Ted Kennedy, Jr. was elected to the Connecticut State Senate in November 2014 to serve the communities of Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison, and North Branford. Outside of his politically royal lineage, he is a force in his own right for healthcare, environmental issues and education. He was twelve years old when he was diagnosed with bone cancer, requiring that his right leg be amputated. This Kennedy has a unique perspective on life, politics and the future.
I live here because I think it’s the most beautiful place on earth. My wife and I met in New Haven when I was studying at the Yale School of Forestry, and she was studying psychiatry. We fell in love with Branford. We love the incredible beauty of the place, the rich history, and most of all, the people of Branford.
Here’s what I want for my kids. I want for them the same kinds of opportunities that we enjoy right now: clean beaches and clean water. I want excellent educational opportunities. I want them to be able to make a living and stay in Connecticut, with good job opportunities. Kids are leaving the state. I want my family to be close by.
Cancer gave me perspective. It showed me the things that were important, and not to sweat the small stuff. I have gratitude for each and every day I’m alive. It also sensitizes you to the needs and struggles that a lot of families have. Families struggle with healthcare, and my battle with cancer helped me to understand that.
As a politician people see me as someone who will be honest and speak my views. I think people want someone who will level with them. I think people are tired of the scripted and packaged politicians who say what people want to hear. The issues we face are complicated. People want representatives that will stand up for what they believe in.
I believe in common sense problem solving and consensus building. I learned that from my father. He taught me that to make progress, you might need to compromise. Compromise is not capitulation. It’s a way to get things done.
The best advice my father ever gave me was to never give up. After I lost my leg to cancer, I went through a lot of self-doubt. I wasn’t even sure anyone would want to be my friend. He taught me to persevere. I think that was his greatest strength. He taught me that sometimes progress is made little by little. My favorite childhood memory would have to be the family camping trips my father took us on every summer. You know, it’s funny. After my father died all my cousins were talking about with those camping trips. We would rent a Winnebago and go to the Berkshires, and to the Civil War battlefields in Pennsylvania. He was a big history buff. And now it’s something I do with my kids as well.
I have some special places on the shoreline. I have a little boat that I keep in Stony Point. I have a sea kayak. I love to kayak the Farm River in Branford. I’d love to get out around Sachem’s Head, and get around the Thimble Islands. These places make you feel like you’re the only person in the world. And when I’m out there I know that it’s my job to preserve and protect the shoreline.
I think what’s really unique about the shoreline are the unique qualities of each town. In my district I have Durham, Killingworth and Branford. It always amazes me how very different they all are.