Candidates for Farmington’s 21st state House District joined the Farmington Exchange Club Thursday night for a forum.
The candidates, current state Rep. Bill Wadsworth and Town Councilor Mike Demicco, introduced themselves to the members, giving biographies, qualifications and sharing the principles that would guide their work at the Capitol. After their introductions, they then answered three preselected questions, read by moderator and Club President John Javaruski.
Wadsworth began, touting his years of experience – a member of the 13th generation of Wadsworths in Farmington, 20 years in the construction industry, service on 36 local boards and commissions in the past 10 years and 11 on the Town Council.
"One of the positive things I bring is private sector experience. With 20 years in the construction business, I've had a lot of experience dealing with people, materials and issues that come up and dealing with the world in a competitive environment," he said.
He named concern for his children and grandchildren, as well as those struggling in failing schools across Connecticut, as his motivation for seeking reelection to a second term.
“I’m very concerned about their future, given the current state of affairs with the state of Connecticut and federal government,” Wadsworth said, pointing to shrinking employment opportunities and increasing debt. “I believe in low taxes for everyone. I want you to have the opportunity to spend your money where you want and not have to give it to the government.”
Wadsworth said he learned the secret formula for a high quality of life and low taxes while on the Town Council in Farmington.
“[My time on the Town Council] told me that government could provide excellence in education, a high quality of life and at the same time pay low taxes for it. …That needs to be applied not just to other municipalities but also to the state of Connecticut itself,” Wadsworth said.
Demicco couched his presentation in the idea that, as a member of the majority party and a passionate advocate for the town, he would be “a stronger voice for Farmington.” He promised to fight for a balance between taxes and services, and for fairness, including Farmington’s fair share of Education Cost Sharing and PILOT funds.
“We’ve been flat-funded with regard to our education cost sharing money,” Demicco explained. “There have only been about a dozen towns that received the same amount of money last time as this. I don’t know why but I know the legislature is looking at redoing the formula and I would like to be at the table.”
He said he would bring a fair and balanced approach to taxes.
“We all know taxes are a necessary evil and no one likes taxes but rather than looking at it as an expense, I look at it as an investment… that provides a service, a social safety net for people,” Demicco said.
There are ways to trim the state budget, Demicco said, but the majority of the state budget is spent on necessary programs like Medicare reimbursement, public safety, roads and education.
“When people talk about ‘let’s cut the state budget’ we have to be very careful. There is a significant portion of things we can cut – eliminate loopholes, outdated exemptions, do something about the excessive reliance on property taxes.
He defended the work Gov. Dannel Malloy has begun in consolidating state agencies and encouraging regionalization. He also said to encourage job creation and retention, the state should invest in job training and look into possible expanding the partnership betweens business and education; improve the state’s transportation infrastructure and lower energy costs.
In contrast, Wadsworth said government needs to get out of the way of job creation.
“Government has to incentivize people to create jobs. Instead, we had the largest tax increase in the history of the state of Connecticut,” Wadsworth said.
The candidates will appear again in a forum sponsored by the Farmington Chamber of Commerce Oct. 23 at Farmington High School at 7 p.m.