Meet Southington’s candidates: 16th Senate District

We asked Southington’s Connecticut General Assembly candidates the following questions:

1) What should the General Assembly do over the next two years to help the state’s economy?

2) Other than the economy, what are the top issues the General Assembly must address in the next two years? Why?

3) Southington faced unique challenges from the state during the last budget season with $5.1 million in mid-year holdbacks to Southington’s education funding and a $27 million package for municipal grants that left Southington off the list. What did you (or would you have done) to represent the town during this process?

Here are their answers:

Rob Sampson, Republican

Rob Sampson

(Republican, Challenger)

1) Our state government needs new leadership and a new direction. I have worked hard to make the case for streamlining government, attracting businesses and promoting entrepreneurial activity by creating a reasonable and welcoming regulatory environment, protecting our first class education system, and highlighting the beauty of Connecticut and our quality workforce. To turn our state around and grow our economy, we must work to make Connecticut a more attractive place for everyone.

For businesses, cut regulations and corporate taxes. For seniors, prevent property tax increases and eliminate taxes on SS and pensions. For graduates, create an inviting and robust economy with jobs. This can be done. We can change our policies as a state to better compete and we can send a message to everyone that Connecticut’s future is bright and they are welcome here

I am proud to have introduced or co-sponsored over 100 bills that have become law since first being elected, many that are a great start to creating the changes above. I am hopeful to serve with a new governor and hopefully in a Republican majority that sees the way forward and ends the Dannel Malloy-era economic policies once and for all.

2) Jobs, taxes, and the states’ economy are the key issues for this election. The Democratic candidates for governor and the legislature have little to offer but more growth of government and more taxes. Since they know this is a losing issue for them, they will attempt to distract by talking about social issues, attacking their opponents, and engaging in identity politics. My opponent has already begun by making polling calls designed to distort my record. I am hopeful that voters see through the phony claims of a Republican “war on women,” etc. My record is clear. I stand for freedom and opportunity for all citizens. I don’t separate people by their sex, gender, race, or anything else. Laws should not play favorites.

We need a real plan to restore our transportation infrastructure. This is a priority and can be accomplished within our existing revenues. We need to protect education funding for towns and restore as much local control of education as possible. We need to reverse bad laws recently passed like the national popular vote compact, the $500 million bailout of Hartford, and giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens. I suggest using part of the $500 million above to instead restore funding to the illegal gun trafficking taskforce and to create a grant program so towns can afford school resource officers for their schools.

3) Early in the 2017 budget process, it became clear there would be a move by Democrats to both raise taxes and cut aid to towns. In an effort to prevent this, I made a commitment to not vote for a budget that raises a single tax or cuts any aid to towns. As chairman of the legislature’s conservative caucus, I began to build support for an alternative path.

Our state government has been very poorly managed. The citizens are already paying more taxes than they should and there is no lack of revenue. We just need leaders who have good priorities and make good decisions.

My efforts led to a coalition of legislators that helped pass just such a budget through both chambers. Sadly, that budget was then vetoed by Malloy, and everyone was sent back to the drawing board.

Ultimately, what was known as the “compromise” budget was then passed with the unanimous support of Democrats and several Republicans. That budget cut aid to Southington, cut the Medicare Savings Program, raised taxes, and misspent money on the bailout of Hartford, and millions to renovate the XL center. I was proud to stand with the courageous (and correct) minority that voted against it.

Malloy then added insult to injury and made even deeper cuts to education aid to many towns including Southington. I was astounded and worked hard to convince my colleagues that this needed to be fixed. Many were already regretting their vote for the compromise budget and wanted a chance to correct their mistake. Finally in 2018, we managed to pass a budget fix that fully restored the town aid to Southington and many other towns across Connecticut.

I believe we are at a crossroads and this will be a tremendous year of decision. I encourage voters to support those of us who want to see our state become competitive again and who know that the state government needs to shrink and live within its means.

Vickie Nardello, Democrat

Vickie Nardello

(Democrat, Challenger)

1) To get our economy going and creating good-paying jobs, we first need to stop trying to pick winners or losers, and giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs elsewhere. We have to treat taxpayer dollars with respect, by ensuring that we hold ourselves accountable for everything we do to keep and attract businesses.

Second, we need to build on our competitive advantages as a state, starting with our highly-educated and productive workforce.  We need to simplify small-business regulations, and encourage towns to develop their own “one-stop shops” for helping entrepreneurs find the resources they need to start companies locally.

Finally, we need to reinvest in our communities, by prioritizing the funds that we do have for cleaning up contaminated brownfields; working with the University of Connecticut, Yale University, and other higher education partners to develop advanced-manufacturing and bioscience centers of research, innovation, and excellence; and promoting transit-oriented development to stimulate downtown neighborhoods.

2) In speaking to voters at their doors, two issues that come up frequently are the state budget and health care. Connecticut must move away from piecemeal solutions and adopt a long-term fiscal strategy. We must get spending under control and spending should be prioritized based upon need. The legislature should frequently evaluate the effectiveness of programs they fund. State agencies must be held accountable by providing reports and detailed requests before the Legislature makes final spending decisions. Particular attention must be paid to eliminating waste and duplication of efforts. As a state representative, I supported requiring performance measures of state agencies/commissions before approving any spending. In order to determine ways to economize, so that tax dollars are used wisely, I will look toward regionalization where feasible, changing how projects are put out to bid, implementing changes in the school construction process and consulting with employees to find savings. By maximizing savings, we can provide services to our most vulnerable populations, fund education, address infrastructure needs and stay within budget.

Health care is essential.  It should be affordable for all, including those who suffer from pre-existing conditions. Our Legislature needs to monitor health insurance increases and demand justification for any requested increases. I support measures to lower prescription drug costs and as a state representative supported Conn Pace and the Medicare Savings program the reduced drug costs for seniors. Possible changes at the federal level regarding pre-existing conditions and essential benefits will make it more important that states step in to protect the right to affordable health care.

3) One of the reasons I decided to run for this senate seat is my concern about the gridlock that I observed over the past two years.

In my time as a state representative, once the election was over I was a representative of the people regardless of party. I worked closely with the Republican administrations in my towns to address their needs and to solve problems. My experience has shown that taking extreme positions and failure to work with people regardless of party disadvantages your district when it comes to funding for education and grants.

Building relationships is an important political skill and working with people is critical to being an effective senator. Communicating frequently with town officials is key to success.

Together with the three Southington state representatives, we can advocate with the leadership of the Senate and the House on behalf of Southington to assure that Southington is being treated fairly.


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