The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The single most pressing issue facing our state is our continuing economic infirmity. Our poor fiscal policies have caused a decade of stagnant job growth, depressed home values, and wealth and opportunity to flee Connecticut. Our repeated multi-billion dollar state deficits also result in the perpetual underfunding of important education, infrastructure and environmental programs.
The solution is proven and clear. Hartford must stop changing the rates and rules every year, and thereby let our economy, job creators and job seekers regain momentum. A stable tax and regulatory structure will return confidence, investment and prosperity to our state, which in turn will allow us to pursue needed social policies with real action instead of empty words.
Simply put -- talk is cheap, but great schools, a functioning infrastructure and a clean environment are not. We can no longer watch Hartford cannibalize a struggling private sector to feed a glutinous and unapologetic public sector. We thrive as a community when the private sector thrives, and our state policies need to start and end on this undeniable tenet.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
Our current freshman State Rep (my opponent) is a spirited activist for all things other than Easton, Redding and Weston. Her focus on national debates and justice movements may be laudable, but does little to help our district.
I have served in local and state government for the better part of 20 years. I held the State Rep seat for which I am currently running for three terms, and did not run a fourth term in 2016, opting instead to run for US Congress where I was the Republican Party candidate and the Independent Party candidate.
I thus have a six-plus year track record of leadership, accomplishments and tangible returns to our community as your State Rep (some listed below). My service to this community also includes youth coaching, volunteer work, and operating and/or serving with a number of charitable organizations. I know what is broken, how to fix it, and how to make things happen in Hartford and beyond.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I served as your State Rep from 2011 to 2017 and sat on the Environment Committee as Ranking House Member, the Judiciary Committee, and the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee.
I helped draft and secure legislation to: establish greater local control over cell tower placement (HB 6520); create the Small Business Express Program (PA 12-123); secure mandate relief for high-performing schools (PA 13-108); provide tax relief for families of fallen first responders (PA 13-204) (aka the “Russ Neary bill”); help unemployed veterans (PA 13-63); and expand early childhood education and reading initiatives (PA 14-39, 15-137).
As an environmental lawyer and House leader on the Environment Committee, I also helped draft and pass legislation to: secure more open space (PA 12-152); create the State’s GMO labeling paradigm (PA 13-183); draft fracking waste controls (PA 14-200); require micro bead and pesticide phase outs (PA 15-5); launch the Long Island Sound Blue Plan (PA 15-66); and create several brownfield remediation programs (PA 14-88, 16-115).
I received endorsements and awards for my legislative service from, among others, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, CT Relators, and Stepping Stones Museum for Children. I was also awarded Legislator of the Year by the Connecticut Police Chief’s Association in 2016. After I left office in 2017, I served on the Board of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Best Buddies International, and several other charitable organizations.
Do you believe Connecticut needs reform when it comes to electric utility oversight? What steps, if any should be taken?
Yes. Sadly, due to a patent lack of experience and leadership, we are now reliving the storm and power problems we suffered in 2011 and 2012.
Indeed, after the 2011-12 storms and outages, the legislature passed PA 12-148 (An Act Enhancing Emergency Preparedness and Response) with unanimous bipartisan support. I was proud to work on and support the measure, which required our utilities and regulatory bodies to institute -- before a storm -- appropriate planning and preparedness coupled with penalties if need be.
During my six years in office -- and especially after the passage of PA 12-148 -- state and local officials met with UI and Eversource well before an expected storm to discuss emergency response plans, available crew numbers, staging areas, emergency power and charging stations, and estimated response times. During and after the storm we communicated with designated liaisons from both utilities to address what was happening on the ground, and to disseminate accurate and timely information to our constituents. This type of leadership was absent in 2020.
Instead, Rep Hughes and her other “progressive” colleagues now want to look past the existing law, and pass House Bill 5542 to punish utility executives after the storm, along with creating a new and unneeded state benefits system that is more expensive and less efficient than the system we passed in 2012 to help those hurt by prolonged power outages.
We can and must continue to reform and improve our electricity delivery system by looking forward, not point and blame looking backwards.
With that, rates cannot go up in this environment. Our citizens, legislators and regulators can and must demand that transmission companies do a better job managing repair and response times, and link any proposed rate increases to that metric. We can and should create built-in penalties and/or rate freezes for repeated failures.
Eversource must also create a more regional and responsive structure that can leverage their size while responding locally, swiftly and with rapid communication. Absent some renewed focus on these issues, we will again hear calls for breakups and/or complete government control of the grid, both of which are inferior choices.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
I will focus on the reentry needs of businesses and families following the pandemic closures. We should extend and/or waive certain tax and regulatory deadlines and fees, and ensure that state and federal funding helps the private sector. No more government to government transfers of funds.
More importantly, we need to publish a calander and stick to it. Our restaurants, small businesses and school-based vendors have been nearly destroyed by the uncertain guidance, fluid standards, and varying subjective metrics issued from Hartford.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
I have been and will be an advocate for greater local control of education and land use. I will continue to oppose forced regionalization of schools and services. I will also continue my fight against wasteful government spending, unpredictable tax and regulatory policies that inhibit job growth, and unfunded state and federal mandates.
I will also resume my effort to create a Special Transportation Fund Trustee to protect the people’s money from political shell games, and thereby avoid tolls.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I am a 26-year practicing attorney, specializing in commercial and corporate litigation, and I have an Environmental Law Degree. I am admitted in Connecticut and New York, all of the local federal courts, and the United States Supreme Court. I am proud to have an “AV” peer and judicial rating (highest ethics and skills ranking). I am a member of the ABA and Connecticut Bar Association, served as a Fact Finder/Arbitrator for the Connecticut Judicial Branch, and am a FINRA Arbitrator.
I was born in Brooklyn New York, attended high school in Westchester, and college at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I played semi-pro football for 21 years. I have three sons (24, 19, 15), and have coached youth football in Easton, Redding and Weston for over 15 years. Before being elected to the State house in 2010, I served on numerous local boards and commissions.
State Rep (135th Easton, Redding, Weston)(2011-17); Redding Zoning Commission (2004-10)(Vice Chair 2008-10); Redding WPCC (2006-10)(Chair 2008-10); Redding Parking Commission (2006-07)