In the midst of election season, it can be hard to tell the difference between one candidate and another, especially at the state and local level. We all want the same things: Fair taxes, great schools, and a thriving local economy where everyone has a high quality of life, from our children to our seniors.

However, in the 134th District race for State Representative, the choice could not be more clear. In this race, Ashley Gaudiano has my vote.

As a mother of four children that all attend our public schools, I need a candidate who supports a strong public education system. Ashley received the “honor roll designation” from the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), proving that she is a champion of students, teachers, and public education. Her opponent, Laura Devlin, received a “D” rating.

I also want a representative who is committed to building a community that works for everyone. Ashley is optimistic about our state’s future and I know she will fight tirelessly to ensure Connecticut remains a great place to live. However, if you read any of Laura Devlin’s speeches, she makes it sound like Connecticut is a terrible place to live because we pay “high” taxes, calling it “shameful.”

Well, I used to live in the Midwest where kindergarten classes are 28 students per class and taxes were far higher. There is nothing shameful about our state and when I hear someone speak down on my home, I take it personally.

Our State Representative should also be someone who is extremely responsive and listens to the voices of every constituent. During her campaign, Ashley has proven herself to be someone who will work tirelessly for us. She has knocked on thousands of doors and met with residents from families with disabilities, to seniors, to high school students concerned about school safety. I’ve contacted Laura Devlin on more than one occasion with a question on an issue and never received any response. And I have heard from others they had the same experience.

Lastly, our candidates should be clear about their values. When I voted during the primary, I saw Laura Devlin standing outside the polls holding a Tim Herbst for Governor sign. His ultra-conservative campaign earned the strongest support of the gun lobby and was the only one to secure an endorsement from Conservative Family Institute, which is anti-gay marriage and anti-choice. With far more moderate candidates in a five-way race, seeing who she backed for governor was quite alarming.

For all these reasons and more, I am choosing to vote for new leadership in the 134th District. Ashley Gaudiano will make an excellent State Representative and I hope you will join me in voting for her on Nov. 6.

Kelly Mallozzi