Republican Toni Boucher is looking to get back into politics. The former longtime state legislator is running for her old seat, the 26th Senate District. She spent 12 years in the House and 10 in the Senate. Boucher says efforts to regionalize schools and zoning, more regulations on businesses and higher taxes prompted her to get back into the fight.
Democrat Ceci Maher is also running for the open seat. She holds a masters in Social Work from Columbia and worked 14 years as Executive Director of an organization called Person-to-Person. They provide food to those in need, and tackle issues such as housing insecurity, education access and summer programs for children. She most recently served as interim Executive Director of Sandy Hook Promise.
Maher says Connecticut should make its gun safety laws stronger. She says the impact of trauma due to gun violence on people never goes away. She wants to bring community-based initiatives on violence prevention to the state level. She added that the ghost gun law doesn't go far enough and would work to strengthen the law.
Boucher wants to renew her focus on transportation. She says the electric grid needs to be updated as well. Boucher also wants to focus on education issues again. She is concerned with the current top down, heavy handed approach to state government. She says the pandemic prompted her to also want to take on mental wellness issues for children.
On the issue of reproductive freedom, Maher says Connecticut is on the right side of the issue. She would uphold the state's laws and called the latest Supreme Court ruling unconscionable. When it comes to early voting, Maher supports expansion of access to the ballot box. She notes that Connecticut is just one of four states that doesn't have some form of in-person early voting.
Boucher says the state is in a surplus mode right now, but that's because of the 2017 bipartisan budget. The Senate was tied at the time and Boucher says they implemented the bonding, spending and volatility caps. She says the surplus can be used to better fund education. Boucher notes that most states have their lottery funds go to education, but Connecticut sends it to distressed municipalities. She is concerned about the high cost of living in the state and wants to help people with energy costs, food costs, and fuel costs.
In terms of infrastructure, Maher says there are over 270 bridges in serious disrepair. She wants to get those fixed, and make investments in trains to get people off the roads. She says that will reduce emissions to also help the climate. With the federal funding coming to Connecticut, Maher wants to fix bottlenecks on the highways and invest in so-called smart traffic lights. She says that means drivers won't be sitting at lights when no other drivers are around. Maher also wants investments made in EV chargers, bike trails and walking paths.
Boucher says the petroleum receipts tax was meant to be temporary and should be examined. She adds that there are numerous fees on electric bills that don't go to energy costs and the state should look at current regulations to address the matter. Boucher also suggested getting rid of the prepared foods tax and lowering the sales tax. When it comes to affordable housing, Boucher says it's wrong to come into a community and say that 5 or 6 level housing should go anywhere. She notes it should be near access to sewer, utilities and things like grocery stores.
On the issue of pandemic recovery, Maher says the next generation workforce needs to be trained and supports the Governor's Office of Workforce Strategy. Maher says there are too few ways for seniors to downsize and to find housing for seniors who want to continue to live independently. She also wants to expand affordable housing options for seniors.