2012 voter's guide

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Connecticut Senate District 33

Three candidates are running for the 33rd state Senate seat covering all or parts of Clinton, Westbrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Haddam, East Haddam, East Hampton, Portland, Lyme, Colchester, and Old Saybrook. Incumbent Senator Eileen Daily is not running for re-election. Democratic candidate James Crawford is the state Representative for the 35th district covering Clinton, Killingworth and Westbrook. Republican candidate Art Linares has worked for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and started a solar energy company based in Middletown, according to the candidate’s website. Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag participated in a campaign to defeat the Connecticut River land swap proposal.
Choose two candidates from below to compare.
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    James Crawford (Dem) Retired Classroom Teacher, State Legislator

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    Art Linares (Rep) Small Business Owner

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    Melissa Schlag (Grn) Business owner: contractor, carpenter, properties manager

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Biographical Information

The state continues to suffer under heavy budget deficits. The budget passed last session is not doing the job as promised. What can be done now to bring the budget under control?

What are your plans for economic development? How will you assist new and existing businesses in your district?

What are the top three state-level challenges you feel are facing the community you represent—please address your answers in order of priority.

What are your plans to help seniors survive in the still-struggling economy? How will you help them get and keep the health benefits they need?

What fundamental change or current policy would you support, at the state level, to best assist with improving educational opportunities for school districts in the towns you represent?

What is the most significant environmental issue impacting the district you hope to represent and how would you propose addressing it?

Campaign Phone (860) 399-0260
Email (for publication) jim@jimcrawfordforsenate.com
Age 64
Are you an incumbent for this seat? No
Family Wife--Elaine, Daughter--Meredith, Son--Nick
Education BA Providence College History, MS SCSU Urban Studies, MS SCSU Psychology
Civic Involvement Westbrook Foundation (Vice Chairman), Old Saybrook/Westbrook Exchange Club (Past President), Westbrook Friends of the Library Fundraisers (Treasurer), Westbrook Economic Development Commission (Chairman)
Elected/appointed offices held Board of Selectmen Town of Westbrook 2007 through 2011 State representative 2011-current
Other government service United States Army Veteran 1972-1974
We have not successfully balanced the budget to date, but the shortfall is less than 1% of the total for the state. This is still unacceptable, but is much more manageable. We need to find more efficiencies in the current spending, resist new spending, and then balance the new biennial budget with no new taxes.
Establish an environment that is attractive to job creators. Incentives, outreach, streamlining permitting procedures are all part of this package. Providing abatement for local businesses is an excellent way to stimulate growth and reinvigorate communities.
Job Creation is the key to any successful recovery. The climate needs to be conducive to expansion.

Attainable Housing is needed to help retain our 25 to 35 year old citizens. We have one of the worst records in the country for keeping our young families in this state.

