The race for the 105th District features two familiar faces in local politics.
Democrat state Rep. Theresa Conroy is seeking her third consecutive, fourth overall, term representing the district, which covers Beacon Falls, Derby and Seymour. She was first elected to the seat in 2008, then again in 2012 and 2014. She also served on the Seymour Board of Selectmen from 2011 to 2013.
Challenging her for the seat is Republican Nicole Klarides-Ditria, the deputy first selectman in Seymour.
Conroy, 59, of Seymour, said she is running for re-election because she has a lot of work she still wants to accomplish, especially in the areas of manufacturing and opioid addiction.
“I really want to get back up there and continue this work and fight for the issues that are important to the people in my district and state,” said Conroy, a retired advanced practice registered nurse. “I have a passion for it. I don’t think my opponent has the same reasons for entering into this race that I do. I just want to be out there every day, helping my constituents with their one-on-one issues or their bigger state issues.”
Klarides-Ditria, 47, has served on Seymour’s Board of Selectmen since 2011 and has been the deputy first selectman for five years.
Klarides-Ditria, an athletic trainer at Lauralton Hall High School in Milford, also serves as the football trainer for Seymour High School. In addition, Klarides-Ditria said she is involved in the day-to-day operations of her family’s business, Klarides Family Associates.
Klarides-Ditria said she decided to run for state representative after finding out that Conroy voted to approve the state’s current budget, which Klarides-Ditria felt hurt the state.
“I said, ‘I need to run. I am sick and tired of just watching these budgets get passed,’” Klarides-Ditria said. “These Democrats are voting for budgets that don’t help the state.”
Conroy said, if re-elected, there are a number of big issues she is hoping to work on. The most pressing, however, is the state’s budget, which is facing a deficit, she said.
Conroy said the best way to mitigate the budget crisis is to increase the number of people employed in the state by supporting manufacturing businesses.
“Most importantly they need the skilled work force. They tell me the jobs are out there in manufacturing, but they can’t find a skilled work force,” Conroy said.
Conroy added the state needs to spend money on Medicaid wisely. According to Conroy, the state has approximately 750,000 people on Medicaid and spends $8 billion a year on the program.
“There is a lot of money in there that can be spent much better,” Conroy said. “We want to make sure people are healthy, but we also want to make sure we are not just wasting money.”
Klarides-Ditria also thinks the budget issues are the primary concern facing the state and blames the work the Democrats have been doing for putting the state in this position.
“The past two fiscal years our state raided the rainy day fund. They’ve been depleting the fund.
Right now it is only 1.3 percent of the general fund. We are spending too much,” Klarides-Ditria said.
Klarides-Ditria said the way to fix the state’s budget problems is to bring businesses into the state and to encourage the businesses that are here to grow.
“By bringing businesses back into Connecticut it will create jobs which will increase revenue and the tax base. We can do that be becoming more business-friendly. Right now we are not business-friendly because our taxes are so high. Right now they can go to another state and have it be more business-friendly,” Klarides-Ditria said.
Klarides-Ditria said the lack of businesses has led to the state being slow to recover jobs. According to Klarides-Ditria, the state has only recovered approximately 81 percent of the jobs it lost during the recession in 2008.
“Our state has the worst recovery in New England,” Klarides-Ditria said.
One issue on both candidates’ minds is the opioid crisis the state is facing.
Conroy said there were over 700 death in 2015 from opioid use.
“That’s an epidemic,” Conroy said. “I’m out there working every day on ways that we address it.”
Conroy said she wants to implement measures for prevention and rehabilitation. She said she has been working on bringing a recovery high school into the state and helping to decrease the wait times for rehabilitation programs, which can be as long as 30 days.
“That time period is, a lot of time, when people go out there and overdose,” Conroy said.
Klarides-Ditria disagrees with the way the state has been handling the crisis. She said the state has cut more than $13 million from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
“Cutting where we need it the most is hurting our citizens,” Klarides-Ditria said.
Klarides-Ditria said she plans to work to retain the money for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in order to put forward more rehabilitation programs.
Klarides-Ditria said, if elected, she will push for the Republican Party’s “common sense” plan for the state.
“We need to budget at the state level like people do in their house. If you make less money, you spend less money. That is one of the common sense principles of government,” Klarides-Ditria said. “I will make our state operate more efficiently.”
Conroy said, if re-elected, she will continue to fight for all her constituents in the 105th District.
Conroy pointed out how she went up against Gov. Dannel Malloy when he proposed cutting funding for hospitals, including the Derby-based Griffin Hospital. Conroy said she helped restore nearly $3 million of the hospital’s funding.
“That was a successful win because that was the number one issue for my constituents when they reached out to me. I don’t have a problem going up against Gov. Malloy for things like that when I don’t agree with him,” Conroy said. “I am in there to do the good work for everybody here.”