By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
Bristol Republican Town Committee hosted a meet and greet at Chippanee Country Club on Wednesday, March 28, to allow citizens a chance to mingle with the Republican gubernatorial candidates. Every person who spoke, talked about the need to fix Connecticut’s fiscal crisis and financial instability.
Jeffrey Caggiano, chair of the BRTC, said, “There was a lot of excitement this year for Republican candidates, and there are a lot of Republican candidates, very qualified candidates.” Caggiano introduced several of the candidates, allowing them a few minutes to address those gathered, and inform them of their plans as candidates for governor of Connecticut.
Peter Thalheim, who was unable to stay for the duration of the event, shared his six-point “Blueprint to SAve Connecticut.” Thalheim believes that no new taxes should be added, and the ones that exist should be lowered. He wants “sovereign immunity as a shield to unfunded pension obligations,” an “ending to binding arbitration,” “unconstitutionality of the 2017 SEBAC agreement,” something he refers to as “50 for 20,” or, 50 years of pay and pension for 20 years of work; and, “going to average,” which means that “all salaries, deductibles, benefits, contributions, and assumptions would be set at the fifty state average.”
Mark Lauretti currently serves as the mayor of Shelton, a position he has held for 27 years. Lauretti said his first order of business should he be elected as governor is to make Connecticut an affordable place to live.
“I run a city that is prospering,” said Lauretti. “We need someone in there [Governor] who understands the political landscape, the financial landscape of Connecticut, someone who has a history of demonstrating that they can achieve things in the current economic climate that no one else is doing, like, job creation, business growth, grand list growth, low taxes.”
Toni Boucher, a state senator, is an exploratory candidate.
“I think the future of Connecticut can be very bright, certainly better than now,” said Boucher. “Currently, we are the only state in the entire country that has not recovered from the recession and that is two terms of Governor Malloy that is really failing in lead ership and taking Connecticut and bringing it back to a state that we all know, we all love, that was low-cost, great education, great quality of life. Now we are highest cost; it has become so unaffordable people and jobs are leaving our state, and really threatening the future, but I believe that we can bring it back, I think we have great prospects for new leadership.”
Steve Obstinik said, “What matters is the mission, and we’ve all got to go on a mission to save this state,” while addressing the crowd. He also said that the next governor has the “be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” with the “walking” portion being fiscal issues, and the “chewing gum” referring to his area of concern; rebuilding the job market and economy.
David Stemerman said that Connecticut needs to be saved from financial crisis, and discussed the idea of growth, stemming from his background in business.
Mike Handler presented pamphlets that explain why he decided to run; “…because Connecticut’s fiscal health is on life support and I have the unique combination of private and public sector experience to fix it. The state’s out-of-control structural costs have stifled our economy and lead to historic tax increases. I restored fiscal integrity that allowed for meaningful investments in infrastructure and education in the City of Stamford. As your governo,r I will do the same and restore the health of our state and the well-being of our customers.”
Peter Lumaj is an attorney and small business owner who immigrated to America as a refugee three years ago. He said he plans to “downsize the government by 14 percent,” and to do so, hopes to make stricter screening processes and tighter requirements for those seeking state-provided aid.
Also present were candidates running for other offices such as, state Senator Art Linares, who is running for state treasurer. There were additional Republican gubernatorial candidates that did not attend this event.