Three in running for 15th District

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 Joan Hartley
Joan Hartley

NAUGATUCK — Democratic incumbent Joan Hartley is facing two challengers in her bid for an eighth term representing the 15th Senate District.

The district includes Waterbury, Middlebury and Naugatuck. The election is Nov. 4.
Hartley, a Waterbury native and a human resource manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Connecticut, wants to continue the work she’s been doing in Hartford.

“I am seeking re-election as the state senator of the 15th District, because as an independent voice for fiscal responsibility I have been able to make a significant difference in Hartford by constantly fighting excessive spending, stopping billion dollar spending packages and demanding reduced spending and financial accountability,” Hartley said.

Hartley will have to fend off two challengers — Republican Karl Shehu and Blair Bertaccini, who is running on the Working Families ticket.

Shehu, 29, of Waterbury, said he chose to run after he moved to Connecticut a few years ago and began searching for a job.

Karl Shehu
Karl Shehu

“It was very difficult to find job despite the fact I had a good education. I still couldn’t find work,” Shehu said.

Shehu opened his own law firm in Waterbury rather than to continue to search for work in other law offices.

“From there I thought, with the first-hand experience I have, I understand what businesses are going through. I understand the obstacles that are in front of small businesses and I feel I am able to pull back some of those regulations,” Shehu said.

Bertaccini, 61, of Waterbury also ran in 2012 against Hartley. He could not be reached for comment as of this post.

The economy in Connecticut continues to lag behind as the country seeks to rebound from a recession.

Blair Bertaccini
Blair Bertaccini

Hartley said she would help reboot the state’s lagging economy by focusing on the large workforce Connecticut already has in place.

“Connecticut’s legacy of a highly-skilled workforce needs to be expanded and enhanced, while at the same time there needs to be sound government structural reform in state government to support a robust business culture,” she said.

Hartley pointed to a collaborative initiative she is working on between higher education institutions in the Naugatuck Valley, local government and small business entities in developing a job cluster in the area of Cybersecurity.

Shehu said he would focus on cutting spending in the state in order to help the state out of its economic problems.

“At the basic level it starts with cutting spending. There is so much waste abuse occurring in Hartford. We have to start there,” Shehu said.

Shehu also wants to tackle the amount of regulations the state puts on businesses.

“We have regulations that are overly burdensome. We need to eliminate the red tape and make it easier to start and grow businesses in Connecticut. When businesses are growing it allows for the creation of jobs,” Shehu said.

In addition to the problems with the economy Hartley said there are multiple issues facing the state that she wants to continue to address if re-elected.

“The most important issues facing Connecticut are instituting fiscal restraint, reform in government policies, stopping tax increases, growing our job opportunities as well as building accessible and affordable education, technical education and higher education,” Hartley said.

Shehu said implementing term limits for elected officials will be among his top priorities if elected.

“One of the things I’d like to do is term limits. They get eight years and then they go back to community. They can get a job in the private sector to let them understand what it’s like to work for living,” Shehu said. “I think that’s just good government. People shouldn’t be making careers where they are being financed by taxpayers and recycling the same old ideas, some of which are responsible for getting us into this economic cataclysm.”

As Election Day draws closer, Hartley wants voters to know she will continue fighting for them, whatever the cost may be.

“My political history is one of putting taxpayers and families above politics. That’s why I have repeatedly stood up and taken independent positions, for which there have been serious consequences. … My message to voters of the 15th District is to thank them for standing with me in the past as I have taken on controversial issues and to thank them for their recognition of the importance of continuing to have an experienced, independent and fiscally-conservative voice in Hartford,” Hartley said.

Shehu said his message to voters is that a change is needed in Hartford.

“I would say that in order to change what’s going on in Hartford we have to replace the people in Hartford — the career politicians that are responsible for getting us such an unfavorable economic climate,” Shehu said.

Shehu pointed out that he has not held political office and is not a career politician.

“I’m a complete outsider. I could inject fresh blood into Hartford,” Shehu said.