The controversial land swap in Haddam, which made international news thanks to the , would exchange the state-owned 17 acres overlooking the Connecticut River with forest land owned by a , property that abuts the Cockaponset State Forest across town in Higganum.
During the contentious debate over this issue several local and state officials took a stand on legislation that cleared the way for the land swap, a bill that was eventually passed by the state legislature and signed into by the governor. Others declined making a public statement on the issue.
Several organizations and groups of private citizens have banded together to try and stop the swap in any way they can. Various tactics have included , and attempting to garner support from electoral candidates in exchange for backing them for office.
Recently, Citizens for the Protection of Public Lands (CPPL) issued a monthly that detailed which local candidates they were willing to endorse based on the candidates' stand on the land swap.
But, did those tactics work? In what way did the opinion of the local candidates on the land swap issue impact the voters’ decisions at the polls, if at all?
In East Haddam, first selectman candidate Rob Smith (D), has been a huge driving force and vocal opponent of the swap. Yet, he was overwhelmingly defeated at the Tuesday incumbent First Selectman Mark Walter, who initially appeared to support the land swap.
Walter, made waves with local swap opponents when he in a legislative committee earlier this year in support of the land swap proponents’ efforts to improve Tylerville. He later clarified his position, however, and said his testimony was not intended to support the land swap itself, but rather the economic development that could generate additional tourism in the region. Was Walter’s stance on the issue made clear to the voters?
In Haddam, Repubicaln First Selectman Paul J. DeStefano, came under fire when he publicly supported the land swap. DeStefano’s opponent in Tuesday’s election, Democrat , took no public stand on the issue. Still, DeStefano swept the election.
State Sen. Eileen M. , a prominent and longtime Senate Democrat who proposed the land swap, has staunchy defended the proposal and has drawn the wrath of environmental groups across the state, groups that historically have been on friendly terms with Daily. State Rep. Phil , D-Essex, has vehemently opposed the swap, closely aligning himself with opposition groups. Those positions could have serious implications for both politicians if and when they seek re-election.
What do you think?