Democratic State Representative David Arconti is seeking another term in office representing Danbury. Republican Veasna Rouen is running against him in the 109th state House district, a rematch of the 2016 race.
Arconti says there was a lot that got done in the short session. He touted a bipartisan state budget, increasing the rainy day fund and restoring education funding for the City. He co-wrote legislation with GOP members of the delegation in order to get higher reimbursement for school construction at the STEM Academy. He says that will help save taxpayers money in the long term. He wrote a section on the state energy bill to increase the RFP percentage from 4 to 6, allowing more bids. Danbury-based FuelCell was awarded some of those projects, adding new employees.
Rouen was born in Cambodia and has lived in Danbury since 1982. He served 10 years in the Army National Guard. Rouen served in Bosnia after 9/11 and did combat operations in Afghanistan in 2006-07. He then got a degree from WCSU in pre-law. He has worked in labor and economic development at the state level. Rouen wants the state to follows Danbury lead and implement some of the government streamlining that the City has implemented. He says cutting regulations and taxes will make it a less expensive place to do business and more attractive to families.
Arconti supports the transportation funding lockbox. As for tolls, he is opposed to bringing them back. Arconti says it will be burdensome on residents.
Rouen opposes tolling. He says the money for infrastructure is there, but it’s moved into the general fund for use on other projects. Rouen says vehicle registrations, car property taxes and gas taxes should be sufficient to fund the needed work. He disagrees with creating a Transportation Authority, noting that it would take the decision making power out of the legislature’s hands. Rouen caution that that could lead to tolling without legislative approval.
Aid to municipalities is about a quarter of the budget and Arconti believes some more regionalization will need to happen. Arconti says having regional health departments could help streamline inspections of day care centers, restaurants and the like. He says some of the back office functions at the state level should be regionalized, especially when it comes to higher education. Arconti says WCSU has been aggressive in marketing the school to new students, which should help stem the need for tuition hikes.
Rouen is concerned with the Board of Regants for Higher Education, calling it a bureaucracy that’s led to tuition hikes. He’d like to eliminate the Board and concentrate that funding and resources back to the schools. He says having the schools make their own decisions will lead to better services for students.
Rouen says he doesn’t have extensive knowledge about the challenges facing Candlewood Lake, but if there’s any way he could help solving issues, he would work toward that goal.
Arconti says Candlewood is facing a number of water quality challenges. He and other members of the delegation determined that environmental preservation fit the mission of the Community Investment Act, which was created for open space preservation, farmaland preservation and affordable housing. They defined that set of funds to battle invasive species across the lake. It got out of committee, but time ran out for action on the measure. He wants to reintroduce the measure, if reelected.
Rouen is not opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana. He wants the federal government to change the classification so it’s not in the same class of drug as heroin. He would like to see age restrictions so that teenagers aren’t allowed to use it.
Arconti wants to have further discussions about legalizing recreational marijuana. He would be open to it, especially with more neighboring states approving similar measures. Acronti says having no regulatory environment here could create more problems. As for sports betting, he says it’s happening already so Connecticut should regulate it. But he notes that the compact with the tribes makes it more difficult. They argue that the compact, signed in the 90s, gives them jurisdiction of online betting. But Arconti says that wasn’t in existence at the time. He thinks the negotiations between the Governor and the tribes this summer was far too restrictive and didn’t make sense for people in Western Connecticut. People would have had to go to a physical location like at OTB facility or the eastern Connecticut casinos. Arconti says by regulating it, sports betting would be taken out of the shadows and be a revenue generator.