State Senate, House Candidates Q & A

by Christopher O'Brien

The candidates for State Senate and State Representative attended a forum two weeks ago on moral and ethical issues they may need to vote upon if they are elected to represent Wolcott and Southington next week. The forum was held at St. Pius X Church and was sponsored by a coalition of local churches and the Connecticut Catholic Conference.

Participating in the forum were State Representative candidates Rob Sampson (R, I), and Charles Marsella (D, WF). Also were State Senate candidates Joe Markley (R) and John “Corky” Mazurek (D, WF).

Below are some of the positions outlined by the candidates:

Candidates were given an opportunity to introduce themselves to the 75 residents in attendance. Below is a synopsis of their biographies and the questions answered during the forum. They range from abortion to taxes and each candidates’ priorities if they are elected on Tuesday:

Rob Sampson:
Grew up in Meriden and majored in marketing at CCSU. He is completing his first term as Wolcott and Southington’s representative. He serves on the Appropriations, Judiciary and is now ranking member of the insurance and real estate committee. Born and raised in Meriden, majored marketing at CCSU. He started and now runs insurance and real estate offices in the area. Moved to Wolcott in 2003 citing low taxes and excellent school system. He is a member of Wolcott’s Masonic lodge and believes in Limited Government in people’s lives, and fiscal accountability in government.

Charles Marsella
52 year resident, married to Lou for 27 years and they have 3 daughters. Mr. Marcella is currently serving his third term on Wolcott TC. He has been active in the volunteer Fire Department and has served eight of those years as the fire chief. He teaches at the Wolcott State Fire School and is an active member on the board of directors for the Wolcott Girls Softball Association. He works for AT&T.

John “Corky” Mazurek
Born in Waterbury, he and his wife Cindy have lived in Wolcott for 35 years. They have two grown children. He attended local schools and has a master’s degree in Organizational Management from CCSU. He currently works for Pratt & Whitney in the materials and processing department. He served as the state representative for Wolcott and Southington from 2003-2010>. He has previously served on various boards and commissions in Wolcott as well. He is a past President of the Wolcott Lion’s Club and was award the Lion of the Year award.

Joseph Markley
Southington native and earned a BA from Amherst and MA from Columbia U. Mr. Markley has served in Southington at various levels, and first elected to the State Legislature in 1984. During that term, he served as the chairman of the state’s Human Services Committee. On the Appropriations committee he was successful in trimming state budget and author of the largest tax cut in state history. He is also a published author of short stories and poems.

Questions posed and the candidates’ responses: (This is continuously being updated)

1. Massachusetts will be voting on whether to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients on Nov. 6. Would you support or oppose such legislation?

Most of the candidates stated that their opinion hasn’t been fully formed on this issue so far.

Sampson: Said that he would weigh the issue between the founding principle of liberty and individual freedom. But there are some issues that are too important and that is the value of human live. I would have to err on the side of life and that assisted suicide is also a problem.

Marsella – Says that he mirrors Sampson’s remarks. Parents both had cancer. He said that he couldn’t say whether or supported it or not, but could understand where people who would present the bill are coming from. Not ready to commit on how to vote.

Mazurek – They call the bill “dying with Dignity” – a catchphrase to try to convince you to vote for it. He said that he had discussed this with his wife and would vote against the bill. Both parents lost to cancer- both over a year and both lost considerable weight. “I would go home at night and say “dear God please take this away from them” but never once asked for a pill to do it with my own hands. So I would vote against it too.”

Markley – “We all owe God a death. And death can be painful and its not always as – and rarely ever is as swift as we would hope. But its not in our hands to choose. You recognize the sanctity of life and it is not something under our individual control and would oppose this. This alters the relationship between a physician and a patient which can lead to unhealthy hands. Some countries in Europe have done this. I suspect this will be before us sooner or later and I would oppose it.”

2. 36 states have adopted legislation requiring parental notification before a girl under 18 receives an abortion. Would you support or oppose such legislation?

Marsella: Father of two daughters. Believes in woman’s right to choose. believes a parent needs to be involved with that. Would never personally support abortion but do believe a woman has a right to choose.

Mazurek – Would not allow a 16 or 17 to obtain an abortion. Made a commitment to the Family Institute of CT that he would vote to ensure parents are notified.

