Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives Matt Ritter discussed issues of politics, citizenship, and community engagement with more than 50 members of the Loomis Chaffee community on Monday, February 8.
The questions-and-answer session was organized by juniors Kunal Kothari and Karan Kothari through Loomis Chaffee’s Community Engagement Program.
Mr. Ritter spoke about his role in Connecticut government and talked about some of the differences between federal, local, and state governments.
“The ability to influence legislation … [and] champion a cause or an issue is much easier at the state level than in Congress,” he said.
A longtime Hartford resident and lawyer by profession, Mr. Ritter, a Democrat, said he liked working in state government because he could serve his local community and live in Hartford with his family, rather than frequently travel to or live in Washington, D.C., as he would if he served in federal government.
In his exchange with students and faculty via Zoom videoconference, Mr. Ritter answered questions about partisanship in state government, the state’s response to COVID-19, election funding in Connecticut, issues of race and equity in policing, and ways that students under the age of 18 can influence legislation and advocate for change.
Mr. Ritter encouraged students to contact their local and state government representatives and said most want to see young people engaged and learning about being responsible citizens.
When communicating with legislators, he advised, “Do your homework. Know your issue. … You might be surprised how responsive they are.”
The forum was co-sponsored by the Student Council, Young Democrats, the Shultz Fellows, and the Norton Family Center for the Common Good.
Connect to the Norton Family Center webpage for more information on Loomis' community engagement programming.