The decision by Bruce "Zeke" Zalaski not to defend his seat in the 81st Assembly district, which comprises a large portion of Southington, has set the stage for a vigorous contest between David Zoni, who seeks to succeed his fellow Democrat, and Cheryl Lounsbury, who aims to flip the seat to Republican control.
Zoni acknowledges that the 81st has more registered Democrats than Republicans, but both he and his opponent anticipate a competitive race.
"Southington voters are sophisticated and vote on the issues," not by partisan identification, according to Lounsbury.
The dominant topics in the contest have been economic growth and job creation, as they have been in races at every level across the country. Naturally, the two candidates have different prescriptions to cure the state's ailing economy.
Zoni proposes measures aimed at stimulating manufacturing, including tax incentives for manufacturers and training programs in high-tech manufacturing fields."We need to make things again," he summarizes.
Zoni also recommends expanding existing jobs programs, such as the Small Business Express Program, which streamlines the start-up process for new companies under a certain size. Additionally, he suggests redirecting a portion of state unemployment funds to businesses in the form of hiring grants.
Lounsbury believes that legislators "need to look into what's causing jobs to leave." "Our cost of living is too high. Our taxes are too high. We need to decrease taxes and decrease spending."
Consistent with that philosophy, Lounsbury lists reducing the size of government, along with job growth and "helping businesses thrive" as her primary legislative focuses if elected.
Zoni also cites creating jobs as his top legislative priority but adds "education, property tax reform, and eliminating government waste." He believes that one way to reduce waste is through the "regionalization of services."
Both candidates understand the perception among voters that American politics has become hopelessly polarized, so they seek to reassure residents that they are capable of working with the other party. Lounsbury highlights her 14 year tenure on the Town Council.
"That doesn't happen unless you work with both sides," she declares. She also points to her centrist views in some areas."I'm a financial conservative but a social issues moderate."
Zoni too cites his service on the Council and asserts that he is "known for reaching across the aisle." He is committed to this approach because, he acknowledges, "you never know where a good idea will come from."
Zoni does not downplay the "core values" that make him a Democrat, but insists that partisan disagreement "doesn't mean we can't work together" to "move forward" as a state.
David Zoni and Cheryl Lounsbury will contest Zeke Zalaski's seat on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6., for the right to represent the 81st District. So get out to your local polling place and vote!