Interview with Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz is our #wcw this month. In case you didn’t know, she’s our state’s 89th and current Lieutenant Governor and previously served as the 72nd Secretary of the State of Connecticut from 1999 to 2011.

We thought @lgsusanb might like to take a break from political talk and allow us a “getting to know you” interview instead…and she was more than happy to oblige. We enjoyed every moment of our little jaunt to the State Capitol Building to meet Susan Bysiewicz. Here’s our chat!

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz
Besides interviewing the Lt. Governor, we toured the State Capitol; a first for both of us!

Favorite destination in CT for a weekend drive?

One of my favorite spots is Stonington. It’s a very beautiful town with wonderful restaurants and one of the best butcher shops in America, called Grass & Bone. It sells locally grown meat, locally made cheeses, and locally grown vegetables. It’s a butcher shop and a restaurant. There’s also a winery and craft breweries in Stonington. I love being on the water and relaxing. And, there’s really great lobster rolls at Costello’s!

The Lieutenant Governor presides from the Charter Oak Chair. Carved from the fallen oak tree.

What do you love about CT?

It has everything in close proximity! I live in Middletown and literally, it’s halfway between Hartford and New Haven. So, in 30 minutes I can be at the beach. There are mountains to hike. Some of my favorite places are right in the Middletown area, Wadsworth Falls Park, and Castle Craig in Meriden. I grew up on a farm in Middletown and love seeing other farms. I can drive to Litchfield and see some very beautiful farms. In Eastern CT I can go to Lebanon and find some of the biggest dairy farms in the state. Another thing that’s very exciting for CT is that there are now 80+ craft breweries and another 25 in the hopper (😉). You have to check out the Norbrook Brewery. Put it on your list!

The Senate Chamber
Hall of Flags State Seal Stained Glass

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

There were times that I wanted to be a teacher. I was a kid who loved to go to school and loved reading books. I came from a family of teachers and librarians.

I also thought it would be interesting to be a doctor, and liked the idea of being able to help people who were sick. But when push came to shove, all those chemistry classes….I decided to go another route.

Finally, I was inspired to go into public service by Ella Grasso. When I was in high school I met her at a Girl’s State event. They teach kids in high school how a bill becomes a law, and about the election process. I remember her talking about how she helped people every day.

Ella Grasso statue and an empty spot next to her…

You wrote Ella: A Biography of Ella Grasso -Tell us 4 things we should know about Ella…

  1. She was elected in 1974 and made the covers of 4 of the big news magazines because she was the first woman elected governor, in her own right, in the country.
  2. There were a lot of people, both men and women, who have stood on her shoulders. When I was Secretary of the State there was a moment when Jodi Rell was Governor, Denise Nappier was the Treasurer, and Nancy Wyman was Comptroller, so 4 of the 6 officers were women. I think it was Ella Grasso’s example that led us to that point. She also inspired the Italian American community.
  3. Ella took office in 1975 when there was a huge deficit. She was a person known for her compassion but also somebody who was very fiscally responsible. She’d insist that the governor be driven around in a compact car.
  4. May 10 is going to be Ella Grasso’s 100th birthday and we’ll be throwing a party!
Interior of the dome
Hall of Flags

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

Where don’t I like shopping? Who has time to shop though? J. Crew is one of my favorite places. Their sizes work for me and I can order online! I also love shopping at thrift stores. My sister and I were the Goodwill queens in college. I like vintage. Oh, and Marshalls and TJ Maxx. My inaugural gown was actually from Rent the Runway!

The State Motto written in Latin – “Qui Transtulit Sustinet” – translates to “He who transplanted still sustains.” Oh, and top tip: don’t stand on it when you visit! Baaad.

Watching anything on Netflix?

I was a huge fan of Downton Abbey. I love the clothes. We’re watching Victoria. And we have binge-watched all of House of Cards. I also love Chef’s Table.

The Genius of Connecticut

Methods you use to stay on top of things!? Apps?

Juliemar, my press secretary! And my Google Calendar. I don’t use a lot of fancy apps. I just keep a lot in my brain and keep lists!

One of the statues displayed outside the entrances to the House of Representatives Public Gallery

What time does your day usually start…and end?

I usually get up around 6:30 AM and I like to be in bed by 10:30 PM. Every day is different but usually involves going to multiple towns.

Prudence Crandall
Replica of the Liberty Bell – the bell is still rung on special occasions. Not when we came to visit, though. Strange.

Tea or coffee?

Both! You can ask me the name of any town and I can tell you where the best coffee place is.

Oh, we could do a blog post together on that!

Yes, let’s do that! You have to go to Klekolo World Coffee in Middletown. They sell organic coffee. My favorite is their chocolate raspberry.

Thanks for chatting with us, Lt. Gov! Let’s do that coffee blog post soon 😉

And a few more pics from our Capitol tour…

If you’ve never…we highly recommend a trip to the Capitol to take a tour or do a self-guided tour as we did! So fun, and we learned a lot like, did you know our state insect is this?

Nathan Hale – State hero of CT (and originator of jazz hands) 😉 – just kidding
Antique phone booth (or TARDIS)
And one last top tip – when nice folks are giving you directions to get the Capitol building and they tell you to access it through the LOB…⬆️

Pics: Lora / Words: Bev