Even before local elected officials were faced with navigating a global pandemic, Martha Marx, the Democratic candidate for the state Senate’s 20th District, wanted to bring health care to the forefront of the Senate.
A registered nurse for more than 30 years, Marx is hoping to bring a fresh perspective on health care to Hartford by representing the residents of Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, New London, Salem, Bozrah and Montville.
In 2018, Marx ran for the Senate seat held by three-term incumbent Republican state Sen. Paul Formica and narrowly lost the race. She’s returning to the ballot this year in hopes of focusing on health care at a time when she said that focus is needed most.
“We need a strong voice, we need a health care voice, now more than ever with the pandemic,” said Marx.
“We definitely need more health care workers up in Hartford,” she said, noting that there are no nurses currently serving in the General Assembly.
Marx also hopes to support labor and be a voice for the working class and middle class, which she also said lacks representation in Hartford. She hopes to advocate for affordable housing, tax reform that requires those in higher income brackets to pay more taxes, diversity in health care employment and equal health care treatment for people of color.
She said she also would represent and work for women.
“In everything we do we need to make sure women have a seat at the table,” she said. “Believe me, women are going to be very happy when I’m up in Hartford.”
If elected, Marx said, she will first and foremost focus on managing the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she thinks Gov. Ned Lamont has done “an excellent job” handling the pandemic thus far but sees room for improvement, primarily in protecting residents and workers in nursing homes.
As a state senator, she said she would push for nursing homes to be required to give their workers 40 hours of work every week so that they can obtain full-time employment and benefits from one facility instead of having to bounce between multiple facilities to make ends meet, potentially spreading the COVID-19 virus.
As a visiting nurse in southeastern Connecticut, Marx said she has the unique perspective of being in people’s homes on a daily basis and seeing the struggles they are facing.
A Waterford native, Marx raised her four children in New London and has lived in the city for more than 30 years. She has worked as a visiting nurse since graduating from nursing school at the University of Connecticut in 1985.
She said she originally chose to run for state Senate after taking a hard look at the job insecurity and economic hardships faced by homemakers and companions. She noticed that she and her fellow workers tirelessly care for the sick, elderly and vulnerable, yet lack representation in Hartford to advocate for standardized incomes, benefits, safety regulations, equipment and job security in their industry.
If elected, in her first term she said she would focus first and foremost on health care in terms of managing the pandemic, ensuring that health care workers have adequate personal protective equipment, that her constituents have stable housing and that resources be available to teachers and parents who are helping children with hybrid or online learning.
She also hopes to focus on racial inequity and thinks that affordable housing is where that fight must start. She plans look at the policies that determine who is eligible for certain types of housing and to develop new plans for affordable homes, potentially by building more single-family ranch homes as opposed to multi-family housing.
She wants to take a hard look at racial disparities in health care, making sure people of color have access to the same health care as white people who are treated for the same issues.
“This is something I have been championing for years and years and now I want to get to Hartford so I can make it happen,” she said.
She said she proudly supports the Black Lives Matter movement and said she thinks it is time for things to change.
“As a nurse I witness the institutional and structural racism in our society every day,” she said in a statement. “The movement cannot wait any longer. They have been waiting for hundreds of years for things to change.”
Marx said that she is proud that the legislature passed the police accountability bill earlier this year and supports the bill’s most controversial provision — rolling back qualified immunity for law enforcement officers.
“The provision to hold police accountable for misconduct should stay in the bill,” she said in a statement. “All professions must be held accountable.”
She said she would favor amending the bill “so that bias training is not an hour session once a year on a computer module,” adding that biases can be confronted through a computer course, but need to be tackled through difficult, ongoing conversations.
Marx also said she wants to help streamline services for small businesses, especially those hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, by offering tax incentives and making loans and grants more accessible.
She and Formica both support allowing online sports betting in the state.
In the presidential election, Marx said she plans to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who she believes will work for the working and middle classes. She also thinks Biden and Harris will have a national plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, help the economy recover, protect frontline workers, create green jobs and tear down racism.
She criticized Formica for remaining silent on issues surrounding President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and actions during the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement and said that silence is a sign of complicity and “the reason why no one should vote for him.”
She said her opponent “has done nothing to help southeastern Connecticut and to help the middle class and working class.”
Marx is the chair of the New London Democratic Town Committee, vice president of the AFT Local 5119 and is a former New London City Council member, where she led the Public Works, Finance, and School Buildings/Maintenance Committees.