State House and Senate positions are on the ballot in November. WLAD is profiling the candidates running in the 138th state House District of Danbury, Ridgefield and New Fairfield. Six-term Republican incumbent Jan Giegler is seeking reelection. She is being challenged by Democrat Henry Hall.
Giegler says she has a leadership role in the GOP caucus, has worked in a bipartisan manner and worked with constituents to cut through the red tape of state bureaucracy . She says during the last session, it was a challenge being in the minority. But she thinks a lot was accomplished by working across the aisle on the Public Safety Committee. Giegler says she has always tried to be an advocate for fiscal responsibility and to keep Connecticut a place that people want to call home. But she says the state has been going in the wrong direction when it comes to creating jobs and being a competitive business environment.
Hall is a 30 year Danbury resident who worked for GE Capital, and United Health among other companies. Hall says he decided to run to giveback to the community and try to make a difference.
Jobs, transportation and public safety are his key platforms. He says historically the biggest industries in Connecticut have been insurance, finance, precision manufacturing and defense. He notes that they are not hiring as fast as they used to, and he would like to expand what the state is known for. Hall says more must be done to bring in jobs in the biosciences, digital media and renewable energy.
Giegler says the Transportation Committee has dealt with a number of issues in the past year. One was the issue of border tolls. She says they are not the answer and the Danbury area would be unfairly impacted by their implementation. Metro North has been a big issue. She says there is no representation from Connecticut on the Metro North board, so there is no local control of decision that are made in New York. But she says with the new President of Metro North, there’s been a more open dialog.
Hall says the problem with Metro North is that it’s run out of New York and Connecticut doesn’t really have a say in what is being done. He would like to see other contracts looked into. There are things that can be done about congestion, he says including ridesharing, shuttle services and opening the existing railway that runs into Brewster. He says transportation dollars need to be brought to this side of the state because I-84 is well above capacity. He says the wear and tear on the roads caused by truck traffic can be reduced by increasing freight rail.
The 138th is a multi-town district stretching from Ridgefield through Danbury up to New Fairfield. Giegler says having the district redrawn two years ago, she’s working with a priority school district in Danbury and other schools that aren’t. When it comes to funding for the communities, Danbury as a city is entitled to certain bond money where Ridgefield and New Fairfield can use Small Town Economic Assistance Program grants. She says there are different concerns when it comes to policing as well because New Fairfield has a Resident State Trooper office.
Giegler says there’s been a push for regionalization at the state capital, including the attempted closing of the Southbury State Troopers Barracks on weekends. She fought against that. But she touted the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials regional planning group in their efforts working together.
Regionalization has a lot of advantages including for many services. He says it can help reduce costs when it comes to road salt, dispatch services and the like. But he notes it’s not a panacea.
Hall says every Connecticut resident needs to be provided with the opportunity for quality affordable education from pre-k through the workforce years. He says the forecast for the economy over the next 25 years predicts that people will have two or three careers. He says that shows a need for continuing education. He calls education one of the cornerstones of a prosperous Connecticut. Hall would like to see scholarship programs increased. He also suggests low-interest loans would be helpful to reduce the cost of a college education.
She is interested in tackling some broad priorities if elected to another term. One is to reduce the state’s deficit. Another is getting businesses in the state on track to growth again. In a wrap up message, she asked that constituents understand the issues and how people vote on a particular bill. She notes that there are bills that have pieces she would like to vote on, but other parts that would be detrimental to the community. She cited budget bills, in order to implement them, there are a lot of last minute add-ons that unnecessarily inflate spending.