Voters in the 89th Assembly District will soon decide what matters more to them: experience or outsider status.
Longtime Democratic incumbent Vickie Nardello is seeking her ninth term representing the 89th, and Republican political newcomer Katheryn Brown is running to unseat her.
Brown, of Bethany, has no prior political experience but feels she has exactly what the state of Connecticut — and the 89th District — needs badly: a fresh face with fresh ideas.
“I started to look at what was going on,” Brown said. “I’ve been disgusted with the choices we’ve had for a long time. I want to be involved up close, person-to-person with things going on in the 89th.”
Brown said deregulation and the death penalty are examples of key points at which her and Nardello’s opinions diverge.
Nardello claims she will run on her record, something that she thinks residents of the 89th District have come to recognize and appreciate throughout her 16 years in office.
“I run on my own record and that’s how I conduct my campaign,” Nardello said. “I believe that I’ve worked very hard and think people recognized the work that I’ve done and my willingness to work with constituents. I believe that will bring us to victory.”
The 89th District, which covers Prospect, Bethany and parts of Cheshire, has been Nardello’s territory for a long time, but local Republicans feel Brown’s inexperience is nothing if it isn’t a leg up.
“Katheryn is a bright, fresh face with bright, fresh ideas,” said Tom Galvin, chairman of Prospect’s Republican Town Committee. “It’s very apparent we need a change in Hartford, and that’s something Katheryn can bring. Sometimes little or no experience is better than bad experience.”
Brown added she has been “living in the real world” and the experience she’s gained doing that will be more helpful than anything.
Nardello feels it takes her political experience to solve the complex problems that the state faces and to be able to work with people on both sides of the aisle.
Nardello is the co-chair of legislature’s Technology and Energy Committee and said she has been directly involved in promoting green jobs and promoting energy conservation and an environmentally-conscious state.
Galvin had a different take on Nardello’s work the energy committee.
“Connecticut pays the highest electric rates, second only to Hawaii, in the country,” Galvin said. “[Nardello] voted for deregulation in 1998 that caused our electric rates to double. If she was going to do something really good, it would have happened by now.”
Democrats have said they’ve come across anti-incumbent sentiment like this but predict that popular unrest will not affect incumbents’ success on Election Day.
“Everyone is saying it’s time for a change, but when they actually come out and vote, you still find out the incumbents still end up ahead,” said Michael Scaviola, chairman of the Prospect Democratic Town Committee. “I don’t know why it is; you hear the grumbling but it doesn’t change.”
Nardello echoed Scaviola’s feelings.
“I have sensed anger,” she said. “There is frustration out there, I wouldn’t deny that, but I think voters will judge people as individuals in Connecticut, and that’s the sense I’ve gotten.”
If elected, Brown would strive to make several changes in Hartford. She said she would work to take mandates and fees off of business owners, table all planned programs, decrease the number of state agencies, and cut legislators’ pay by 10 percent.
Nardello said she would like to further pursue green job development and work on improving the accountability in the state budget process.