BEACON FALLS — The two contenders in the race for the 105th House District are both planning how they can help the state.
Democratic Incumbent Theresa Conroy, 57, is seeking her second consecutive and third overall term as state representative for the district, which covers Beacon Falls, Derby and Seymour.
Conroy was first elected to the seat in 2008, then again in 2012.
During her time away from the legislature, Conroy, a Seymour resident, served on the Seymour Board of Selectmen from 2011 to 2013.
Conroy, who is a retired advanced practice registered nurse, said she is running for office again because she enjoys her job and wants to continue to help the state.
“I have developed a sincere passion for the job and everything it entails. I understand the needs of the community and the intricacies of the job, and would like to continue with the collaboration needed to move the state forward. We live in a beautiful state and I would like to continue to work to solve the many problems that the recession has forced us to deal with,” Conroy said.
While this is the first time Republican challenger Robert Willis, 30, has run for a state office he has volunteered with political campaigns and served on the Fairfield Republican Town Committee.
Willis, a Seymour resident, currently works as the vice president of marketing at a national brand in the kitchen and bath industry.
Willis was tapped to challenge Conroy after Republican Len Greene Jr. withdrew from the race in August. Willis said he chose to step up and fill the vacancy because he believes there needs to be major changes and improvements in Hartford.
“I am offended by the way working individuals and families are held back by the high taxes in this state. We feel the pain every week in our paycheck, every time we go to the gas pump, and especially when we heat our homes during the winter. We have the luxury of paying some of the highest gas taxes in the nation, yet are forced to drive on some of the worst roads in the country,” Willis said.
The economy in Connecticut continues to lag behind as other states begin to rebound from a recession.
Conroy said one of the problems facing the state’s economy is job creation and retention.
“I have worked with manufacturers and technical schools to identify the needs of businesses and to help provide a skilled workforce to match the demands of the industry,” Conroy said.
Willis said high taxes and unfriendly policies are driving businesses away.
“Connecticut is ranked the highest in outbound moves in the nation due to the high cost of living, lack of jobs and overall lack of opportunity. I will fight to make Connecticut business-friendly again. We need jobs in the state and they will not exist if we continue to hurt businesses and individuals with extreme tax burdens. I don’t think it is fair having some of the highest taxes with nothing to show for it except more debt and no solutions. We deserve better,” Willis said.
Aside from economic concerns, Conroy said she plans to continue to work to improve the state’s mental health and healthcare needs.
“As a healthcare professional, I have been instrumental in passing legislation that has improved access to healthcare and will continue to work to breakdown barriers in the mental health field,” Conroy said. “There is room to improve in both the delivery and care with Medicaid, and I will work to provide enhanced outcomes while looking for cost-cutting saving measures.”
Conroy said she also wants to advocate for keeping seniors and disabled individuals in their homes, work towards lowering energy cost and ensure the state’s transportation system is maintained including improvements to the Metro-North Waterbury branch line.
In addition to the economy, Willis said helping senior citizens is a top priority for him. He said the roots of the problems facing seniors today lies in the high taxes the state levies on them.
“I do not just believe in not raising taxes, but want to cut them. By making Connecticut business-friendly we will have more businesses and jobs coming to Connecticut. Tax revenues from new business and jobs will support much needed programs for seniors and the disabled. Seniors have earned their benefits, to put them in harms way and possibly take from what they have been promised is something I will fight to make sure doesn’t happen,” Willis said.
Willis said the message he wants to get to voters is that he was running to bring integrity to Hartford.
“I am a Reagan Republican and will be a voice of the people who want common sense in government. When people’s best interests are kept in mind I believe that common ground can be found among any group of reasonable adults when facts are used in determining a way of action,” Willis said. “We all want to make Connecticut better; the main difference I find between the parties is the method of going about doing it. I do not believe in pushing ideas that have not previously worked, but proven methods with solid facts to back up decision making.”
Conroy said she has many messages for the voters, but they can be summed up by saying “I know my community and my community knows me.”
“As a life-long resident of the district, I have heard people’s concerns and desires to improve our community,” she added. “My experience as both a nurse manager and union president has provided me with the necessary skills to negotiate and collaborate to find solutions to our problems.”