State Representative Theresa Conroy (D-Seymour) is vying to renew her seat in the 105th Assembly District in the November elections and will be opposed by Leonard Greene Jr., the son of the man she succeeded.
Conroy and Greene Jr. don’t see eye to eye on many issues, and they, like their parties, could not differ more about the past two years in the district, which includes Beacon Falls.
Greene cited Conroy’s representation of the district in her first term and the votes she has cast—particularly those influencing the state budget—as his major reasons for wanting to oppose her in the coming election.
“I really think she hasn’t been as effective as she could have been,” Greene said. “I’ve been very disappointed in her voting, and she really didn’t do much in her time in Hartford.”
Conroy defended her position, acknowledging that she was just a “freshman” in her first season in Hartford but has put forth a very strong effort.
“I think there is no substance to put behind those words,” Conroy said regarding Greene’s remarks. “Lenny is young; I don’t feel he has a lot in leadership experience. He’s more of a political person coming from a political machine background. I’m very proud of the record that I can stand on. I am not a perfect politician; this is my first time out in politics, but I give my heart and soul and I don’t think that many other politicians would be able to say and prove what I’ve done in their first term.”
Beacon Falls Republican Town Committee Chairman John Blesse was equally critical of Conroy’s purported accomplishments.
“One thing you try to measure is, ‘What have we done since you took office from a business perspective,’” Blesse said. “If we look in the 105th, there’s a solid argument that not only have we not brought jobs into the area, but I would bet when the report comes out we’ve lost quite a lot of jobs in the past few years. So I really can’t point to a lot of accomplishments that I think were stellar in her first term.”
As one might expect, the Democrats in Beacon Falls reiterated Conroy’s stance and reputed Republicans’ charges that she has been an ineffective leader.
“Honestly, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Democratic Town Committee Chairman Katherine Grace said. “She has accomplished so many things that I’m flabbergasted that they would say such a thing. To say something like that is really and truly ridiculous. She got much more accomplished than I could imagine, and I think that’s because she’s has been working at it full time and not holding another job like many of the others do.”
As much as either party might seek to inflate or deflate Conroy’s record over the past few years, some things cannot be overlooked. In her time as a state representative she has helped save money for the Beacon Falls town library and removed the responsibility to evict residents and store their belongings from the town to the state, saving the town money.
She is also on the health care and veteran committees in Hartford, and has increased funding for elderly and veterans. She has chaired a task force for victims of domestic violence, which has developed a rule saying there now must be 24-hour coverage at shelters to protect victims against their abusers.
Greene may not posses the experience Conroy can boast, but he does have a political pedigree.
Greene’s father Leonard Greene, Sr. served as the 105th district state representative for 12 years, until Conroy was elected in 2008. The younger Greene was constantly exposed to politics, and some feel his political upbringing will work in his favor.
“I think at the end of the day he grew up in an environment where he understood how government works and was around it for 12 years, said Blesse. “I would certainly think that what his father was able to accomplish in those twelve years, and Len’s ability to hear his father and know what his father was doing in that period would be a benefit to anyone.”
The elder Greene has been a big influence on his son’s life and his campaign, but Greene the candidate feels people will look past his father’s career and judge him on the body of work that he has put forward.
“Dad is the biggest influence in my life,” Greene, Jr. said. “He has been guiding me through this process and has been very active in the campaign. I think it helps me, but I would like to think that the people of the 105th will have the opportunity to choose who they want to vote for based on the issues and based on what they think of myself and the opponent rather than what they thought of my father.”
Greene Jr.’s hope that people will look past his father’s record may very well be beneficial to him, as some believe Greene, Sr. did very little for the 105th Assembly District in his tenure as state representative.
“When talking with people they would say, ‘I like Lenny, Sr., but he really didn’t do much,’” Conroy said. “There was always that caveat, ‘I like Lenny, but. …’ At least now they can say they like me and can see I’m doing work.”
Grace echoed Conroy’s opinion, adding, “Lenny Greene, Sr. is a very nice person but in all honesty we never had anything even close to Theresa when he was representing us,” said Grace. “We didn’t have him calling us back, he didn’t come to any of our functions, and it was almost like he was representing us in name only. I don’t think his father being in office gives him any kind of an edge at all.”
It is clear to both candidates that spending must be slashed significantly at every level, and that those cuts will affect the people of Beacon Falls, Seymour and Ansonia. Drastic cuts to the state budget were made over the past several years, but are anticipated to cut deeper still in coming years.
“The major things we will need address are budget process and the economy,” Conroy said. “The next two years are not going to be easy. We’re going to have to make some serious, serious cuts. We cut over $3 billion out of the budget last time; this time though it’s going to hurt even more when we have to do it. There’s no way around it, though.”
Greene feels the budget can be addressed by reducing the size of government and looking at what it’s doing in a more sensible manner.
“We need to approach state government with common sense and responsibility and try to make sure that we stay out of people’s pockets as much as we can,” Greene said.