Markley: would certainly start the limitation of abortion beginning with parental consent. The R. party started beginning 150 years ago because there was an argument about who was entitled to protection as a human being. And I think that the The R Party was on the right side of that issue, although it took a war to settled it. And one lesson we can take here is that those who have extent the definition of life and human respect have been on the right side historically – in the case of – in the case of race and gender, and that also applies to the beginning and the end of human life, that these things are deserving of respect to the last possible moment. In the case of the Civil War, the Republican Party wasn’t an abolitionist party, but a party that believed in restriction of slavery should not be allowed to go further and I think in abortion we have a very similar situation, that the first thing we should have done towards is elimination is draw a barrier around it and not allow it to go any further. And start with reasonable restrictions one by one. The first parental notification and parental consent I support them both. We’ve tried in the two years I’ve been there to get parental notification or consent bills on the floor for a vote but we can’t becasue the Democrats won’t even call a bill – One of them is a bill that would require parental consent for a teenager to even use a tanning booth. We have an amendment prepared that if you require a parent to be notified to use a tanning booth, then certainly they should in the case of an abortion. Its not been offered because they’re scared for us to even bring that amendment up.

Sampson: Not only agree with parental notification and probably the only legislator in the last two years to offer that as a bill for a vote, as Sen Markley pointed out, many things are not even brought up for a discussion based on the power of the major party. I think that this is the larger issue that we’re facing here in the state of Connecticut – that one party – controls 2/3 of the entire legislature. As a result they control the committees and even what bills are brought up for public discussion. I’ve proposed over 100 bills in the last two years but only 4 got a discussion hearing and only 1 for a vote. We represent a full half of our state and its not fair that their issues are not even being heard. In Mass, must have parental approval- we’re only asking for notification. Firmly pro-life.

 

3. In 2011, CT is the first and only state in country mandating all employees provide sick leave coverage for its employees. This legislation could affect and impact the limited budgets of non profit organizations. What re your thoughts on this legislation and would you support an amendment that would exempt non profits?

Mazurek – I was considered a moderate Democrat and even sometimes a conserve D. I voted against it because while talking to constituents in Wolcott and Southington, talking to business owners, they didn’t support that legislation. Thought it was anti-business and undue economic burden on them. I believe in the representative form of gov’t and you hear overwhelm from constituents to vote a certain way, I think you need to listen to them and vote that way.

Markley- I opposed the bill, but if you remember this affected any business with over 50 employees. Now, if you also note, it had an exemption for the YMCA. oppose. Make no mistake the intention of Democrats is to make this a law on any business- for profit or non profit – of any size. Is it an admirable end for a perfect world? Sure. But its not a good relationship. We’rethe vangauard of putting restrictions and barriers to businesses that want to come into this state.

Now, Corky and I agree on this, but I find it is difficult to be opposing this while also being a member of the party promoting it. If we had more Republicans then this movement to expanding this, it definitely would not go through.

Sampson – Spoke against it and voted against it three times. It is a slippery slope of government getting involved where it doesn’t belong. The relationship between an employee and employer is between them to decide what benefits they should get. The government shouldn’t get involved to determine a worker’s worth and what they should get paid. Again, this was a party line vote where every Republican opposed it and just a small number of Democrats either voted against it or abstained so they wouldn’t be recorded.

Marsella– I gotta look at it in two ways. Is it a living wage or breadwinner of a household that if they miss a day’s work they won’t be able to put food on the table or is it a summer part-time help person. I talked to a summer time help person who said that it was a huge burden when his employees would have a huge burden on his business. But, if it is a mother who is the bread winner, then it is certainly something I have to make my decision on it. This is legislation that already passed and I didn’t vote on.

 

4. In the 2011 session, legislation was passed where inmates to accumulate risk reduction credits. In recent months media reports concerning this program. What are your thoughts, support or oppose?

Markley– Oppose. This bill was never brought up in a proper manner. No hearings, no committee no opp to talk about it. It was brought up in what’s called a implementer bill- what used to be a purely technical bill has now become a catch-all of all the ideas that fell behind the wayside and anything else they had that they didn’t want to give proper scrutiny. A good man – Rep. Fox brought the bill forward, but actually misrepresented the bill -not because he’s a dishonest man, but because he didn’t understand what was in it. He had to apologize in the House the next day.

