PROSPECT — No matter the results at the polls Election Day, one thing’s for certain — residents of Prospect will have a new state senator representing them in Hartford.
Last December, new boundaries for the state House of Representatives and Senate districts were set to match up with population changes reported in the 2010 census. As part of the changes, Prospect was shifted from the 15th Senatorial District to the 16th Senatorial District, which includes Southington, Wolcott, portions of Cheshire and Waterbury.
Republican Joe Markley, a 55-year-old resident of the Plantsville section of Southington, currently holds the seat in the 16th District. Markley is in his second term as senator — the first coming in 1985 and 1986 — and he’s looking to make it three terms.
Markley, who at the moment is a full-time legislator, has worked as a writer, a teacher, and newspaper editor for a now defunct weekly paper in Southington among other jobs. Markley said he is led by a set of principles the country was founded on such as limited government and protecting personal liberty. Over the years, he said, the pendulum has swung in favor of more government to the point where the state has more and more power over local municipalities and the federal government has more and more power over state governments.
“I want to help swing the pendulum back,” Markley said.
Democrat John “Corky” Mazurek, 59 of Wolcott, is vying to unseat Markley.
Mazurek, an engineer who has worked at Pratt & Whitney for 39 years, is no stranger to the halls of the Legislative Office Building.
Mazurek served as the state representative representing Wolcott and part of Southington in the 80th House District for eight years until 2010.
Mazurek said he gets satisfaction from being able to help people traverse the maze of government regulations and views the 16th District as an extension of the House District he represented for four terms.
“I thoroughly enjoyed representing the people of Wolcott and Southington,” Mazurek said.
When it comes to the state budget both candidates feel there needs to be some trimming done.
Recently, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo updated the status of revenues and projected the state is on track to end fiscal year 2013 with a $27 million deficit.
The projected deficit is less than 1 percent of the budget, but Markley thinks the deficit will be much higher when the session begins in January and said he wouldn’t be surprised if it’s as much as 10 times higher.
“Government has to learn to live within its means,” Markley said.
Markley said residents can not afford another tax increase and the last one caused the economy to depress. He said the state needs to start cutting carefully and considerately or it will hit brick all and have to cut severely.
Markley said he would start with cutting what he felt are large and wasteful projects like the $600 million New Britain to Hartford busway that is currently under construction. When asked how the state should control the budget, Mazurek replied, “Tighten their belts. They’re not getting any more taxes for it.”
While the candidates agreed on the course of action to take with the budget, they differed on how they would approach stoking the economy and growing jobs in the state.
Mazurek feels the state needs to continue current programs like Gov. Dannel Malloy’s First Five and Next Five programs, which provide state assistance to companies either expanding or moving into the state.
Mazurek said his opponent describes paying companies as a “bribe.”
“I completely disagree with him,” Mazurek said.
Mazurek said it’s important for the state to remain competitive if it wants to retain and attract companies. He said states like North Carolina would pay a fortune for companies such as ESPN to move or expand in the state.
Markley disagrees with the Governor’s approach of using tax dollars to pay corporations to come or stay in the state.
Markley felt the way to spur the economy and grow jobs is to reduce business taxes across the board and provide a climate for businesses to flourish.
“Government doesn’t create jobs,” Markley said. “Government creates the climate in which jobs can grow.”
The candidates did find some common ground when it came to limiting government regulations on businesses.
Aside from economic issues, Markley feels among the other important issues facing the state is suspending the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program.
The program allows criminals, including violent criminals, to be released early from jail if they exhibit good behavior while incarcerated. The law was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year following two separate incidents involving prisoners released from jail early and shortly thereafter were charged with murder.
Markley said public safety is a vital role of government. He has called for the program to be suspended and feels the state needs to take another look at it.
On top of suspending the early release program, Markley said the state must also continue working to make sure senior citizens can remain in their homes instead of moving into nursing homes and find ways to help people with opiate addictions.
“We’d rather cure people’s addictions than incarcerate them for crimes,” he said.
In Mazurek’s opinion jobs are first, second, and third on the list of issues facing the state. But, four and five on that list is energy costs. He said the state needs to reduce the cost of energy, identify the drivers of those costs, and improve the availability of natural gas.
Specific to the 16th District, Mazurek feels among the top issues is his opponent.
Mazurek said that Markley hasn’t been able to bring in state funds to the district because he is always at odds with the Governor, who sets the bond agenda. He said it’s important for legislators to be able to deliver for their districts. During his time as a state representative, Mazurek said he was able to retain grants for his district because he worked in a bipartisan fashion.
When asked about the issues facing the 16th District, Markley pointed to the availability and expense of delivering water to fast developing neighborhoods, along with the cost of treating water. Markley added transportation is also a challenge along the I-84 corridor that runs through the district.
If the voters choose him as their senator, Mazurek said he would be their voice in Hartford. He said he is not going to Hartford to vote his values and has no personal agenda.
“I’m going to Hartford to vote the way my constituents want me to vote,” Mazurek said.
Markley said he will bring the vision of limited government, protecting personal liberty, and fiscal responsibility to Hartford.
“That vision precisely, and I believe leadership for the state,” Markley said.