I have served as State Representative since 2015. I currently serve on the Transportation, Finance, Revenue and Bonding, and Planning and Development Committees and various bipartisan caucuses. In the community I serve on the boards of The Kate and Old Saybrook Senior Housing, am a member of the Old Saybrook Rotary Club and the Old Saybrook and Lyme-Old Lyme Chambers of Commerce and am an alternate on the Old Lyme ZBA.
I’m a lifelong resident of the district and live in Old Lyme with my significant other Lisa. I work for Coldwell Banker and John A. Bysko Associates.
1. What do you believe are currently the three most pressing issues in the state of Connecticut?
- COVID-19 and the recovery from it. COVID-19 has changed our lives and maneuvering through the pandemic and its effects will be a major priority next year.
- Economy and Jobs. Even prior to COVID-19, our job recovery was lagging behind the nation and our economic outlook wasn’t stellar. The legislature must do a better job attracting employers to Connecticut by reducing taxes and burdensome regulations – and also training a viable workforce to fill in-demand jobs like in manufacturing or clean energy. If the jobs are here, the people will come and participate in our state and local economy. The plan from the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth needs to be revisited as it had a lot of good ideas to improve our economy and improve job growth. The legislature must take a break from passing new mandates on our municipalities and businesses and really work to reduce costs – whether it be property taxes, energy costs, or costs borne by excessive regulations and too much government oversight. Government should be a partner to private sector growth, not a hindrance. We also must do what we can make it less expensive to retire here, which I have consistently worked towards.
- State Budget. We have had budgetary challenges for years, but I was proud to support a bipartisan budget in 2017 that created a lower spending cap, a lower bonding cap, and a new volatility cap that has allowed our rainy-day fund to grow to over $3B. However, the government continues to spend beyond its means and continues to land us in debt, which has been exacerbated due to the pandemic. Currently, we are facing a $1.3B deficit for the current fiscal year and, potentially, $2B deficits for each of the follow two. The legislature must do what it can to get the state’s fiscal house in order, which also includes tackling our long-term debt as a result of unfunded pension liabilities. As a member of the Finance Committee, I will be able to participate in budget discussions and advocate for more fiscally responsible changes.
2. From the three issues you cite in your response to Question1, identify the one that you think is the most pressing and explain your choice. Then expand on steps you believe should be taken to resolve it and how you could contribute to that resolution process?
The most pressing issue facing the state is the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery from it. COVID-19 has affected so many aspects of our daily lives – from our economy, to our workforce, to education, to healthcare.
The state will need to do what it can to ensure our economy is stable. This will require partnering with the federal government to provide ongoing small business relief, tourism/entertainment relief, unemployment assistance, and support for our local communities. It will also require the legislature to find where savings can be made. Like many private businesses have had to do, the state needs to do a full inventory of its operations to see how agencies can reduce their budgets. This doesn’t mean laying employees off, but rather where services can be streamlined, outdated jobs can be eliminated through attrition, or costs can be saved by people working remotely – at least in the short term.
Some private sector jobs will never return, so it is vital that the state has plans in place to provide job training or partner with job creators in order to get people back to work. At the same time, the pandemic showcased cracks in the Department of Labor and the legislature will need to address missteps taken.
In terms of healthcare, the state must ensure that we have the proper protocols in place to protect our seniors and most vulnerable. I proposed convening a working group of stakeholders to create ‘best practices’ guidelines for nursing homes and assisted living facilities in order to better protect residents and employees. Recently, we passed extending and expanding telehealth capabilities – further expansion may be necessary. Once a vaccine is available, the state must have plan in place for delivery.
In terms of public education, we will need to assess cracks in the system and who was left behind. Getting students back up to speed will be critical to ensure our kids have the tools they need to succeed. In terms of higher education, some difficult decisions may need to be made in order to keep our institutions afloat.
3. What personal characteristics do you embody that justify why people should vote for you?
Bipartisanship. Throughout my six years as State Representative, I have always reached across the aisle and worked in a bipartisan fashion with my colleagues. I’ve formed bipartisan caucuses such as the Young Legislators’ Caucus and the Clean Energy Caucus in order to move our state forward in a way that works to benefit the most people. I’ve been endorsed by the Independent Party and the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters because of my ability to be an independent-minded legislator and one who puts people over politics. I am someone who always works towards consensus.
Experience. I’ve served as State Representative since 2015 and have gained a lot of experience on various committees and within the Capitol. I understand how the legislative process works in Connecticut and have made strong connections within agencies that affect the constituents of the 23rd the most such as DOT, DOL, and DMV. Serving through COVID has created a unique perspective and one that will allow me to best represent my constituents next year as we deal with next steps.
Commitment to Community. My commitment to the four towns within the legislative district is unwavering. Two of my biggest successes as a legislator have been stopping the federal rail bypass and stopping state forced school regionalization. We deserve a legislator who will stick up for the people of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook against power grabs from the federal or state government. As a volunteer with countless organizations, I am extremely dedicated to service and working to improve the communities I represent.
Knowledge of the District. As someone who was born here, was educated here, lived in three of the four towns, works here, and volunteers here, I feel I have a unique understanding of this area. My knowledge of the district and its people has helped guide my decision-making. Because of my extensive time here, I’ve created strong relationships with so many people within the four towns, with major employers and non-profits, and with municipal and state leaders.