Now in the last few months, 7500 criminals have been released early under this program. Two of them have since committed cold blooded murder. One killed a shop keeper in Meriden. And another killed a shopkeeper in West Hartford. Some have committed sexual assaults and we just learned another was involved in a street shooting that led to the death of a one year old baby in New Haven. It is an outrage and a threat to public safety. I’ve asked for the Governor to suspend it immediately.

I’m not opposed to a program like this if we have a chance to look at it and NOT include violent prisoners. Right now it includes arsonists, bombers and people who commit rapes. One man was arrested in Middletown that had 27 separate sexual assaults including a rape at knifepoint. it is a terrible, terrible program.

Sampson – I can’t think of a way to more emphatically state my position more than what Sen. Markley said. Residents got a mailer emphasizing how much I think this is a despicable program. It exists because of the wasteful budget practices of this Governor and the majority party in Hartford. They essentially spent themselves into a situation where they cannot afford to pay the bills. And at this late date there are only certain places where you can find the money. and letting out non-violent criminals simply would not save enough money, so they decided to let out violent criminals as well. There is no excuse. Our #1 duty as state elected officials is public safety. And when we have policy makers who did not know what the consequences would be – they did know. We pointed out the implications during a 6 to 7 hour debate on the floor of the HOuse and then again in the Senate pointing out exactly what would happen and why we were opposed to it. So they knew full well what they were voting on.

Marsella – Its really a risk reduction credit program. Do I think it needs to be revamped? Absolutely. But we were only one of 6 states in the country that didn’t have this in place. Did these guys get out and shouldn’t have? Absolutely. But the average criminal today is released after about 85% of their sentence. This guy in Meriden got out after 91% of his sentence. He should have served 120% of his sentence. He is a definite criminal and he should be in jail for the rest of his life. You can manipulate this any way you want. There are people in jail are not going to be harms to society of they are released and we need to look at them.

Mazurek- We’re 5/5 up here for who doesn’t think they should have been released and should have been kept in prison. Now, in 2008, I sponsored a 3 strikes and you’re out legislation along with Sen. Caligiuri and we even got it on the bill and got a vote on it. The legislation said that you have 3 bites of the apple, and after the 3rd time, you go away forever. They did come up with additional legislation tha  addresses repeated felons and put them away for even longer. That grew out of Sen. Caligiuri’s and my efforts top make sure these dangerous people stay in jail forever and are not a menace to society. The bill needs to be looked at and no one would say that dangerous felons need to be released into the street.

 

5. The Affordable Care act requires each state to create health insurance exchanges. What are your thoughts on this structure, and how should abortion be handled under the exchange?

Sampson – I’m the Ranking member of the Insurance Committee in Hartford. He described the health exchange as a good thing – where consumers can find matching health care programs and compare them together. It actually already exists when CBIA built one and its a shame that the state didn’t simply adopt there’s – it would have saved money and would have met the qualifications required of Obamacare.  No coverage for insurance should have to require abortions.

In fact, mandates are the reason for the high cost of health care. There are three factors that result in the high costs: Mandates, malpractice claims (which can be addressed through tort reform which is always blocked by Democrats when we bring it up), and finally need to get to a point where doctors feel  comfortable where they don’t have to practice defensive medicine.

Its not the role of government to give us a product to buy. If we had tried other methods like purchasing across state lines, then we would be able to bring costs down.

Marsella –The healthcare exchange is intended to help small businesses. Its a less expensive way for small businesses and can grow businesses.

Mazurek – Agrees with Marsella, but also that the Exchange brings in $100 million to the state government from the federal government.

As a medical procedure, then it obviously would fall under a health insurance premium that someone is paying.

Markley – I’m suspicious of anything the federal government bribes us into doing. I’m also suspicious of one-stop shopping. We already have a great deal of centralization taking place in government and in our lives generally. I believe we have a largely dysfunctional medical system and the replacement in Obamacare is worse. The great dangers in government is when we have a problem ,we grasp at the one of the first straws to come along. We had this proposal with Jackson Labs that the Governor said would cost $400 million. Other Democratic colleagues defended it by saying “sometimes we have to take a chance.” I don’t want to take a chance with taxpayer money or with the wellbeing of the people of the state of Connecticut. I’m suspicious of large systems. I think that they work against us and have been our enemy. They have been unresponsive and crush us as individuals. They follow rules and not following common sense. I’m suspicious of both big government and big corporations.

