In the district that includes Redding, a retired businessman who serves on the local school board is challenging a one –term incumbent.
Democrat Leon Karvelis was a New York City Public School teacher, before becoming a financial advisor and analyst on Wall Street. He ran the municipal research group at CitiBank, subsequently Merrill Lynch and then ran largest group of state and local government analysts in the country with MBIA outside the rating agencies.
Since his retirement in 2003 he’s been doing community service. He was appointed to the financial oversight committee of the Region 9 schools and touts his work to save taxpayers $1.5 million by helping to refund a big chunk of the school district debt that’s outstanding. He now wants to address the state’s fiscal situation.
Karvelis says he would like to see more education reform to happen. He wants kids to be ready when they get to Kindergarten for a life of learning. He says teachers are still teaching to a test even though the CMT and CAPT have been swapped for another test. He is concerned with funding mandates of teacher and administrator evaluations enacted in the reform package last year.
Karvelis says there are a lot of unfunded mandates in the state and if elected, he would like to see how the mandates could be recalculated.
Karvelis calls Route 7 a Victorian corset structure where traffic is fine, gets congested in fewer lanes and then is fine again. He would like to work on ways to encourage people to take mass transit. He would like to see the Danbury branch of the Metro North like electrified and extended to New Milford.
Karvelis says he would like the $250 Business Entity Tax to be eliminated saying it costs more to administer than it probably taxes in. He notes that he is not in favor of retroactive taxes and would not have voted for it.
Republican incumbent state Representative John Shaban is seeking his second term.
One of the key pieces of legislation Shaban touted from his first term in office is a proposal that now requires Connecticut Siting Council applications for new cell towers to work with the municipality where the tower would be located. He says while improving access to technology is a good thing; the state needs to proceed with caution in protecting the aesthetics and safety of residents. Cell tower can’t be placed within 250 feet of a school or commercial daycare center.
Shaban also touted his work in reconvening Connecticut Continuing Care Retirement Communities Advisory Committee. He described the committee as being put in place to monitor the financial affairs of these types of communities across the state, noting that typically residents pay large upfront fees to move into retirement communities. The Communities are required to maintain a reserve fund to be able to pay a portion back when residents move or to pay it to their estate. The Department of Social Services Commissioner will appoint members to an unpaid advisory committee to protect these communities.
Shaban has been outspoken about the budget implementer bills voted on during a special session. He says the bills were bloated with more spending and gimmicks. In clarifying “gimmicks” he said there were pet projects and new programs that never came up for a public hearing during the regular session. One in particular was a provision that was eventually removed, that Shaban said would have prevented public disclosure of information about grants by the state to projects such as Jackson Labs and the First Five program.
Shaban says despite the largest tax increase in state history, Connecticut is still confronted by a multi-million dollar deficit. He says as borrowing, spending and taxes go up; revenue and the bond rating go down.