As we continue to work our way through the life-changing COVID-19 virus, we wonder what will be the new normal; will we ever be normal again? I, for one, hope not.

While challenging, this time has given us the opportunity to reflect on the many things in society that need work, as well as issues within the state that we should look into deeper.

Though the state capitol has been closed since March, my workload as the representative for northernmost Ridgefield, western Danbury and some of New Fairfield has only grown. On an average day, I spend over four hours dealing with constituent issues and hearing how the pandemic has affected your lives.

The lengthy delays in processing unemployment claims show the urgent need to revamp our unemployment system, which runs on an outdated computer platform. Manpower shortages are also an issue. The argument of cost-cutting our way out of a problem has shown that approach only works so far in times of need. We should be able to support and protect our residents. Though all of our state’s departments have gone over and above, I believe they need more support and modernization to ensure we do better going forward.

As we continue to open up the state, I do have to commend Gov. Lamont for his leadership during these challenging times. The many decisions that he had to make were difficult, but compared to other states, we are doing extremely well. Though our state has taken a financial hit, we are projected to be number 7 out of the 50 states to come out of the COVID-19 shutdown in a solid position. That is evident through the strong demand for Connecticut bonds on Wall Street. The last bond sale sold out in less than an hour!

So with all this good news, when do we get to open 100 percent? That is anyone’s guess. If the COVID-19 numbers continue to go in the right direction, it will be sooner rather than later, but we need to be both proactive and smart. We still need to work together and do what is best for all of society with a gradual phase-in.

We are hoping that the legislature will be able to go back to Hartford for a special session in July. I cannot think of anything more important than ensuring the fundamental right of all people to vote, and to vote without risking their health in November. It is not only a right, but our civic responsibility to do so. We have all seen in the news how other states have dealt with this issue, only to have the virus spike again due to in-person voting in enclosed spaces. In the upcoming special session, I expect to see a vote by mail or an absentee ballot measure, which I will fully support. We must not let the virus win. We need to ensure both the safety of voters and the ability to exercise the right to vote.

The 138th Assembly District, represented by Ken Gucker, includes that part of Ridgefield north of George Washington Highway and Canterbury Lane, as well as portions of Danbury and New Fairfield.