Any government involvement in healthcare is going to drive up the costs. In my lifetime, both education and healthcare have become huge and they are also the two largest ares that government has pumped tons of money into.  I would like to see state solutions for healthcare. We have 50 states and 50 laces we can experiment for healthcare.

And no coverage for abortion.

 

6. How will you reduce the State Gas Tax?

Sampson – I was part of a small team that fuoght to cap one of the gas taxes – the gross receipts tax. You have to have the will to cut the taxses. So far the majority party hasn’t had the will or desire to cut taxes. When I ran two years ago I made a pledge and kept it – not to vote for a single spending increase or a single tax increase. And also, I helped put together a Republican alternative budget to the Governor’s budget. The budget at the time was in major crisis – in a huge deficit, we couldn’t afford to pay the bills we had in a $17 billion budget and the Governor managed to pass a $20 billion budget instead. I ask anyone in this audience to ask themselves how this is possible. If you can’t pay your mortgage would you increase the bills that you have? Essentiuatlly that’s what happened.

I helped put together a plan that was responsible – and DID NOT GUT ANY SOCIAL PROGRAMS – despite any claim by anyone else – all i tried to do was to try to get back to a responsible level where we can go back to paying the bills we have in this state. Instead of a no tax increase, we ended up with the largest tax increase in the state of Connecticut – $4 billion. We are the most taxed state in the country.

Marsella-  I think that the key to the state gas tax is the amount of energy in the United States and the ability to be self sufficient. I think that has to come from the national level. We need to become more efficient with it. I will not support any tax increase in the state of Connecticut. I worked hard on the town budget to try to keep taxes as low as we possibly could. I think our seniors can’t afford anything more than $4 for gasoline. How to lower it? I’m not sure how to lower it and I’m not sure there’s any one anwer out there on how to lower teh gas tax, but corky and I will work together to lower for everyone because we’re going to be very effieicent on spending.

Mazurek – I happen to like one stop shopping. Go to the internet to look for tires and have it dleievered wherever you want.

Now let’s talk about the budget since Rep. Sampson brought it up. Its very difficult to balance the budget of the State of CT. And I think the Democrats put forward a very good plan in what they decided to do mitigate the budget deficit. If you lower the gas tax, you’ll take money out of the general fund and the budget will be in arears. When the Republicans put together a budget- and it was supported by both of the Republican gentlemen here on the stage – they decided to cut $800 M out of Medicaid in a two year period. A total cut of $1.5 mill in senior citizen services- from old age assistance, meals on wheels, the elderly in home treatment care, $85 million for DCF, cut the rape crisis and immunization programs, home healthcare for the elderly funding. This is the budget they promoted and put forward and said this is the way the State of Connecticut needs to go. Believe me, Mr. Marsella and I are going to Hartford and we are not gong to balance the budget on the backs or our seniors and our children.

Markley – The only way you can cut taxes as Rep Sampson says, is to cut spending. And whenever you have a proposal to cut spending, its easy to pull numbers out. There was a a substantive number in the Republican budget that added the number of employees that would be dedicated to combating fraud and waste. I say this about the DCF budget – did you know that the cost of keeping one child at the Long Lane facility is $1 million dollars – PER YEAR! I had the director of that facility in front of me and I asked him to explain to me how it costs $1 million per year per child and the first thing he said was that many of these children come here without an adequate set of clothing. And I thought – ok, so where’s the other $990,000 coming from? There’s places to cut this budget.

Under the circumstances we have I think we have a Democratic majority determined to spend more money every year – 7% despite the deficit.

Now, the way that Len Suzio and I and Rob Sampson and other legislators got the gas tax cut was by sending it to the public. Only when it became a transparent, and obnoxious issue is when they had no choice but to retreat and agree to cap the gross receipts tax on gas. I’ll do it anyway I can but part of doing it is #1 buy controlling the budget, and#2 point is by getting the people on our side.

 

 

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