Connecticut has now become the 13th state in the nation to give parents who want to run for statewide elected office more access to the ballot. They can now use campaign money to pay for childcare.
It all started when a Fairfield mom challenged the state’s election enforcement commission back in 2018.
Caitlin Clarkson Pereira was a mom on a mission. “It was this equation of ‘where could she be? Who could she be with?;” Her then 3-year-old daughter Parker in tow – this mom ran for office a few years back, going door to door looking for votes.
“So at first, I would bring her some people would look at me in a strange way like ‘why is a three-year-old here?’ But a couple months into it people started to expect to see her, so if she wasn’t with me people would say ‘where is Parker?” explained Clarkson Pereira.
Parker, now six, needed naps, snack time, and Periera needed to pay for daycare.
The Fairfield mom asked the state elections enforcement for permission to use campaign funds for childcare.
Pereira was using the citizen’s election program. The answer was ‘no.’
“I was told ‘childcare is only a personal expense’ and we could not use campaign funds for childcare. Especially because they were quite a few conservative states – Texas, Wisconsin, Alabama – who allowed expenses to be used for childcare, and when you think about Connecticut being a more progressive state I was not expecting to get a no response.”
The Federal Election Commission allows campaign cash for childcare at the national level, but there was never a state law.
Periera went on a three-year journey to get that changed. Last month, Governor Ned Lamont signed the bill into law.
“Some of you say ‘you’re so woke. What’s all this family-friendly stuff and affirmative action and equity?’…You’re a lousy leader if you do what the CEOs in this country do for the last 100 years,” exclaimed Governor Ned Lamont at the bill signing.
Vote Mama foundation tracks how many parents are in Congress. There are more dads than moms. Foundation leaders say allowing for some campaign donations to be used for daycare makes sense.
Sarah Hague, the regional director for Vote Mama Foundation, says, “Depriving us of a critical voice in our government…Who will act on the issues that matter the most to families?”
Periera says it’s powerful to see your efforts come to life.
She may have lost her campaign, but she and Parker helped pass a law impacting thousands of lives. “That was empowering,” she told News 8. “It made me feel like just her being present was changing people’s expectations and maybe the face of folks that they could see running not only that but in the future.”
She’s currently working for a non-profit and taking a test to become Fairfield’s first female firefighter. Will she run for office again? “It’s something that might happen in the future….to be determined,” said Pereira.
Connecticut is the first state in the nation with a Citizens Election Program to pass this kind of law.
We also sit down with Former State Senator George Logan (R), as he is a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Connecticut’s 5th congressional district. Watch that in the video above.