PROSPECT — No matter the outcome at the polls, come November Prospect residents will have a new state senator representing them in Hartford.
In December, state legislators approved new boundaries for the state House of Representatives and Senate districts to match up with population changes reported in the 2010 census. As part of the changes, Prospect was shifted from the 15th Senatorial District, currently represented by Democrat Joan Hartley, to the 16th Senatorial District.
The 16th District, which includes Southington, Wolcott, portions of Cheshire and Waterbury and soon Prospect, is currently represented by Republican Joe Markley.
Markley, a 55-year-old resident of the Plantsville section of Southington, is in his second term as senator for the 16th District — the first coming in 1985 and 1986.
Markley said concerns over the state of the economy in Connecticut and the nation drove him to seek office again two years ago and continue to drive him. He said he’s never seen the economy as bad as it is now and feels Gov. Dannel Malloy is leading the state in the wrong direction.
Markley, a member of the Appropriations Committee during both his terms, said he saw exponential budget growth and feels there needs to be unyielding opposition to spending and tax increases.
“I believe we have to cut spending,” Markley said. “We have to do it carefully and responsibly, but we have to do it steadily.”
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, when he lost the seat to Republican Rob Sampson by 40 votes.
Mazurek said he was seeking to run for the House seat in the 80th District again when the opportunity in the 16th Senatorial District presented itself.
“The 16th Senate is something I wanted to run for for six years,” Mazurek said. “When the opportunity came up, I jumped at it.”
Mazurek said he enjoys representing the people, working with them, listening to them and promoting legislation for them in Hartford
“Obviously, at this point, I don’t feel they’ve been well represented in Hartford,” said Mazurek of the constituents in the 16th District.
Mazurek described himself as a moderate Democrat. During his time in the House, Mazurek said he supported legislation to eliminate the Citizens Election Program — the only Democrat to do so — and voted against abolishing the death penalty and a sick time bill, which required employers to provide workers with six sick days.
“I’m very much considered to be a moderate Democrat,” Mazurek said.
Mazurek added he was also instrumental in getting legislation passed that implemented tougher driving laws for teenagers that is credited with saving lives. The legislation was spurred by a 2007 accident in Wolcott that killed three teenagers from the town.
“It was good legislation that worked,” Mazurek said.
If reelected, Markley said fighting against what he deems wasteful spending will continue to be among his top priorities.
Over the past two years, Markley said he fought hard against the $567 million, nine-mile, New Britain to Hartford busway, construction of which began earlier this year. Markley added he raised questions about how the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) was run after Tropical Storm Irene prior to an investigation that concluded the program was poorly run and alleged fraud by some state workers.
“We only have so much money available to help people in need,” Markley said.
Markley said money for people in need must help those that need it the most. He felt that wasn’t happening.
For Mazurek, if elected, he said among his top priorities will be job and business growth in the state.
Mazurek said Markley’s approach in Hartford is hurting the district and is the largest issue facing its constituents.
Mazurek said Markley has not brought anything back to the district in the form of state grants during his term. He said the reason is Markley does nothing but fight with the Governor and take shots at Malloy every chance he gets.
Politics is compromise, Mazurek said, and legislators have to be able to work in a bipartisan fashion.
“I’ve proved that I can work with the other side of the aisle and push legislation. The current senator can not do that,” Mazurek said.
As far as his take on the state’s role in local government, Markley described himself as a fan of lesser government and feels his job in Hartford is not to tell the towns what to do but to help them out.
“My charge as a legislator is to watch out for the state of Connecticut,” Markley said.
He said it’s impossible for one part of the state to prosper without the rest of state. He said the best thing he can do in Hartford for his towns is to ensure the state’s economy is strong.
“In the end,” Markley said, “Connecticut will rise or fall as a state.”
When it became official last year that Prospect would be moved into the 16th District, Prospect Republican Town Committee Chair Tom Galvin said Markley contacted him and he took Markley around town.
“The only person probably more excited about the idea of Joe representing Prospect than me is Joe himself,” Galvin said.
Galvin said he likes Hartley. He described Hartley as a nice person and a moderate Democrat who wasn’t afraid to go against party leadership to vote for what was best for her district.
“If you like Joan, you’re going to love Joe,” Galvin said.
Although he has never represented Prospect, Markley said he was already familiar with town officials, held a meet and greet in town last week to introduce himself, and will be going door-to-door to meet residents.
“It’s a good way to get to know the district and what’s on people’s minds,” said Markley about knocking on doors.
Mazurek also plans to go door to door in Prospect to ensure the district’s newest constituents are familiar with him. Mazurek added that as a state representative he published his home phone number and encouraged constituents to call at anytime to discuss state issues important to them. If elected senator, Mazurek said he will follow the same policy.
“The best legislation is when you listen to constituents and promote what they want,” Mazurek said.
Prospect Democratic Town Committee Chair Eileen Cranney could not be reached for comment.