Leon Karvelis, a Redding Democrat, announced Monday that he is a candidate for the state 135th House District, a seat now held by Rep. John Shaban, a Redding Republican who is seeking a second term.
“My objective is to provide voters with a choice,” Mr. Karvelis said in a release, adding that he wants to serve the interests of the people in the district, which includes Weston, Easton, and most of Redding.
He owes no allegiance to any industry, career, business, or union, and is using public funding for his campaign, Mr. Karvelis said. This takes away the pressure from funding groups or lobbyists that can be placed on legislation, he said.
“My interest is serving the district … My integrity is more important to me than money or satisfying any industry or lobbyist.”
Mr. Karvelis describes himself as a fiscally conservative moderate who has proven in his local civic roles that he can work across party lines.
“I believe that no political group has a patent on good ideas,” he said.
“People know I’m fair and objective,” said Mr. Karvelis. “I belong to my party, but I am not owned by it. I’ll do what’s best for the people, but I am proud to be a Democrat,” he said.
At one time, Mr. Karvelis was a Republican, but he moved away from the party when he saw two wars that were neither funded nor approved by Congress, and the approval of the Medicare Part D (prescription) program that was never funded, he said. The government was borrowing to pay for these three things, he said with disapproval.
He is running on his background, said Mr. Karvelis, who is a business executive with 35 years of experience in public finance, public policy research, and state and local government analysis.
“My background is better suited for the time we face,” he said on Friday, adding that he wants to use his experience “to assist Connecticut’s families and business community in dealing with the serious fiscal and economic development problems” Connecticut now faces.
He wants to bring jobs to the state, he said, and has an extensive background to work on this problem. He believes in “thinking outside the box” and in working with the strengths the state has, such as higher education, a highly trained work force and a geographical location between New York and Boston.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s deal to get Jackson Laboratory into the state has provided an opportunity to create jobs on a macro scale and to keep jobs in the state, Mr. Karvelis said.
Pointing to the continual increases in property taxes, Mr. Karvelis said the state has to explore ways to moderate them to alleviate some of the burden. He wants to maximize fiscal efficiency to reach this goal.
Another “extremely serious issue” is Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, he said.
“I don’t think we have dealt with this seriously or intensely enough. These diseases have an effect on people in very major negative ways, he said, and can be life-threatening and life-altering.
Another issue for Mr. Karvelis is how the legislature has been dealing with trees in relation to overhead power lines. “We live in arboreal forests,” he said, adding, “We have not dealt with this seriously, or the need for alternate fuel sources in the area,” he said.
“I don’t want unneeded, superfluous or annoying or outdated regulations for businesses, but I do want regulations that protect consumers, employees and the environment,” said Mr. Karvelis.
He also favors the state’s move to GAP accounting because it “trues up accounting so you really know the financial condition of the state.”
When it comes to unfunded state mandates, Mr. Karvelis said he would be “like an eagle” watching for them. “They are grossly unfair,” he said.
Among his other goals are assuring all children “a sound education to prepare them for 21st-Century jobs,” improvements to utility and transportation services, and creating “quality employment opportunities for our state and region.”
Mr. Karvelis said there have to be more cuts to expenses in the state budget. He “strongly supports” economic development programs.
“Preserving the environment is extremely important to me, especially because we live in a watershed,” he said.
Mr. Karvelis said the education achievement gap is as much an economic achievement gap. Studies show, he said, that if household income is low, educational achievement is low. “We can close this gap by getting people to work,” he said.
When it comes to the education reform bill, Mr. Karvelis believes the governor and education commissioner “got off on the wrong foot.” Teachers are being scapegoated, he said, when the problems are administrative and socioeconomic.
The proposed 360-page education reform bill is too much to get through the legislature’s short session, he said. “It doesn’t do justice to the subject at hand, Mr. Karvelis said. He would have proposed “an urban/troubled school program to deal with reforming the system.”
Mr. Karvelis added he would have approved the bill and then dealt with it a piece at a time “in a comprehensive and more thoughtful way.”
In Redding, Mr. Karvelis is an elected member of the Region 9 school board, which oversees the operation of Joel Barlow High School for Redding and Easton. He is vice president of the Board of Representatives of CES, one of six state-chartered regional educational services corporations in Connecticut.
He is a former elected member of the Board of Assessment Appeals and chaired the Region 9 Steering Committee that conducted a successful search for a superintendent. He is also an election moderator for the town.
Mr. Karvelis and his wife, Marie, have lived in Redding for 10 years. Their adult daughter, Andria, is an actress who lives in Los Angeles.