Economy is a focus of Shelton state rep special election

The economy appears to be the main issue in the July 22 special election for a state representative seat in parts of Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull.

Democrat Arlene Liscinsky and Republican Ben McGorty, both of Shelton, are running to fill the 122nd House District seat of the late Larry Miller, who died at age 78 in May. Miller, a Stratford Republican, had served in the position for almost 24 years.

Both candidates have been going door-to-door to meet with voters during the shortened campaign for the special election.

Liscinsky: 'I've seen the mandates'

Liscinsky said the state’s economy “certainly could be doing better,” noting her two children settled in Massachusetts after college because that is where they were able to get jobs in their chosen fields.

She said as the former owner of two independent liquor stores, she understands the challenges faced by small business owners. “I’ve seen the mandates and how they impact small business,” Liscinsky said.

McGorty: State "going in the wrong direction'

McGorty said Connecticut businesses can’t afford to hire more workers because of the state’s high taxes. He said Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy continues to expand state government, “creating his own empire” with his hiring practices in the process.

“Everyone wants to know how we can help a state that’s going in the wrong direction,” McGorty said. “We need to reduce state spending and lower taxes to create jobs.”

Polling hours

On July 22, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Shelton residents in the district will vote at Mohegan and Long Hill schools.

No matter who wins the special election, the candidates may face off again in the Nov. 4 election for a full two-year term.

McGorty, however, will first have to fend off a GOP primary challenge for the full two-year term from Michael C. Vickerelli of Stratford on Aug. 12. McGorty is the party-endorsed candidate in the primary.

While Liscinsky and McGorty don’t know each other well, both had nice things to say about the other.

Liscinsky said no matter who the victor is, “the people will be electing a quality person.”

And McGorty said regardless of the outcome, “the district will be in good shape.”

McGorty going 'full steam ahead'

McGorty said he’s been going “full steam ahead” with the race, interacting with voters and overseeing the mechanics of a campaign.

“People are interested in the race,” he said.

The state needs to lower taxes, McGorty said, “so businesses can afford to hire more employees.”

He said he’s running because he likes helping the community through his volunteer activities. “Now I have the chance to help the state as well, bringing my volunteerism to a new level,” he said.

Despite the prospect of having to run in three elections in the next four months, McGorty said for now he’s “only focusing on the first race [on July 22]. If I win that one, other things will all fall into place.”

McGorty is a part-time deputy fire marshal and housing code official for the city of Shelton. He also is a real estate agent with William Raveis.

He’s a member of the Shelton Board of Fire Commissioners and a longtime volunteer firefighter in Huntington. His wife, Noreen, is a Shelton alderman. They have two children, 20 and 16.

Liscinsky: 'All-consuming thing'

Liscinsky said she has enjoyed talking with voters and organizing her campaign efforts. “It’s an all-consuming thing,” she said.

Many of the issues are similar to those when she ran for the seat against Miller in 2002, Liscinsky said, such as the need for livable wage jobs, better healthcare, and supporting public education.

When it comes to taxes and spending, she said the state needs to find the right balance and that will require compromise by both sides.

“I’ve always worked with my colleagues on the Board of Education, even if we have different philosophies, and I’m proud of that,” said Liscinsky, a longtime school board member in Shelton.

She said she wants to serve in the legislature so she can help people “solve their problems. I’m an advocate.” Based on her experience, she said, “I know what it’s like to be there for them.”

Liscinsky is president of the regional Cooperative Educational Services governing board, and previously was involved in the PTA locally and statewide.

She and her husband, Joseph, have two children, ages 29 and 26. They previously lived in Stratford.