NEWINGTON - Those who havenâ€™t met him already can expect to see a new face at their door this summer.
Democrat Gary Turco recently announced his campaign for State Representative of Newingtonâ€™s 27th District, challenging Republican Gary Byron, who is running for a third term in November.
Turco was the only Democrat to step forward in the race as of earlier this week, with a nomination expected from the townâ€™s Democratic Committee Thursday evening.
The 37-year-old Newington homeowner most recently managed the business development of digital technology start-up companies and spent several months as a volunteer teacher of elementary-aged students in Uganda. Prior to that, he worked as a policy analyst for the State of Connecticut for over a decade.
Turco holds a bachelorâ€™s degree in political science from Sacred Heart University, where he worked as an admissions counselor, and a masterâ€™s degree in communications from Central Connecticut State University. He grew up in New Yorkâ€™s Westchester County and settled in Newington in 2010, where he served on the town Plan & Zoning commission.
He chose Newington for a few reasons, the same leading his campaign for its representation at the state level.
â€śI looked for a community where I felt like people really cared about making it a better place,â€ť Turco said. â€śWhat I love about Newington is that itâ€™s a values-oriented, close-knit, middle-class community with hard-working people.â€ť
His wide-ranging professional experience in the private sector, higher education and state government has led him to pursue several different focuses.
â€śWe need to invest in human capital, workforce development and make sure higher education is aligning with the industries where jobs are available,â€ť Turco said. â€śSurrounding states are growing but we are not. We need to be doing things differently at the Capitol. If youâ€™re not willing to think out of the box and try new solutions youâ€™re bound to fail.â€ť
A major priority is helping small businesses succeed, to grow the stateâ€™s economy and build a more progressive workforce. Coming from a family of small business owners, he says, these particular people are â€śnear and dearâ€ť to his heart.
Turco calls his approach â€śpolitical courage,â€ť citing the need to tackle the stateâ€™s stagnant economy and overall low morale.
â€śIâ€™m willing to make the tough decisions that wonâ€™t necessarily be popular right away but will set us up for a better future,â€ť he explained. â€śMaking cuts in spending and finding new sources of revenue are going to help in the long term, bringing people to Connecticut and keeping people here.â€ť
That includes reforming property taxes with an eventual shift to an income-based system.
â€śIâ€™m hoping to be a champion for the middle class,â€ť Turco said. â€śThe cost of living is getting higher and weâ€™re not getting any relief. Keeping community colleges and state universities affordable is definitely a priority of mine. We struggle with a commitment to higher education in this country.â€ť
Former State Rep. Sandy Nafis is already advocating for the political newcomer.
â€śGary Turco combines a level of knowledge and fresh new leadership that Newington needs fighting for us at the Capitol,â€ť she said.
As he meets residents over the next few months, Turco said, he will be listening.
â€śI want people to share with me their concerns, their needs. I want them to know Iâ€™m someone they can trust who will fight for them.â€ť
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.