It was no surprise on Thursday evening to hear Southington’s candidates for state office share similar desires for what they hope to accomplish in office. For both Democrats and Republicans on this year’s ballot, the ultimate goal is exactly the same: grow the economy and provide jobs, reduce costs for the average family and improve quality of life in Connecticut.
The difference in candidates for state office in 2012 is not in what they hope will happen, but how the candidates believe the state should get to that point.
Candidates for the 16th State Senate District and the 80th, 81st and 103rd State House Districts went head-to-head on Thursday at the Calendar House and although the differences between each became a little bit clearer. (Editor’s Note: See the list of candidates in the photographs included above.)
Joe Aresimowicz, D-30th, was also in attendance but it running unopposed.
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Republicans including Rob Sampson, incumbent candidate for the 80th, and incumbent 16th Senate District candidate Joseph Markley made it clear that they supported less government, less spending and less taxes.
“I feel that crony capitalism is not the way to go,” Markley said. “What it does is pay off well connected companies who say ‘we will leave the state unless…’ - I am firm in what believe and that’s to get on track, we need less government.”
With the economy struggling, the two candidates along with fellow Republican Al Adinolfi, incumbent candidate for the 103rd, they said certain jobs bills including Gov. Dannel Malloy’s “First Five” initiative are handcuffing the state and instead of helping create jobs. Sampson also questioned initatives like the New Britain-Hartford Busway project, which he called a waste of money.
Adinolfi, who largely represents Cheshire, said that a deal like that given to Jackson Labs costs not only $290 million in state bonding – a cost of $400 million after interest – but guarantees only 300 jobs and could lead to additional “spin-offs” as other companies develop around it.
“We are looking at costs of $1.37 million per job,” Adniolfi said. “I’m looking out for the future of the state. Our children right now will be paying through the nose in taxes for what we are spending right now.”
Adniolfi’s opponent for the 103rd, Liz Linehan, and senate candidate John “Corky” Mazurek, who is challenging Markley’s seat, vehemently disagreed.
The two said the jobs bill not only helps create new and permanent jobs by mandating companies remain within state or take on the costs of the loan, but provide peace of mind by offering a sense of job security that the average Connecticut resident is desperately seeking right now.
Linehan said these initiatives work by improving the state’s competitiveness and ability to keep the jobs local. She added that the “spin-offs” from grants offered to organizations like Jackson Labs will create jobs well beyond the 300 required and help boost the economy as well. It is estimated as many as 4,000 jobs could be created from the project, Malloy noted in September 2011.
“When I walk around the district, people are legitimately scared. They are trying to figure out how to keep their jobs and pay for their bills,” Mazurek said. “As a state, we need to do everything we can to promote business and to grow jobs.”
Job creation was something that both candidates for the 81st district, Republican Cheryl Lounsbury and Democrat David Zoni, put emphasis on as they talked about their goals if elected to office.
The two were very similar, saying that they believe more needs to be done to reach across the aisle and pointed to their past records as Southington town councilors. They also said that teamwork, and a focus on jobs, would be critical in helping fix the struggling economy.
The wild card in Thursday’s forum was Charles “Chuck” Marsella, the challenger to Sampson in the 80th district, who did not appear to take a stance along party lines. Marsella instead said he agreed with the need to focus on job creation but also wanted to see taxes addressed at the state level.
Marsella questioned a growing list of unfunded mandates, saying these mandates are putting pressure and costs on local governments without any proven results. He said it is wearing on state residents and their wallets.
"Any mandates from state should be funded by state,” he said. “It is extremely difficult for families and towns to balance a budget when the state driving up costs."
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