We’re proud of the many SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member candidates for state office this fall. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been featuring some who are facing challengers in the Sept. 13 statewide primary.
Once a teacher, always a teacher. Much like another member candidate we featured last week, Mary Heath, Chapter 32 member Connie Van Houten remains dedicated to education after her retirement as a teacher.
Van Houten, who taught English at Manchester Memorial High School for 36 years, currently teaches at Manchester Community College, as well as in an English-as-a-second-language program. She also serves as a member of the Manchester School Board, representing Ward 12. She’s making her first bid for state office in Hillsborough District 45, which covers Manchester Wards 10, 11 and 12, and said that absences — not of the school variety — prompted her to run.
“Some of the things I saw happening in the Legislature were very close votes — for example, the opioid crisis and the Hillsborough County drug court — were decided by a couple of votes,” she said. “The fact is that some of our representatives aren’t showing up for big votes. I know there are good reasons people can’t attend, but it’s my staunch belief that you need to be present.”
Van Houten, who’s a lifetime NEA member, said she views unions as great protectors of workers, leveling the playing field in the workplace. But she said she can be proud that their work extends beyond just that.
“The unions that I’ve been part of have done much more than just work on behalf of the workers,” she said, working on initiatives that help the community at large, such as health care and quality of education.
She said that, if elected, she’s hoping to continue her involvement with education, but on a statewide scale.
“We have a new act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which is going to take over for No Child Left Behind,” she said. “I’d like to be a part of how that plays out on the state level, and I’d bring the perspective of a teacher, a senior citizen, and a resident of Manchester.”
Van Houten said her campaign is going well, and she loves connecting with people. Even if she doesn’t win, she said she’s found the experience beneficial.
“It’s making me stronger and better for the board I serve on in Manchester,” she said.
We hope that voters in Manchester Wards 10, 11 and 12 will support Van Houten in the state primary on Tuesday. You can find the entire list of SEA-endorsed candidates here.