NEWINGTON â€“ Two very different Garyâ€™s are vying for the House of Representativesâ€™ 27th district seat.
Republican incumbent Gary Byron hopes to begin a third term as State Representative, and his democratic opponent, newcomer Gary Turco, hopes his fresh optimism wins over voters.
Byron, a Newington native and small business owner, is promising to vote against tax increases, build the stateâ€™s workforce and approach every issue objectively.
â€śBeing transparent is of paramount importance in this position,â€ť Byron said. â€śI take this responsibility very seriously, which is why I've had both a perfect attendance and a 100% voting record in all four of my years. I feel I am not the Republican representative, I'm Newington's representative, and I've always approached my work this way.Â I look at just about everything objectively, and my votes support thisâ€¦ Choosing facts over bias or rhetoric is needed more now than ever. I believe this is why I have the strong support across party lines that I have.â€ťÂ
Turco, a former state policy analyst, has pledged to address gaps in education, make smarter investments and support green initiatives.
â€śI love our State of Connecticut and our Town of Newington,â€ť Turco said. â€śAlthough we do face many challenges ahead, where others see doom and gloom, I see opportunity for an even better and brighter future. That future depends on electing the right leadership and what I have heard over and over from talking to voters is that they donâ€™t want someone proposing the same solutions to solve the same problems; it just isnâ€™t working. Voters will get a leader in me who focuses on innovation, out-of-the-box thinking, and fresh ideas.â€ť
Byron advocates for strengthening education by better preparing students for jobs of the future. Turco wants to see focused-study programs be implemented at an earlier grade level.
â€śWe need to work together in order to eliminate the gap between employers and job seekers through business and public school collaborations,â€ť Byron said. â€śWe are doing great things with our STEM academies.Â I'd like to see the same with vocational education.â€ťÂ
He worked to restore $2 million in state aid for education in Newington and co-sponsored a bill to prevent further reductions.
â€śCurrently, Connecticut is doing a poor job in educating people in pro-growth industries where there are the most job opportunities,â€ť said Turco, who worked at Central CT State University and as a volunteer teacher in Africa. â€śWe need our educational system to be more responsive to workforce needs by better aligning educational and training programs with employer needs at our including high schools, tech schools, community colleges, and undergraduate and graduate institutions.â€ť
Byron would like to keep CT residents here through retirement by not continuing to raise the cost of living.
â€śI'm proud to say that I've never voted for a tax increase or to implement new taxes in either of the biennium budgets I've voted on,â€ť he said, also pointing out, â€śWe need to do everything we can to bring back well-paying jobs to the state. This starts by providing our businesses with predictability in budgeting, a lower cost environment and an educated work force.â€ť
To address the stateâ€™s stagnant economic growth, Turco suggests a proactive rather than reactive approach, while also making services more cost-effective and doing more with less.
â€śWe need to change our stateâ€™s culture to one that entices innovative entrepreneurship and small business growth by cutting red tape, reducing unnecessary fees, assisting with financing, and making government more customer-friendly,â€ť he said.Â â€śThese initiatives will help transform our stateâ€™s economy to one that can better compete and win in the 21stÂ Century, which will result in growth for incomes, and jobs for all residents.â€ť
The townâ€™s voting districts are all within House District 27 with the exception of 5 and 8, in Districts 24 and 29.
The 29th district is comprised of Rocky Hill and Wethersfield, with a few neighborhoods in Newington. Rocky Hill real estate agent Kerry Szeps Wood, a democrat, is vying for the 29th district seat against financial associate Andre Lanciotto. Both are new to the political arena.
The 24th district consists of New Britain and the southernmost end of Newington. Rick Lopes has represented it since 2012 and is being challenged by Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, a former school board president and democrat running on the republican ticket.
Also up for re-election is U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, who has served the 9th Senate District since 2013. His challenger is republican Matthew Corey, a Navy veteran from Enfield and small business owner.
Longtime Senator Paul Doyle will be leaving the 9th State Senate District and two newcomers are running to fill the seat: Republican Ed Charamut of Rocky Hill and democrat Matt Lesser of Middletown.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.