The race for the 17th Senate District features a longtime incumbent versus a political newcomer.
State Sen. Joseph Crisco, a Democrat from Woodbridge, is seeking his 13th consecutive term in office representing the district, which covers all or parts of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Derby, Hamden, Naugatuck and Woodbridge.
Republican George Logan, a 47-year-old Ansonia resident, has stepped forward to challenge Crisco.
Crisco wants to continue working on projects he said he has been on the forefront of, such as women’s health, education, and the creation of a biomedical research fund.
“I have some unfinished work to do. Particularly in the area of women’s health,” Crisco said.
Crisco pointed to his support of accessibility to mammograms and other breast cancer screening initiatives as areas he has worked on during his tenure.
Logan sees running for office as an extension of his community service, which includes serving on the board of directors for Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization that works with youth, the Valley YMCA, and Griffin Hospital.
“These are all areas where I just wanted to help and give back to the community. At this point and time with my experience at work and my experience in the community I thought it would be a good time to step it up a notch and help out the community at the state level,” Logan said.
Logan, who is the director of environmental management and government relations for Aquarian Water Company, added that he isn’t pleased with the job Crisco was doing. He said Crisco often votes along party lines.
“I think he should be commended for his years of service, but enough is enough,” Logan said. “We need somebody who is going to think independently for the 17th District and I am more than capable and willing to do that.”
Crisco, 82, worked at United Technology Corporation before his retirement. He currently works as a consultant.
Crisco currently serves on multiple committees in the legislature, including as chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, chairman of the Connecticut Hall of Fame Committee, and vice chairman of the Banks, Commerce and Public Health Committees. He is also a member of the executive and legislative nominations, capitol preservations, and legislative management committees.
Crisco feels the biggest issue facing Connecticut is balancing the budget. Facing deficits, he said the state had to make cuts to programs.
“We had to make some reductions, particularly in social services. I would like to see us refinance the areas that we cut back,” Crisco said.
Crisco said a well-educated and well-prepared workforce will help state revenues by keeping jobs and companies in the state. He said that workforce has been helpful to three of the biggest companies in Connecticut: Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, and General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Crisco pointed to those companies as proof that the state has “been very astute in training our work force.”
Logan feels the current state leadership is going about addressing the state’s financial difficulties the wrong way.
“The issue at the state level, with the current majority party leadership, the modus of operation has been tax the people who are here more and spend more. Then, when it gets to a point every year, they start cutting in a haphazard way. Which, rather than having the net effect of saving money, is actually costing the state more money,” Logan said.
Logan said when these cuts are made it is often the moist vulnerable residents that suffer. He pointed to the cuts the state made to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which led to layoffs at the agency.
“What you are doing there is kicking the can down the road and, in the end, it is costing more,” Logan said.
Logan said the state needs to reprioritize where it spends its money and which services are funded. In addition, Logan wants to ensure businesses stay in Connecticut.
“You need folks to be working so they can sustain their family, so they pay taxes. When you are not working your family is stressed, your happiness level is lower, you start planning on things like moving and leaving the area. We want folks to stay here,” Logan said.
One issue both the candidates agreed on was the opioid crisis the state is facing.
Crisco said the state passed a law limiting the number of refills a patient is allowed to receive without a doctor’s written permission. He said the biggest issue is educating the public about the ongoing crisis.
Logan said he was concerned the state was not doing enough to combat the issue. He would reprioritize how the state used its funding, moving more into the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, rather than cutting the department’s funding.
Logan said he would bring a fresh perspective to the Senate and pointed out that Crisco, along with other senators, have been serving for more than 20 years.
“The folks that are up there in Hartford now, I would necessarily call them bad people, but their policies are bad,” Logan said. “It is time to get some new thinking, some new blood. I think it is time for a new direction so we can have a better Connecticut and I would like to be part of that.”
Crisco viewed his tenure and experience as a benefit. He pointed to his commitment and record of service as to why he is a good choice for re-election.
“I think it is not whether you are outside or inside, it is the commitment of the individual. I have a proven record of service. It is what the person is going to get done for his or her constituents, district, and state. It’s the person more than anything else,” Crisco said.