ELECTION 2014: Three candidates compete for House seat in Shelton
A newly elected Republican state representative is being challenged by two candidates on Nov. 4, but neither of his opponents represent the Democratic Party.
Rep. Ben McGorty of Shelton won a July special election in the 122nd House District, replacing longtime GOP Rep. Larry Miller of Stratford, who died in late May.
His challengers for a full two-year term are Green Party candidate Kelly Hanna of Stratford and petitioning candidate Cheryl Jansen of Shelton.
The Democrats didn’t put up a candidate for the seat, partly because Miller was still alive when the nominating process took place.
The 122nd District covers almost half of Shelton, including most of Huntington, as well as far northern Stratford and a small section of Trumbull.
McGorty: Taxes and transportation
McGorty said jobs and the economy are the main concerns among his constituents.
He said the best way to create jobs is by lowering business taxes to make the state a more attractive place for companies to operate.
“If you cut taxes on them, they hire employees,” he said.
For starters, McGorty said, it’s time to eliminate the annual $250 business entity tax. “You pay it just to say you have a business in Connecticut,” he said, noting every business also has to pay a $20 annual registration fee to the state. “That’s money people can use,” he said.
McGorty also wants to lower or eliminate the personal property tax, which is levied on business equipment.
He said if businesses add more workers, the state will benefit through higher sales tax and income tax revenue.
If re-elected, McGorty hopes to serve on the Transportation Committee. “The train system we have is so antiquated,” he said, noting his wife, Noreen — a Shelton alderman — commutes by rail to Stamford.
Upgrading the train system could lessen highway congestion, he said, emphasizing the state can’t keep widening the roads.
McGorty, 50, is a real estate broker and paid part-time city deputy fire marshal. He also is a volunteer firefighter and Fire Commission member. He is married with two children.
Hanna: Economy, jobs and taxes
Hanna is making her first run for elective office. She was asked to run for the seat by the Green Party because of her past involvement with the party.
“I couldn’t say no — something in my gut,” she explained.
Hanna said people are receptive to supporting a candidate who is not with a major party, but some presume she’s “a tree hugger” when they hear she’s with the Green Party. She said her positions are more well-rounded.
Major issues are the economy, jobs and taxes, she said. “Connecticut is last in the country in job growth,” she said.
Hanna is promoting the use of industrial hemp as an economic initiative. Hemp can be used in textiles (clothing), insulation, carpeting, and plastics, among other uses.
She said the state has the perfect climate and plenty of land to grow hemp, which would lead to agricultural jobs and spin-off industries.
She also supports using hydroponics to grow food indoors in urban areas to bring employment, local food sources and healthy living.
Hanna wants to establish a “public bank” to fund certain government projects that would generate jobs and revenue. The concept has been used successfully in North Dakota, she said. “This would lessen our reliance on Wall Street,” she said.
Hanna, 46, is a dental hygienist, yoga and meditation instructor, and “life coach.” She has three children and a grandchild.
Hanna does not live in the 122nd District, but if victorious she said she would move into the district. State law doesn’t require someone to live in a legislative district to run, only to represent it.
Jansen: Would be truly independent
Jansen is seeking the House seat for the third time. She was the Democratic nominee in 2008 and 2010, and ran a particularly strong race against Miller the first time.
She said running as an independent is an advantage with voters. “When people find out you’re unaffiliated, they kind of perk up,” she said. “People realize the parties are there for themselves.”
She would bring true independence to the position, Jansen said, and could support good initiatives regardless of party or ideology.
“The things that many people are angry about are the same things I’m concerned about,” she said, with jobs and the economy topping the list.
Jansen said it’s difficult to run a business in Connecticut because of all the regulations and taxes, and uncertainty about health care.
She wants to train workers for career fields with job openings because companies often now say they can’t find qualified employees. “We have to make sure people have the needed training for technical jobs,” she said.
Jansen is concerned about the state’s long-term pension obligations and debt. “Gov. Malloy hasn’t done a good job fixing it,” she said.
Malloy has instead given state funds to wealthy corporations to get them to stay in or move into Connecticut, she said.
Jansen, 61, is a semi-retired attorney who has specialized in children’s and domestic violence issues. She graduated from law school in her early 40s, and now does mostly mediation. She has two children and two grandchildren.