In a tragedy 8 years ago that shook the town of Simsbury, I lost my 18 year old brother Rob to an overdose on Oxymorphone the morning after his graduation party. My brother’s tragedy made the 11:00 news on NBC. The support we received from the town was so overwhelming, the wake lasted a day and a half, with lines constantly streaming out the door. To honor my brother’s life and to give back to the town which had given us so much, we created a scholarship at Simsbury High School, awarded to 2–3 seniors per year who demonstrated social courage and academic growth throughout high school. As a part of our fundraising eﬀorts, we held the “Sunshine Serio Music Festival” at the local Simsbury bandshell.
Around 11:00 AM on October 3rd, 2017 I was sitting in Simsbury United Methodist church, attending the funeral of Gordon Ives who had passed away two weeks earlier after losing his battle with heroin addiction. Sitting only a few pews from where I last said goodbye to my brother, I looked up at Gordon, and I thought of all the friends and family I’d seen leave us unexpectedly. I asked myself, “Who will speak for them”? Since my brother’s death, I had waited for the local response to the crescendoing opioid epidemic that is continuing to kill my peers left and right.
Mary Glassman was First Selectman in Simsbury at the time of my brother’s death, but I never heard much from her administration on this pressing crisis. Though, they were sure to remind us of the beautiful bike paths they built. That’s because Mary represents the same status quo which has been failing our families for years — a shameful status quo which belongs to the establishment on both sides of the aisle. Mary’s platform in her primary campaign in the Fifth Congressional District trumpets her defense of the status quo, calling to “protect the important gains made in the ACA”, rather than having the moral fortitude and political leadership to unabashedly take on the rapacious pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies by supporting Medicare For All.
When pressed on Medicare For All, Mary contests that she’s “balanced 16 budgets and you have to pay for it”. However, I reject her premise; budgets are moral documents, and I know that no parent would put a price on their child’s safety. Furthermore, Glassman’s argument that you couldn’t balance a budget with Medicare For All was refuted by a recent study funded by none other than the conservative Koch brothers. According to the study, Medicare For All would save the American people $2 trillion over 10 years. Glassman’s reasoning for not pursuing the greed that’s killing our loved ones as aggressively as she otherwise could is both unfounded and untrue.
Simply stated, Mary’s opponent in the August 14 primary , Jahana Hayes, has shown moral leadership by boldly stating that healthcare, a fundamental human right, “should not be a for-proﬁt industry”. There should be no proﬁt incentive to capitalize on people’s misery. As a result of our current system, the Sackler family, owners of the Stamford-based Purdue Pharmaceuticals, are now richer than the Rockefellers largely thanks to their invention of Oxycontin. According to a 2017 Esquire proﬁle of the Sacklers, “family members actively led Purdue’s day-to-day aﬀairs, ﬁlling the majority of its board slots and supplying top executives”. An entire family became richer than the Rockefellers by capitalizing ruthlessly on the deaths of young people and lying about it. Mary Glassman thinks we can work cooperatively with these people through the law, rather than holding the entirety of their system accountable.
At the end of the July 30th primary debate, I approached Mary to ask her in person how she planned to tackle the corporate greed driving the opioid crisis. When I mentioned my brother’s death, she reacted with a polite “I’m so sorry” as if this was the ﬁrst she was hearing of my brother’s passing, despite being ﬁrst selectman at the time. My brother passed away in 2010, and Mary governed from 2007–2014.
Once Mary began to reply, her campaign manager interjected and handed me his card.
We deserve better than someone who forgets the untimely deaths of our children. We deserve someone who’s going to ﬁght greed with the attitude that “failure is not an option”. We need Jahana Hayes for Congress.