State representative Rob Sampson (R) and his opponent, Wolcott Councilor Chuck Marsella (D), share the identical goals of stimulating the sluggish state economy and creating new jobs in the region. But, as residents likely expect, they have differing ideas as to how to accomplish these objectives.
Sampson, the incumbent office-holder, believes that the state must "spend less, borrow less." He points with pride to his service on the appropriations committee and particularly the "alternative budget" that he and fellow Republicans crafted that he maintains would have reduced the government waste and interference that acts as a drag on the private sector.
Challenger Marsella stresses the importance of "economic development." Connecticut, he asserts, needs to "build the revenue side of the budget." However, he makes a point to reassure the local electorate that his solution is to "bring in new businesses" and not to pay for the increase "on the taxpayer's dime."
Spending issues are a concern to Southington-area voters in the current economy, just as they are to people across the country, and here the difference between the candiates' respective approaches sharpens further.
Sampson emphasizes the need to "show fiscal restraint", "reduce spending across the board", and work to develop a "smaller, leaner, more efficient government." He specifically singles out for criticism elected officials' so-called pet-projects, items that are sometimes termed "pork" or earmarks.
"Some legislators just like to put their names on things," he chides.
One state program that Sampson cites as a government boondoggle is the Busway project. The representative thinks that the endeavor should yet be scrapped, even though work on it has already begun. He compares it to the abandoned "People-Mover" from the 1970s which was designed as a shuttle between commuter lots and Bradley International Airport.
The project was eventually dismantled by Governor Ella Grasso, a Democrat, who viewed it as public waste.
Marsella is uncertain whether he would have voted for the Busway either, but opines that "we have to make the best of it now." Returning to his emphasis on economic development, he sees the potential for an improved Busway to become "a corridor to the future," due to potential growth in towns and communities along its route.
Marsella's overall attitude toward spending projects is to view them case-by-case. He does not oppose cutting or eliminating inefficient or redundant programs.
"If it's unnecessary, we need to scrutinize it," and be prepared to do away with such a program, he affirms.
Despite Connecticut's status as one of the country's bluest states and the fact that it is not expected to be competititve at the presidential level, neither candidate anticipates an "Obama coattails" effect upon their contest.
Sampson has faith in his consitutents to decide each race on its own merits and, more broadly, states that "people are becoming more aware of the effects of legislators on their lives."
"The president and the governor are responsible" for current conditions in the state, and many voters realize it, regardless of their party affiliation, he argues.
Meanwhile, Marsella emphasizes, "I'm running on my own record," not that of anyone else in his party. He continues, "I've been a member of this community. I've served in this community. People know me."
Incumbent Rob Sampson will attempt to hold to hold his seat against challenger Chuck Marsella on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. Don't forget to vote!