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Secretary of the State tours Kent businesses


KENT—Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas toured Kent Monday afternoon, meeting with business leaders and town officials, speaking about how they can do their part to help spread civic education. 

The House of Books was among the businesses visited by Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas during her visit to Kent Monday. Photo by Kathryn Boughton

She came to Kent after visits to Sherman in the morning, where she spoke with seventh and eighth graders about the importance of civic engagement, and Cornwall, where she made a presentation to Cornwall Consolidated School for its efforts to incorporate civics into its curriculum.

She said that Kent is unusual in the number of businesses and organizations that have signed onto the Secretary’s Civically Engaged Organizations (CEO) program. A CEO is a business or non-profit organizations that commits to being civically engaged, either through active participation in the local community or by helping to broaden public and employee civic awareness.

Kent News Inc, parent company of the Kent Good Times Dispatch, is a CEO and its president, Karen Chase, helped to organize the tour.

She started her tour at Wilson’s Cafe, where she spoke with First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer and High Watch Recovery Center Vice President for Operations Brendan Miller, about High Watch’s participation in town affairs, followed by a visit to the House of Books, and 45 on Main. 

Thomas said her office is “working to change the culture” and added that many people do not become engaged in their communities because “they trust the people they voted for” to make decisions for them. 

She said she will used the Voters Guide created by Kent News, Inc. as one of her blueprints when she creates her own online guide for voters. “People have much more interest in something like that then just a profile of candidates,” she said.

Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas speaks to High Watch Recovery Center Vice President of Operations Brendan Miller during her visit to Kent Monday. They met at Wilson’s, a business run by High Watch. Photo by Kathryn Boughton

She reported that when she engaged in her own “door-knocking campaign” she heard repeated complaints from voters that there was no place to go for comprehensive information voting information. She also reported a remarkable lack of awareness in the voting constituency about her role in the government.

“When I asked people what the Secretary of the State does, only one in 10 had any idea,” she said. 

In fact, the Secretary’s office has wide-ranging interaction with the business community, filing and maintains legally required records related business entities and well as administering and implementing all state and federal laws pertaining to elections, primaries, nominating procedures and the like.

After visiting the businesses, the group retired to Town Hall, where Thomas met with Democratic Registrar of Voters Therese Duncan and Town Clerk Darlene Brady. They discussed upcoming changes voter registration and early voting. 

Kathryn Boughton
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