 2018 campaign for Connecticut State Senate. Endorsed by former President Barack Obama, Senator Haskell defeated longtime Republican State Senator Toni Boucher.

To Senator Haskell, his relatively young age is an advantage. “Frankly,” he says, “baby boomers, they’re over-represented in the meeting rooms and in the legislature.” Connecticut’s General Assembly makes decisions that will impact young people in Connecticut for years to come. Why, asks Senator Haskell, aren’t young people given a seat at the table? Senator Haskell continues, “I’ve got an opportunity not just to represent and give a voice to the 100,000 people in my district, but now I also have an opportunity to try to represent all of the young people who don’t currently have a seat at the table. I want to get more young people involved, and I really love having the opportunity to do so as a young elected official.” 

During his first term, Senator Haskell fought “to lower the cost of higher education, enact common-sense gun regulations and invest in transportation improvements for Fairfield County,” according to his website. He also dealt with issues like police accountability, environmental degradation, accessible healthcare, opioid abuse and small business viability.

Although these issues are still important in 2020, Senator Haskell also recognizes the current need to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on healthcare and the economy. He states, “Connecticut has saved lives by making really difficult decisions, sometimes decisions that are politically unpopular.” Senator Haskell continues, “We all have to assume some responsibility and make sure that we can turn the trend around.” In his perspective, “If we make those decisions now, if we brave those short-term losses, then the long-term gain of being able to turn the page and begin the next chapter a little bit sooner I think is well worth it.” He urges the Bedford community to remain mindful of their role in preventing the spread of the virus in their community and encourages Westporters to support small businesses by shopping local this holiday season.

Despite the immense challenges facing Connecticut, Senator Will Haskell remains optimistic about the future. He encourages Westporters to reach out to him and his team with comments, criticism or questions. “I really love this job,” says Senator Haskell. “Every two year term is a remarkable opportunity … to continue serving the community, and I really want to do a good job.”