Tuesday, Nov. 2, marked the end of the 2010 midterm election cycle -- a particularly contentious time for our state that I'm hopeful will give way to a renewed sense of responsibility in our government. It's a challenging time for our state; however, the opportunity to change our course and put Connecticut on the path toward prosperity and stability is within reach.

I'd like to thank each and every Norwalk and Darien resident who exercised their right and performed their civic duty by going to the polls to cast their vote. As we saw in this election, and we will no doubt see in elections to come, every vote is important and every vote does count. Thank you for your vote.

Despite the problems that other municipalities faced this Election Day, our community's voting experience was relatively trouble-free -- a credit to our municipal election officials and our volunteer poll workers. Thanks to them for their hard work on what I'm sure was a very long day.

On a personal note, I'm honored that the residents of the 25th Senatorial District elected me to represent their interests for another two years. It's a job that I take very seriously, and I'm grateful for the trust that you, my constituents, place in me.

My colleagues and I have a lot of work to do. Many difficult decisions will have to be made to get our fiscal house in order. Our looming budget deficit will mean that everything will have to be on the table in terms of programs and services and that, in the end, thing will be radically different.

At the same time, our focus must be to grow jobs in our state and implement policies that encourage job growth. And we must improve our educational system, statewide, closing the largest achievement gap in the nation. Employment and education go hand-in-hand both short term and long term. Without a well-educated workforce at all levels, we cannot grow as a state.

New leadership from the Executive Branch will no doubt set the tone for what I believe will be a change of course for our state in many ways. I look forward to working with Gov.-elect Malloy on these and other important issues as he assumes office in January.

Your ideas and your feedback are an essential part of this process. Not everyone can take time off work to attend a public hearing or to testify before a legislative committee. As your state senator, though, I'm here to listen to you.

Please keep in touch by calling my office directly at 860-240-0414 my home 203-840-1333 or through e-mail bob.duff@cga.ct.gov.

My door is always open, and your thoughts do make a difference.