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Tired of gridlock and grandstanding?

An Interview with Danielle Cheesbrough

by Bryce Leiberman


As I sat down to speak with Stonington First Selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough, I was curious to learn more about her candidacy and her new Forward Party Affiliation. Danielle Chesebrough’s victory in Stonington was monumental. She was one of the first Forward Party candidates to be elected to office and is committed to working across the aisle for the needs of Stonington. As a young person who will soon be voting, I was curious as to how third-party candidates are succeeding in Connecticut. Chesebrough has recently been reelected to a third term but had run in association with the Forward Party, an independent third party founded by Andrew Yang in 2021. Based on core non-partisan principles (grace and tolerance, diverse thinking, etc.), The Forward Party aims to empower local leaders to make changes based on their communities without a rigid platform. With its tenets of kindness and openness, Chesebrough found the Forward Party to be a perfect organization to run with to support her community. In order to find out more about her candidacy and the Forward Party, I sat down with her.

Danielle Chesebrough grew up in a politically diverse home. She was introduced to many worldviews and differing opinions, which have shaped her into the person she is today. Chesebrough says, “I grew up in a way where [we had] lots of Democrats in the family, lots of Republicans in the family, and I loved that healthy dialogue and balance.”

Chesebrough then worked as a Senior Analyst in Investor Relations for the UN before pivoting to local politics in Stonington. As for her experience in the UN, Chesebrough worked to bring together different perspectives to find common ground, coordinating and promoting global investors' collaborative engagements with publicly listed companies, stock exchanges, and policymakers on a range of environmental, social, and governance topics. She has the same sentiment about local politics, saying, “We were trying to find the common end goal people have or where is there some area of agreement and how can we build on that and get there, and I would say that’s something both in governing as well as in running for office was something I tried to take with me.”

When the opportunity came to run for local office, Chesebrough jumped at it. Running unaffiliated, she saw a chance to be involved as a part of the previously inactive community. Many candidates are only interested in serving the members of their own party, but Chesebrough wants to represent all members of her community regardless of political affiliation. Speaking on the large number of those who aren’t registered with either party, Chesebrough says, “It’s really hard for them to get engaged and involved... if you are not in the parties it’s challenging and it’s not welcoming so you are just then limiting your pool of people already in an area where you need more people to get involved.”

For many, the Forward Party seems confusing. A large majority of its opposition believes that the lack of common ideology prevents constituents from truly getting to know candidates and their opinions. However, Chesebrough sees this differently, stating, “If you like more of a principled approach to governing, I think that is a healthy route... You have people who agree to a set of principles on how they are going to interact with others and how they are going to hold themselves accountable. It resonated with me and hopefully it will resonate with other people.”

Chesebrough’s principled method of governing is particularly unique in an era of political brokenness. More than ever, people are finding themselves politically homeless, standing between two extremes and forced to choose the lesser of two evils. Only by providing a new, alternative route can we find common ground and move forward. The strength of a candidate’s character is not defined by a D or an R next to their name but rather by their actions to serve their constituents, and the common principles proposed by the Forward Party do just that. Listening, diverse thinking, and bottom-up solutions are the principles that a strong candidate should possess, and Danielle Chesebrough fits the bill.

Voter turnout increased in Stonington in the last election cycle, with a turnout rate of over 44%, compared to the state average of 33%. For Danielle Chesebrough, the presence of the Forward Party was a source of curiosity and excitement for the community, and it meant more engagement in Stonington. She believes that when people join Forward, they join a group bigger than themselves, saying, “[W]hen you are part of Forward, you are part of a bigger movement.”

Working across the aisle is a vital principle of the Forward Party. In Stonington, housing is a significant source of contention, and Danielle Chesebrough believes that creating an open dialogue on this issue will develop solutions that benefit all community members. Chesebrough said, “When we started unpacking [the issue]... people who have concerns about more affordable housing in the community or just growing the population, you start to realize it’s easy to villainize each other or put them in camps of us versus them, but what I am hoping to do is bring different perspectives together and figure out what are the top concerns, why are they there and how can we address them so that people are more comfortable, and how do we bring in much needed affordable housing... It is something we are hoping in Stonington we can start doing a better job on and leading in a way that will help our region and then work with our state counterparts to make sure we are doing the best we can on this complicated issue.”

Chesebrough has also fostered a partnership with the Stonington Human Services and Police Department that she hopes will help address more community needs around mental health and addiction. She believes that education and awareness about these issues are more critical in our current environment than ever, given the influx of mental health issues and addiction problems in America.


As for her future aspirations, Chesebrough believes that the future is open. “If there are opportunities to give back at the state or national level I would definitely welcome that.”

One of the main messages Chesebrough stressed during our talk was that the two-party system is broken. In our modern political climate of hatred and anger, many find themselves repulsed by both sides, searching for a middle ground that doesn’t exist. Chesebrough’s victory resulted from the growing movement in America toward an alternative solution to the broken two-party system. While some criticize her for not being as progressive or conservative as they would like, Chesebrough’s victory marks a surprising move towards the center, which is welcome given the increasingly dramatic extremes of both major political parties. Maybe Chesebrough’s success isn’t what the far left or right wants, but her commitment to serving everyone is most certainly what we all need.

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  • Toby Proctor
    commented 2024-01-12 10:49:00 -0500
    Great interview from our young volunteer Bryce! Danielle is a force to recon with in state and local politics and I am so excited to have her as one of our most eloquent Forward advocates. Not Left. Not Right. Forward!!
  • Jan Carpenter
    published this page in News & Updates 2024-01-12 09:03:02 -0500