The Mansfield League of Women Voters hosted its annual Candidates Night Wednesday evening at E.O. Smith Regional High School.
Candidates received questions from both the LWV and the audience in a cumulative time format, whereby each candidate's cumulative response time was limited to 10 minutes.
Below, you'll find a few of the important questions posed last night accompanied by the candidate's full responses. These same questions were asked of State Representative Gregory Haddad.
Stan Soby (R), is running against incumbent Linda Orange (D, WF) in the 48th State Representative District.
Question: In this time of high unemployment, what would be your priority to improve our state’s economy?
Soby: I think jobs is the one main concern we need to have and focus on right now. We have a 9 percent unemployment rate. You throw in the number of people who have been discouraged from looking for work and the number is estimated at 14 percent. We have a tremendous number of college graduates who don’t have employment opportunities. Greg mentioned the step-up program. It’s an excellent program, but it has some limitations. It’s limited to small businesses of 15 employees or fewer. It is designed around new full-time positions. I would hope that we could have some discussion around expanding that to some larger business who might be able to benefit and to look at a variety of types of positions that would qualify for that. …The other thing is, and this is something I’ve heard talking with people during the campaign is that there are job fairs where jobs are available but there aren’t qualified people to fill those jobs, so we really need to do is bring employers potential employees, our educational institutions to make sure we’re providing the training that’s needed for the jobs that are out there now and in the future, and to make sure that’s happening with current curricula and current technology so that people are job ready when they come through those programs. …That particular focus is absolutely critical.
Orange: To be honest with you, the economy and jobs are my first priority as well and I think that Representative Haddad explained to you the work we had done in a non-partisan way in Hartford with the step-up program and a few other expanding things that we did. But in this high time of unemployment, we need educated people even though as Stan pointed out, a lot of people are coming out of college and not able to be employed in the field that they would actually like to. That’s a problem. We need to enhance education, we need to do that and we did that a little bit this past year with manufacturing jobs. There are manufacturing jobs out there that our young people are not prepared to do. We have to go into our technical colleges and revamp them to what’s available in manufacturing today. Not everyone out there is college material. There are a lot of people that can work with their hands and do other things that we all need. And our technical schools can certainly provide them with the education they need to go out and seek employment in the manufacturing positions that are available currently that are not filled. We also need to continue to assist businesses. We took a large step in what we have done for businesses in our jobs bill this past session, and as Stan pointed out to you, it basically was for the mom and pops, 50 and below, but those are the people in my community that are suffering. We will go back into the legislative session and I’m sure that we will be looking at ways to expand what we have done and to reap the benefits of what we have done and to perhaps work better with our chambers of commerce who usually bring the job fairs.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Question: The legislature has not dealt with fully funding the state retirement system in recent sessions. What, if anything are you prepared to do about this?
Soby: The challenge of the state employee retirement system is a significant one. Unfortunately, over time, Connecticut’s commitment to funding that has slipped. I agree that it’s something that needs to be addressed. There has been a commitment made to both current retirees and current employees in terms of what would be there for them. I think that needs to be dealt with over time on an incremental basis. I know that the retirement system has actually changed over time as contracts have been negotiated and there is various tiers within the state retirement system and I think that needs to be continued to be looked at to find a more cost-effective way to provide for people on a long-term basis.
Orange: Pension funds are certainly our obligation and our responsibility. We have a responsibility to those who have served in our state service of various kinds and it’s our responsibility, and I look forward to working on this issue. It’s an issue that really does need to be addresses and the legislature is a responsible body and I am sure that we will work together to come to a conclusion as to how to fund this. It needs to be fully funded. It’s our obligation.
Question: What will be your priority in this coming session?
Soby: Jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s I think the short answer, but I really do think what we really need to be looking at is how we grow the economy because of the ripple effect that that has in everything that we hope to do for the citizens of the state of Connecticut. We need to grow the economy. We need to create the conditions that small businesses are going to be comfortable, that they can hire somebody…whether that’s incentive or at least some certainty in terms of what their taxes will be, what their health care costs will be, what the regulatory environment might be around them. With some certainty they can then make decisions that make sense for their business and start moving things forward for us.
Orange: My priority for the next legislative session is jobs and the economy. They go hand-in-hand. Education – educating our children as well as our adults. And quality of life and the way that we live here in our state.