State Rep. Hurlburt opens channels of communication with constituents

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Ashford - posted Fri., Feb. 18, 2011
State Rep. Bryan Hurlburt and Ashford resident Nord Yakovleff discuss an issue during Hurlburt’s Feb. 9 office hours in Ashford. Photos by Lauri Voter.
State Rep. Bryan Hurlburt and Ashford resident Nord Yakovleff discuss an issue during Hurlburt’s Feb. 9 office hours in Ashford. Photos by Lauri Voter.

State Rep. Bryan Hurlburt (D-53rd District) wants to hear from his constituents.

In essence, his policy towards residents of Ashford, Tolland and Willington – whom he represents in the Connecticut General Assembly - is “open-door,” and when that door opens, the conversation can cover quite a wide range.

During Hurlburt’s open office hours at Ashford Town Hall on Feb. 9, discussions ran the gamut from hunting to fishing, to legislation and bike trails, ultimately winding down on the topic of educational administration.

Early on, Hurlburt eagerly talked about an upcoming event he would attend at the Eastern Connecticut Sportsman’s Club in Ashford.

“I am not a sportsman, but given the district that I represent, I am knowledgeable about sportmen’s issues and very supportive of them,” he said.

Along this vein, Hurlburt said that he is not opposed to hunting or gun ownership, and he recognizes that gun laws affect the law-abiding citizens who own them.

“We are different than a Hartford or a Bridgeport, and responsible gun owners who act within the law deserve the support of the law. Illegal gun owners that operate outside of the law are already acting illegally. We can’t make it more illegal for them – we can stiffen the penalty, but it’s already illegal,” he said.

Hurlburt feels that the Connecticut legislature tries to be fair when creating laws.

“The challenge of drafting legislation is to make sure that it protects the innocent and opposes the bad guys. It’s not supposed to harm everybody - it’s supposed to go after the bad actors.”

Hurlburt explained that people often approach him a few weeks after a law is passed to describe what they feel are flaws in that legislation, but by then, it is too late to fix it.

“Democracy is not perfect,” said Hurlburt, describing the process as one by which legislators attempt, each year, to subsequently adjust existing laws based on issues that are brought to their attention by citizens.

“Every year, you come back and tweak and make it better, you try to make sure you are consistent with its intent, and you have something that hopefully protects the innocent, that provides them with what they need, and is a strong enough measure to go after the bad guys,” explained Hurlburt.

However, before he can address an issue, Hurlburt says he has to know about it first.

“I think our system works best, and our legislature works best, when there is constant communication between members of the public and their elected officials,” he said.

To this end, Hurlburt stated that he launched a Facebook page, “so that people would have an opportunity to reach out to me.”

He encourages resident to stop by at his scheduled office hours, but also says that he can be reached by e-mail at, through Facebook, or even contacted at home at 860-454-8002.

“If people take time out of their day to contact me, I’m going to get back to them,” said Hurlburt, who feels that citizens should also be able to communicate as freely at the local level – referring to boards of education, finance and other local entities. He acknowledges that not all citizens view issues from the same perspective and not everyone has the same experiences.

Some of Hurlburt’s constituents understand the face-to-face value of office hours. On Feb. 9, Ashford resident Nord Yakovleff dropped by to talk about obtaining state funds to create bike paths in the Ashford area. After hearing that state monies had been allocated for that purpose, Yakovleff came to office hours seeking confirmation of that information, and suggested that Ashford should set its sights on becoming more bike-friendly.

After that discussion, Hurlburt made some notes and told Yakovleff he would look into it and then respond.

Ashford First Selectman Ralph H. Fletcher also stopped by to join in the conversation, which closed on the topic of educational administration.

Hurlburt emphasized, “I can’t fix a problem that I don’t know about. That’s why these office hours, e-mails [and], phone calls are so very important to the job I do, so that I can find out about the problems and get to work on fixing them.”

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