Markley facing hometown challenger

Ryan Rogers
Ryan Rogers

SOUTHINGTON — State Sen. Joseph Markley will face a Democratic challenger from his hometown for the first time since he was elected in 2010.

Markley, a Republican, is seeking a fourth term representing the 16th District, which includes Southington, Wolcott, Prospect and part of Waterbury and Cheshire.

On Saturday, Democrat Ryan Rogers announced his candidacy at Southington Town Hall. He is a member of Southington’s Zoning Board of Appeals and the Connecticut Air National Guard.

Rogers, 30, attends Quinnipiac University School of Law and lives in Southington with his wife and 10-month-old daughter.

In past elections, Markley, 59, has received strong support in his hometown. But to serve constituents, he believes geographics don’t matter as much as his core belief: lower government spending.

“If the boat’s sinking, we’re all going down with it,” Markley said. “It’s not just a matter of saying what can I do for my hometown; the question you have to answer is what can I do for the state of Connecticut.”

Rogers said his “campaign will be centered on an open and honest discussion of issues residents face each day, and providing voters with a real alternative to the status quo this November.”

But Markley considers himself to be an anti-status quo candidate in the Democratically-controlled General Assembly.

“It’s odd that he says we need change from the status quo, which is really what has been established by his own Democratic governor and colleagues,” Markley said.

Joe Markley
Joe Markley

When asked what he meant by “status quo,” Rogers said he was referring to Markley whose three-term tenure makes him part of the establishment.

Rogers recently spoke at a news conference kicking off a campaign to force businesses in Connecticut to provide paid medical and family leave. He said he worries about going without a paycheck if his daughter, who’s in day care, gets sick and he has to care for her.

Rogers would work to “ensure everyone has paid family leave when they need it” and to make college tuition more affordable, he said, while creating a “more stable and sustainable budget.”

Markley said he’s sympathetic to the need for paid medical leave, but is skeptical of whether Rogers’ plan is viable.

“Everyone we meet with begs us not to pass more mandates,” Markley said.

Rogers believes offering better benefits would give businesses a competitive edge in hiring new employees.

“The current plan that is being formed in the legislature would not force businesses to leave, but instead bring businesses up to speed with the needs of the modern workforce,” he said.

Rogers said he would put “people over politics and good policy over ideology.”

But Markley believes those things aren’t mutually exclusive.

“I think my ideology is very clear and in tune with the people I represent: That government has grown bigger than we can afford, and to an extent bigger than what benefits us,” Markley said.