I am running for my fifth term serving as State Representative for the 23rd District. I was born and raised in Old Saybrook and currently live in Old Lyme. I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee, as a member on the Finance and Education Committees, and as an Assistant Minority Leader. I work in finance at John A Bysko Associates and serve on The Kate Board of Trustees, the Rotary Club of Old Saybrook, Old Saybrook Chamber and the Old Lyme RTC. I am a past alternate on the Old Lyme ZBA.
1.What is the most serious problem currently facing the state of Connecticut? Why is it the most serious problem? What would you do to help solve the problem?
The most serious problem facing Connecticut is our uncertain economic outlook. Nearly every person I speak to has concerns about the cost of groceries, the expected rise in utility costs, the uncertainty surrounding the price of gasoline, supply chain issues, the stock market and retirement plans; the list goes on and on. All of us are affected by these circumstances, especially the middle class and seniors living on fixed incomes. Small businesses have concerns about hiring employees, the costs of goods, and the potential for fewer customers this winter due to household budgets being squeezed.
First, I would suspend several taxes. The gas tax holiday should be extended past this year, and the highway use tax should be repealed before it takes effect. Additionally, I would also put in a diesel tax holiday. Increasing costs on shipping and delivering basic necessities like heating oil makes no sense, yet that is the direction we are heading under the current majority party. Second, my focus would be on energy costs. DEEP and PURA should focus their efforts towards finding cost effective and reliable sources of energy for Connecticut’s consumers. I am a strong advocate for expanding renewable energy but we need to recognize that the windmill project in New London is pure government corruption and waste. As in the past, I would continue to oppose the creation of new taxes. The Democrat majority has tried to implement a statewide property tax, new grocery taxes, a cell phone tax, and taxes on services like accounting and taking your dog or cat to the vet. Overspending drives the constant need for new revenues; I’ll continue to fight against wasteful pork barrel spending. This played a huge role in this year’s budget increase. The state must do whatever it can to ease the burden of inflation and I am the best equipped to do so.
2. If elected/re-elected, which issues (excluding the one you have described in Q1) would be your primary focus during your term?
Other issues are public safety, education, and energy. Regarding public safety, I would focus efforts to hire the best and brightest state troopers. Because of the ‘defund the police mentality’, we are down nearly 400 state troopers from where we should be. This makes Connecticut more dangerous – and recent crime statistics show rape and murder are up. I would also put an end to criminal-first policies and always put victims’ rights first. I believe in second chances and rehabilitation, but there comes a point when the state must protect the public from a repeat violent offender.
Our public schools are vital to the 23rd. They are a big reason why families move here and why our property values remain high. The people who know our schools and students best should be the ones in charge of curriculum. I would pull back state mandates and let our teachers teach to the students they have. Parents should also have rights in the classroom and be a part of the learning process. There cannot be anymore COVID mandates infringing on our kids’ education – as President Biden said “The Pandemic Is Over”. We also must do more to encourage youth to get into in-demand careers in the trades and STEM. I have championed adding financial literacy as an option for schools and creating recovery schools for students recovering from addiction.
Regarding energy, the State of Connecticut made a grave error in handing control of our emissions and energy laws to California through SB 4. California has some of the highest gas costs (over $6/gallon!) and some of the highest cost, least reliable energy. It makes no sense to allow the California Air Resources Board, located 3000 miles away in a state with a population 10x our size with a completely different climate, to control what we do here. The state should be focused on diversifying energy and PURA/DEEP must balance environmental initiatives with cost. Unless the state gets energy costs down, there will be people freezing this winter. The mandates in SB 4, including the California takeover, will make your delivery fees higher.
3. Why are you running for this position?
I am running for a fifth term because I believe the residents of the 23rd deserve someone with dedication, experience, and the institutional knowledge to tackle major problems of the day. We deserve a pragmatist with an independent mind, not an extremist with little experience outside of the partisan committee of a town. I am a proven listener with a proven record of bipartisanship – and we need more people in the legislature like that, not more zealots.. Expanding the current majority will only lead to higher costs and most residents here simply cannot afford that.
In my tenure in the legislature I have created bipartisan caucuses on clean energy and for our future. I received the Millennial Action Project’s “Rising Star Award” for my work reaching across the aisle. To me, it’s the policies that should matter, not political parties. If everyone had this view then we would be able to get a lot more accomplished. For me, this has been about public service and I’d like to continue to be a champion for the four towns within the district.
I have always tried to be a force for good and will continue to be if re-elected. But, I need your support to get there. Regardless of what happens, it’s been an honor serving and I thank the wonderful people of the district for giving me that opportunity.