The Farmington Chamber of Commerce's Candidate Forum was sparsely attended Tuesday night, with about 40 people listening from the audience in the Farmington High School auditorium. Candidates, state Sen. Terry Gerratana (D-6), state Rep. Brian Becker (D-9), state Rep. Bill Wadsworth (R-21) and his challenger Mike Demicco, a Democratic member of the Farmington Town Council addressed the audience, then took questions submitted by the audience.
The attached video shows the candidates talking about how to reverse the state's reputation as anti-business. Below are excerpts from their closing statements:
Gerratana: Why I’m running for reelection is because I feel very strongly that my experience counts and consistency counts. My main focus has been on job creation here in Connecticut and boosting our economy. I vowed to do everything to help central Connecticut get back on our feet and be part of the economic recovery in our state that’s starting to happen.
I voted for Jackson Labs and the UConn Health Center expansion. I supported education reform that has brought more resources to communities like New Britain and that will also help to educate our new workforce.
I actively worked to bring badly needed renovations to Berlin High School [and supported] work training wage subsidies and… finally I wrote and initiated legislation that facilitates our health insurance change to ensure that Connecticut residents have affordable health care options.
I urge voters to choose me November 6. I believe the work I and those of my party have done have put the state on the path to a very successful future.
Becker: It has been a great honor to serve the 19th district. Thank you for sending me to Hartford in the first place. It’s a great job, as hard as it might be, I look forward to being there each and every day and I have been there each and every day [except one sick day]. The great part is you meet new people and learn new things and struggle with issues that are of importance to people across the state. I take the role very seriously and do my best to study the issues and make the right call on various issues. I’m always thinking about jobs and what would be best for the community. So I ask for your support again this November to return me to the House for another 2 years.
Demicco: My wife and daughters will not be surprised to hear this. I’m running for this position because I enjoy a challenge and because I believe I’m up for it. I have represented the people of Farmington on the Town Council for the last 7 years. I have enjoyed it immensely and I am looking forward to the new challenge of serving the people of Farmington in a larger capacity in the legislature.
I believe I bring a different perspective to the legislature. I believe in a balanced approach – it’s within my nature fundamentally to take a balanced approach to taxes and services. I tell people don’t expect me to be the guy who offers you the greatest services or the lowest taxes. If you go too far to one extreme or the other, it results in problems. I believe in fairness and compassion and judicious decisions based on a balanced view of the situation.
And on a practical level, I believe I can get more done for the town of Farmington as a member of the majority caucus in the legislature. We have a Democratic governor and a Democratic assembly and I’m hopeful in January we will have a Democratic legislator in the 21st District of the state of Connecticut … I can use this knowledge and relationships with leadership of the state of Connecticut to get things done …in order to benefit everyone in the state of Connecticut. One of my main goals is to get more state money for Farmington in order to benefit us at the municipal level and ease the burden of property taxes on residents. I believe I can be effective and ask you for the opportunity to do so.
Wadsworth: The two revelations I saw down at the State Capitol were the need for high quality education and private sector job growth – both things I had some awareness prior to going down there but being there really reinforced the need.
Business people make business decisions and they don’t particularly care about the locale. They care about the educated workforce that’s going to perform for them but in this day and age that can be moved without too much trouble.
I got on the appropriations committee by request and it’s a hardworking committee…. But I wanted to be there because that’s where the money is spent. I went over some parameters as to where we are as state of Connecticut: we’ve had no net job growth in the state in the last 20 years. When you look at the state budget from 1990 …and today… it’s the same amount of people paying for an increase in the size of government. I think we can do better so those people can have disposable income in their pockets to do what they want with or take care of basic needs.
We have a shrinking gross domestic product and we have unfunded liabilities… the largest per taxpayer debt in the nation. That’s why we just had our bond rating decreased recently.
How are you going to solve problems if you continue to increase taxes without making significant cuts like we did in the past year? …We’ve got to do a better job of keeping control of expenditures of the government.
To that end, …Connecticut Business and Industry… scored me 100 percent on the issues important to them and they also endorsed me as a candidate. The National Federation of Independent Business also scored me by 100 percent on what’s going to promote the interests of the private sector. On education issues, we have an achievement gap that’s increasing as we talk and is 20-30 years old and not improving. Seventy percent of the state’s school districts are not performing. We’re sending 540,000 children to schools, of which 378,000 are not getting the education that they should …We need to do something significant to correct it. I support the education bill but I reflect on my time here in Farmington. We have fully involved parents, fully involved administration and teachers and we do a good job. We need to take that model and put it through the state of Connecticut so every child can have the education they deserve.