By Andrew Larson, Republican-American
PROSPECT — A 30-year-old small business owner from Southington is challenging Republican state Sen. Rob Sampson, who is seeking a second term representing the 16th Senate District in the November election.
Democrat Jack Perry is challenging Sampson, who served four terms as state representative of the 80th House District until winning former state Sen. Joe Markley’s vacated seat in 2018. The 16th District includes Wolcott, Southington, Prospect and parts of Waterbury and Cheshire.
Perry graduated from Southington High School in 2008 and opened his dumpster rental company, HQ Dumpsters & Recycling, in Southington the same year. At the time, he had one garbage truck and 70 trash cans. He now employs 40 people and plans to expand.
“Starting a business during a recession helped drive me into the person I am today,” Perry said.
Perry describes himself as a moderate candidate, in contrast to Sampson’s conservative Republican agenda and frequent opposition to the Democratic policies of Gov. Ned Lamont and his predecessor, former Gov. Dannel Malloy.
“Our current state senator isn’t representing us, he’s representing his own ideology,” said Perry, who is engaged and has a child.
Sampson, 51, founded the General Assembly’s Conservative Caucus and was a leader of the campaign against Lamont’s tolling proposal. He said he hopes for a time when he can serve “with a majority (party) or a Democratic administration that actually wants to address our real problems,” which he believes stem from government overspending.
Sampson, a realtor at Realty Three of CT in Southington and insurance agent at Tracy-Driscoll Agency in Bristol, said his top priority is to make Connecticut a more affordable state to live and run a business.
“We’ve got to put Connecticut back on the map and highlight our positives, and we have many between Boston and New York,” said Sampson, who graduated from Maloney High School in 1987. “Connecticut is a beautiful state with a productive workforce and highly educated citizens. The only thing that’s hurting us is our state government, which makes living or doing business here expensive and cost-prohibitive.”
Both candidates said they support lowering taxes, but they differ on how that would happen.
Perry, who has been endorsed by the Working Families and Independent parties, said he’d promote alternative training programs for young adults who don’t want to pursue a four-year college degree.
Sampson, who is single, favors cutting the cost of doing business. For example, the state could lower energy costs — which are currently the highest in the country — by diversifying its energy sources and clamping down on utility companies.
“We’re getting most of our gas from Canada,” Sampson said. “We’re basically just one customer on a pipeline.”
He supports tougher regulation of Eversource Energy, blaming Malloy’s decision to replace the state Department of Public Utility Control with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.
“The problem is that now the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is the boss of PURA, instead of an independent body that maintains regulatory compliance and protects consumers,” Sampson said.