By SHERIDAN CYR
Local politicians are already bracing for November 2018 state elections, ready to step up to the plate and extend their hands and services to residents of Southington and surrounding towns.
According to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, seven candidates have entered the race to represent Southington within their respective districts. Of the seven, five are running for new seats. Joe Aresimowicz (D-30) and John Fusco (R-81) are running for reelection of their current seats.
New candidates for the state legislature include Republican Gale Mastrofrancesco running for the 80th district, Democrat Ryan Rogers will challenge incumbent Fusco for the 81st district, and Republican Diane Pagano running for the 103rd district.
Current state representative Rob Sampson (R-80) seeks the 16th senatorial district, and current senator Joe Markley (R-16) seeks the position of lieutenant governor.
Mastrofrancesco, a Wolcott resident, has served the Wolcott Town Council for the past eight years, and has served as vice chair for six years. She also serves as chair of the negotiations committee and serves on the finance and ordinance committees.
“My eight years on the Town Council has given me the insight and experience to tackle tough issues and I do not let partisan politics influence my decisions,” said Mastrofrancesco. “I believe in putting people before politics.”
The Wolcott councilor said she has a deep understanding of the budget process and issues facing the communities.
“I have experienced first-hand how the mismanagement and overspending of Governor [Dannel] Malloy and the Democratic-controlled legislature has impacted our towns,” she said. “The tax-and-spend policies by the Democrats have crippled our state and unless there is a dramatic change in course, this will continue to hurt everyone in our community: senior citizens, children’s education, businesses and jobs, and our property taxes.”
Mastrofrancesco said her priorities will be to reduce the tax burden, control state spending, reduce the size of government and ensure Southington and Wolcott receive their fair share of funding.
Rogers will challenge Fusco, a Republican who entered office two years ago and is running for reelection.
“I want to provide the town of Southington with a strong advocate, willing to objectively represent all members of our community,” he said. “We all need someone fighting for our best interests in Hartford, whether it’s to ensure the safety and future of our children; that more people have access to good jobs, education and housing; or that our cost of living doesn’t become too much of a hurdle for our seniors to survive.”
The 81st district is the only one that represents just Southington. Rogers’ experience in town includes a past position as alternate on the Planning and Zoning Commission, a current alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals, and a member of the Commission on Disabilities.
“I think one of the defining issues of our time is health care access and affordability,” Rogers said. “Healthcare costs have become a strain on those who can afford it and taxing to those who can’t. I will make it a priority to seek out ways to ensure coverage is more affordable in our state.”
Rogers also pointed out high energy costs across the state. He urges the consideration of heavier investment in renewable resources like wind and solar. He also seeks to continue progress in improving the budget process and eliminating the need for regular mitigation due to the deficit.
Pagano, a resident of Cheshire, comes equipped with over 25 years of working in “Corporate America.” She has earned the title of Securities America National Assistant of the Year. She said that she has worked with unions and has the ability to develop processes and people which improve effectiveness and cut costs.
After being laid off in 2011, Pagano said that she learned to adjust her lifestyle. In 2015, she built her own company from the ground up. “It is a success because of my tenacity, experience and gumption,” she said.
“I am passionate about less spending, lower taxes and limited government,” Pagano said. “Malloy and I have different views on these common sense values of government should be run. The current administration believes taxing the hard working residents of Connecticut will get us out of this deficit.”
Sampson and Markley have both campaigned as strong voices for a conservative government throughout their careers. Markley entered the State Senate in 1984. His leap into the race for lieutenant governor pits him against four other candidates.
“When I made the decision to run for lieutenant governor, the only question in my mind was whether I could raise the money,” Markley said. “It quickly became clear that I could, and indeed have, and since then there’s been no thought of turning back. If I lost the race for lieutenant governor, I will indeed be out of elected office.”
Markley previously told The Observer that he would not have made the leap if he did not feel confident his potential successor, Sampson, could get the job done. Sampson is currently running for Markley’s senate seat unopposed.
“I feel very confident in my candidacy and in my abilities,” Sampson said. “At this point in the race, it would be very difficult for another candidate to enter and campaign against me.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.