Senator Murphy gets 'dirty details' from 'real people'

By:  Adam benson
The Norwich Bulletin

NORWICH — After a day full of engagements throughout Connecticut Thursday, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy’s brief Norwich stop was tightly planned.

But after Murphy met city resident Kelly Patterson aboard a Southeast Area Transit District bus and learned of problems her children were experiencing in school, the Democrat rode past his stop to learn more.

“It’s nice to see him taking an interest in people who can’t even afford transportation,” Patterson said when the conversation ended. “This is where you hear all the dirty details.”

Constituent outreach through public transit is a strategy Murphy frequently uses during breaks from Washington, D.C., and he spent about 45 minutes riding the busy West Main Street corridor to speak with people on issues like the economy, health care and the region’s opioid epidemic.

Murphy was picked up at a stop near Shop Rite at Marcus Plaza.

“You talk to real people on these buses, and it’s a nice reminder that the issues that matter don’t change,” Murphy said. “It’s good jobs, it’s public safety, it’s schools and it's housing.”

This week’s form of transportation put Murphy in a much different setting than last weekend, when he spent two days aboard a Connecticut-made Los Angeles-class submarine carrying out operations in the arctic.
That was in Murphy’s capacity as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He also sits on the chamber’s committee on health, education, labor and pensions – topics that came up several times during his swing through Norwich.

“There’s not a lot of surprises. People are going to talk about housing being too expensive and the streets not being safe enough,” he said. “I pay attention to all the letters and phone calls I get, but 90 percent of people in Connecticut never contact my office. And so if you’re doing the job right, you have to be proactive about going to people where they are, and that’s what this is about.”

Norwich Mayor Deb Hinchey accompanied Murphy on the ride, and was able to speak with residents about several problems that came up, like the condition of city roads.

Anthony Montanez, of Norwich, told Murphy he was worried about the spike in heroin use that has plagued the area after the men touched on immigration and the presidential race.

“It’s good to see somebody from Washington come to town to see what people really need,” Montanez said.

Mike Jobino, of Norwich, spoke to Murphy about the economy and local job market.
“I think there’s plenty of jobs in Norwich,” he said.

After Murphy departed, Jobino said he was impressed by the conversation.

“It’s cool. It’s good of him to get out and the people like this,” he said.