Addressing upgrades for Technical Schools and Community Colleges to meet the needs of students in a new economy. Employers can't fill hundreds of jobs in CT because the skilled workers are not available.
We adjusted the income level for seniors to remain insured last spring in the 2012 Legislative Session. There is never a right time to make health care less accessible to seniors. I co-sponsored the creation of the Aging in Place Task Force last spring that will study creative ways to make it possible for seniors to stay in their homes. This is a win-win for both seniors and the state. It will lower the number of folks moving into assisted living facilities and bring down costs while providing the opportunity to stay in your own familiar surroundings
I fully support the belief that the federal and state governments should fund 100% of Special Education costs. These are often very burdensome to communities in our district and can be largely unpredictable based on student transfers. Fair and equal treatment of children with special needs demands that funding should be secure and that parents shouldn't have to "shop districts" to find programs that will best meet their child's educational requirements. We, also, need to end the effort to push every child into a four year college. This is fundamentally disrespectful to the varied talents of our school children. Many talented kids never have the opportunity to enhance their skills because our school systems don't nurture diversity of interests. Technical, hands on, talents are not properly nourished. Hence, jobs that require these skills go unfilled. A real waste!!
Water, Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, is the most dominant characteristic in this district. Special vigilance is required to ensure that these resources are protected and continue to be enhanced. The quality of life in the district is our most cherished asset. It must be safeguarded.
Campaign Phone (203) 645-9215
Email (for publication) manager@artlinares.com
Age 25
Are you an incumbent for this seat? No
Family Father - Luis Linares Mother - Robin Linares Sister - Brittany Linares Brother - Ryan Linares
Education Bachelors Degree in Entrepreneurship from the John Sykes College of Business.
Civic Involvement Raised $25,000 for the Westbrook High school fitness Center Volunteer for Youth and Family Services Volunteered for John Huntsman Cancer Institute
Elected/appointed offices held Angel Ride Participant
Other government service Worked for Senator Marco Rubio in Washington D.C.
We need to create a more efficient government and stop wasteful spending in Hartford. This starts by ending abuse of government expenditures. We need to create jobs and expand the tax base in the private sector.
My business has created hundreds of jobs in the construction industry. I want to bring that knowledge to Hartford, and put our people back to work. We must eliminate burdensome government regulations and red tape which prevent small businesses from growing. I will fight to reduce taxes on small businesses, while helping to improve the state’s attitude towards businesses.
Our unemployment is our most pressing priority. We need to have more people working so we can expand the tax base. Second, Taxes are too high on income, gasoline, food and clothing, it creates a bad environment for business and for the consumer. Third, fiscal irresponsibility in Hartford can’t continue. When you spend and then call for higher taxes to balance the budget, you’re not making a hard decision you are making an irresponsible decision. If our citizens need to live within their means so does Hartford.
Seniors are our states greatest asset. They are the history of our families and our communities. I have always said that they have paid their dues and played by the rules. They deserve the full support of our government. Here on this issue we can never afford to fall short. Making Ct more not less affordable is the quickest way to keep our seniors in their homes and with their families.
A good education is a good and productive work force for our state in the future. Parents know best how to educate their children. Our state should not legislate without proper funding. It creates a burdensome financial problem for the local communities and can hurt the educational achievements of some school districts. Hartford should not legislate on education policy if it does not properly fund it.
My District includes both shoreline and river towns. The natural beauty of these areas is our greatest natural resource. It defines our community and it is the reason so many people call this area home. Its protection is paramount for it is our character as a community that is at stake.
Email (for publication) schlagforsenate@hotmail.com
Age 39
Are you an incumbent for this seat? No
Education University of Connecticut, B.A.(English/Psychology) 1996
Civic Involvement Founder and executive director of Citizens for Protection of Public Lands, a group dedicated to preserve state owned open space (www.landswap.org). Civic journalist and business editor for the local town newspaper, The Haddam Bulletin, a 50 year old civic journal. Formed a civic film club to videotape, and post on YouTube and community access cable channels, all town/board and other important meetings in Haddam and surrounding towns.
Elected/appointed offices held Chairman, Senior Tax Abatement Committee; Chairman, Anti Blight Committee; Treasurer, A Better Haddam Party; Executive Director, Citizens for Protection of Public Lands
Other government service Student Director of Dining Services at the Alumni branch of UConn's Storrs Campus, 1993-1996: managed more than 100 student employees. Student Marketing Director of the Deparment of Dining Services (Storrs Branch) 1995-1996 Student Catering Manager (UConn Storrs) 1993-1995
First, reforming the tax structure is critical to Connecticut’s success. Currently, the middle class pays double the taxes (state and local) that the wealthiest in the state pay as a percentage of their income. Connecticut is the richest state in the nation, yet per income level has the second highest rate of income inequality. This burden on the middle class hurts the economy by unfairly reducing their disposable income. Connecticut needs to utilize the Tax Incidence Analysis, a system that provides statistical data to more fairly assess how taxes impact each class and allows the state to make the necessary and proper adjustments to our tax structure. Second, many corporations do not have to disclose their income as a result of interstate loop holes, costing us hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. We need to institute Combined Mandatory Reporting, which accurately measures the profit and loss attributable to the corporate tax payer’s activity in the state.
We need to stop the corporate welfare to companies that can clearly stand on their own and instead invest in businesses that will hire more middle class employees or increase production of manufactured goods. Governor Malloy’s First Five program is misdirected and is adding to the deficit without creating those middle class jobs. For example, the wealthiest hedge fund in the world, with over $130 Billion in assets, has been located in Westport for over 30 years. Through the First Five program, Malloy has awarded this billion-dollar corporation $115 Million for their expansion to Stamford. Connecticut taxpayers should not be burdened with one additional tax dollar of bonded debt to support these speculative projects. Instead, I would target this money to help existing or start-up small and medium sized businesses throughout the state, which create our middle class jobs. Reinvest in our middle class, the real economic engine of our state, who will then reinvest in Connecticut.
The top three challenges are: reforming the unfair tax structure, including the regressive property tax; job creation and funding the mandates the state places on our towns and schools.

Income tax, small business tax and the regressive property tax structures are placing unfair economic burdens on the middle class.

As the middle class shrinks, so does job growth. We need to reinvest in the middle class, which means incentives for local businesses, established and new.

Unfunded mandates are adding debilitating financial burdens on our school systems, which is indeed funneled down to each tax payer in local communities.
As chair of the tax abatement committee in my town, I am well aware of the burdens our seniors face. Alleviating the regressive property tax burden will provide immediate relief to seniors who wish to stay in our communities.

There are many things we can do to alleviate the pressure on our seniors; I would push for property tax relief for seniors over 65 in the form of higher tax abatement proportional to their income or instituting a Home Exemption, Circuit Breaker or Long-Time Occupant Homestead Exemption Plan. All of which would reduce their property tax burden significantly.

To ensure quality health benefits for seniors, we need to have stricter oversight for Medicare billing, reducing the fraud that drives cost up.

We should also provide seniors access to qualified health care managers who will not only help them navigate the confusing billing and benefit process but who will also drive costs down by reducing billing mistakes, erroneous charges and fraud.

Building the foundation of education is our future.

This foundation needs to be as strong as it can in order for our children, pre-kindergarten and up, to have a better life.

Connecticut is falling behind and without a strong, learning enabled child; we cannot grow a strong, educated adult.

There are no immediate remedies but the state needs to be involved at every step financially and with a transparent and fair structure.

Our schools should prioritize student achievement first and foremost and our finance system should incentivize practices that produce quality learning but operate with enough transparency that policymakers can determine what works and what doesn’t.

We also need to revamp the state’s funding formula so that money follows children based on their needs and identify all education finances by creating a comprehensive and easily accessible data system on school funding.

Every single child has the fundamental right to a quality education.
The first issue is the precedent-setting Haddam Land Swap. It was Senator Eileen Daily who enacted a bill to overturn a conservation deed to 17 acres of property overlooking the Connecticut River. This unethical backroom deal overturned a conservation deed in order to swap this wildlife management area to a single private developer which could have consequences for decades to come. Thanks to the efforts of the organization that I co-founded (Citizens for Protection of Public Lands), the deal was not consummated and we saved the tax payers of Connecticut $900,000. We need legislation to overturn this swap as well as stop this type of waste and abuse, institute conveyance bill reform and continue to protect all existing open space. The second environmental issue in my district is the lack of remediation of a 30 year old Trichloroethylene brownfield contamination in the Tylerville section of Haddam which needs immediate action and is sad indictment of unethically slow remediation.

Editor's note: Responses were submitted by candidates and have not been edited for content.