Democratic state Sen. Joseph Crisco is seeking to secure his 12th term representing the 17th Senate District. Standing in his way is Republican challenger Philip Tripp.
Crisco, a Woodbridge resident, said he is seeking re-election because he wants to continue serving the district, which covers Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Derby, Hamden, Naugatuck and Woodbridge.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a proven record and proven service. I’m very fortunate to have accomplished a great many things. My whole mission is to make life better for the people in my district and people in the State of Connecticut,” Crisco said.
Although he has retired from the United Technologies Corporation, Crisco still does business consulting when not working on state issues.
Tripp, 56, of Ansonia chose to run for office because he wants to help steer the state in what he feels is the right direction.
“Basically I’m concerned about the state of our state,” Tripp said.
Tripp added he’s not pleased with the job that Crisco has been for the district and state.
“He doesn’t represent my interests or the interests of many in the 17th District, and I want to replace him,” Tripp said.
Tripp served in the United States Army and the National Guard, retiring as a lieutenant colonel after a 34-year career. He currently works at Home Depot and serves as the president of Ansonia’s Board of Aldermen.
Crisco said the number one issue facing the state is the economy. However, he does not agree with the view other politicians have of Connecticut’s economic state.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Crisco said.
Crisco pointed to reports from University of Connecticut economist Fred Carstensen, which paints the state’s economic profile in a good light.
However, Crisco said jobs and the economy are his first priority.
“I’m vice chairman of Commerce Committee. We’ve done a lot of fine programs for the State of Connecticut for both small and large businesses,” Crisco said.
Tripp disagreed with Crisco’s assessment, saying the state’s economy is in poor shape.
“First of all we need to roll back the largest tax increase in the history of the state so people have more disposable income,” Tripp said. “It’s Economics 101; as state government sucks more money away from people it doesn’t get used and spread around like it does in the private sector.”
Tripp said the state needs to become more business-friendly in order to help the economy grow.
“Connecticut and my opponent have levied taxes on small business owners and making it harder and harder to start a business. I have seen case after case of small businesses closing up,” Tripp said.
In addition to the economy Crisco said he will continue to focus on the initiatives he has been working on over the years, including women’s healthcare, general healthcare and consumer protection.
“I’m the chair of the Insurance Committee. I’m very proud of our achievements in women’s health care and healthcare,” Crisco said. “We are the number one insurance state in country. I work hard to protect consumers.”
Crisco also wants to ensure the state takes care of its youth and its growing senior population.
“We have to make sure our seniors have access to quality programs,” Crisco said. “We have to make sure our youth have the best schooling possible and afterschool programs. I’m working on universal [pre-kindergarten].”
In addition economic issues, Tripp wants to focus on stopping the Common Core State Standards.
Common Core is a set of national educational standards that has been adopted by the majority of states. Connecticut adopted the standards in 2010.
“I’m opposed to Common Core, which is federally-mandated testing,” Tripp said. “I believe in two things: public education and local control of public education. It should be local boards that help with curriculum. What’s right for Ansonia might not be right for Beacon Falls.”
Tripp said he does not like how many tests are given out under Common Core and is concerned with what could be done with the results of the tests.
“It is data harvesting on our children with information going to Washington, D.C.,” Tripp said.
Crisco wants voters to know he has the experience and contacts to get things done for the 17th District and the state.
“My message is I have a proven record and proven service and experience and knowledge and relationships to get the best for the district and state,” Crisco said.
Tripp said his message to voters is that change is needed in the district and in Hartford.
“We need fundamental change in Hartford. Basically, we should be looking at how the state has fallen from strongest to weakest,” Tripp said. “The State of Connecticut is burdened with unfunded state pensions and the worst roads in country. Forty-nine percent of residents would move somewhere else if we could. Under my opponent’s watch we’ve fallen to one of the worst states in the nation.”