106th DISTRICT ‘Tone’ and taxes
NEWTOWN - The two candidates running to represent Newtowners in the state House of Representatives consider themselves consensus-builders who achieve results through collaboration.
That’s important for two reasons, according to Democratic challenger Rebekah Harriman-Stites and Republican Mitch Bolinsky, who is seeking a fourth two-year term representing the 106th District in Hartford.
First, bipartisanship is necessary to rebuild Connecticut’s lagging economy, the challenger and incumbent agree. Secondly, bipartisanship is necessary to unite communities that have been divided by partisans in Washington, D.C.
“The message I have been hearing is that people are ready for a change in tone - they don’t like the way it has been so negative,” said Harriman-Stites, 40, the co-founder of a consulting firm and the vice president of the Newtown Board of Education.
“They feel if change is going to come it has to come from a positive direction, because no one wants to hear any more mudslinging,” Harriman-Stites said. “Both parties blaming each other is not what is best for Connecticut.”
Harriman-Stites and Bolinsky are running in a supercharged November midterm election that features a race to replace unpopular Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and Congressional races where unpopular GOP President Donald Trump is often a top campaign issue.
Bolinsky agrees that political leadership transcends party priorities.
“I never promote a piece of legislation that I don’t work on hand-in-hand with folks on the other side of the aisle,” said Bolinsky, 60, a marketing consultant who serves on the state legislature’s Appropriations Committee, Education Committee, and Aging Committee.
“I have no concern whatsoever whether someone is Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated or unregistered,” Bolinsky said. “I care about all 25,000 people in Newtown.”
The 106th District is almost contiguous with Newtown’s border, except for small section of 2,500 people who are part of the 112th District and an even smaller section of 500 people who are part of the 2nd District.
Harriman-Stites said Connecticut’s problems of unfunded pension liability and corporations leaving the state started before Malloy took office eight years ago, and those problems cannot be solved by partisans.
Instead, she said, state government needs to adopt a business-like spirit of overcoming institutional obstacles.
“I believe, while it is important to try to get big business to come to Connecticut, we cannot ignore small business,” Harriman-Stites said. “We have to make it easier for people to be entrepreneurial by creating a one-stop shop for certifications, to allow people to be creative.”
Bolinsky said Republican budget-cap measures that have been adopted to control state government spending are part of a larger structural reform in Hartford that will eventually help Connecticut’s economy turn the corner.
Connecticut’s economy can rebound with lower rates of taxes, he said, if Hartford can stimulate growth.
“I am worn out by one thing I hear when I go door-to-door: I can’t stand to listen to people tell me ‘I can’t wait to get out of Connecticut as soon as my kids get out of high school,’” Bolinsky says. “Right now we are screwed up fiscally, but we can fix this thing.”