Two veteran politicians will go head-to-head in the 16th Senatorial District in November.
Republican Rob Sampson and Democrat Vickie Nardello are vying to represent the district that includes Waterbury, Wolcott, Cheshire, Southington and Prospect.
Sampson, a 49-year-old Wolcott resident, has served as a state representative in the 80th House District since 2011. Nardello, a 67-year-old Prospect resident, was previously a state representative for 18 years.
If elected to represent the 16th Senatorial District, Sampson said his priority will be to restore the state’s economy.
“Connecticut’s problem overall is that we are not competitive against other states,” said Sampson, who is a realtor and insurance agent.
Sampson said public policies that make the state more attractive and competitive need to be adopted. He said businesses are often turned off by the state’s ever-changing requirements and regulations.
For senior citizens, Sampson said, “we have to control the constantly increasing cost of living and property taxes, as well as to eliminate tax on pension and Social Security income.”
Sampson said the state would retain college graduates if incentives encouraged them stay in the state.
“We have to make Connecticut attractive no matter who you are. All public policy should be viewed from this point-of-view,” Sampson said.
Nardello, a retired public health dental hygienist for the Hartford school system who teaches health care policy at University of Bridgeport as an adjunct, said her priorities include fostering economic development, making health care accessible and affordable, education funding and affordability, and a budget review to prioritize spending and auditing of agencies to determine what programs are working well and which should no longer be funded.
She said the district would change under her leadership because “I will put people before party and work with the public officials in my towns and the leadership to address needs and concerns.”
In fixing the state’s economy, Sampson said there needs to be stability and predictability.
“Town’s should be able to rely on the state to support them financially,” Sampson said. “I made a commitment to never support a budget that cuts funding to the towns I represent. I will also not vote to increase taxes. We are taxed way too much.”
Nardello said good paying jobs need to be created, competitive advantages need to be built and reinvestment needs to be made in communities.
“We have to treat taxpayer dollars with respect by ensuring that we hold ourselves accountable for everything we do to keep and attract businesses,” Nardello said.
Small business regulations need to be simplified and towns encouraged to develop their own “one-stop shops” for helping entrepreneurs find the resources they need to start companies locally, she continued. The state needs to work with the University of Connecticut, Yale University and other higher education partners to develop advanced-manufacturing and bioscience centers of research, innovation, and excellence, she said, and promoting transit-oriented development to stimulate downtown neighborhoods.
Sampson said the state has much to offer, from an educated workforce to infrastructure.
“We don’t have good public policy,” he said, “but if we turned that around, things would change fast.”
“New regulations and requirements are made every year — people are scared,” Sampson added. “You have to be fair to businesses in order for them to be successful, which creates jobs.”
Both candidates said they don’t support implementing tolls.
Sampson said authorizing a $10 million toll study was “irresponsible and insulting to the citizens in the state.”
“Instead of fixing roads and bridges, we’ll use $10 million on another toll study that has been done before,” he said.
According to Sampson, tolls are a “dead issue” and would be another burden that would hurt residents.
“It’s just not the way to fix our state, I’m opposed to any new tolls or taxes,” he said.
Nardello said she’s concerned that Connecticut residents will bear the burden of the cost of the tolls.
“I do not support the proposed toll study,” she said. “While I believe we need data before beginning a project, the $10 million study cost is too expensive and has not been justified.”
Sampson said the state needs to implement public policies that will invite businesses and people to take risks. Nardello helped Gov. Dannel Malloy to pass the biggest tax increase in the state, Sampson charged, and voted against capping the gas tax, as well as voted to repeal of the death penalty against the will of constituents, which Sampson said he strenuously opposed.
Nardello described herself as a moderate who is willing to work with both parties in order to solve problems.
“While I served as state representative, I got results by passing major pieces of legislation in the area of health, energy, environment, and to address constituent problems,” she said.