Election 2016: Dunsby, Troy share similar goals but different paths

Bonnie Troy and Adam Dunsby are running for the state house of representatives.

Bonnie Troy and Adam Dunsby are running for the state house of representatives.

While the two candidates for the 135th District seat share many of the same goals, Republican Adam Dunsby of Easton and Green Party candidate Bonnie Troy of Weston have different ideas on how to achieve them.

The 135th District covers Weston, Redding and Easton. Troy and Dunsby are battling for the House of Representative seat vacated by Republican John Shaban, who is running for Congress against Jim Himes in the 4th District.

At a debate sponsored by Weston’s League of Women Voters on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Weston Town Hall, both candidates stressed the importance of building a strong business climate by offering incentives to businesses to stay in the state.

“Businesses are leaving Connecticut to expand elsewhere,” said Dunsby, citing General Electric’s recent departure from its former Fairfield headquarters. “GE left and said it was because of the state tax policy. We need to stabilize that tax policy.”

Dunsby, Easton’s first selectman, believes that “conceptually” it shouldn’t be too hard to improve the state’s tax base.

“If we have low taxes, a stable tax environment and a regulatory system that isn’t oppressive to businesses, then companies will come here,” he said. “I know it will work because Connecticut used to be that way, but it no longer is.”

Dunsby said that threatening “crazy” new taxes like a mileage tax is ultimately bad for Connecticut. “People hear that and they don’t want to come here,” he said.

Troy, who is cross-endorsed by the Democratic Party, thinks it’s crucial to “give businesses incentives to come here and stay here,” particularly companies that focus on sustainability and practice “progressive” environmental policies.

“There’s a big wave in sustainable business and I think there’s a lot of appeal in that,” said Troy. “GE left Connecticut because they wanted to be in a progressive hub, and I think that we’re in a position to create that hub.”

Troy added that many consumers are looking to work with businesses that focus on being “green” and sustainable.

“We should incentivize sustainability with small and local businesses,” she said. “Solar power and sustainable energy sources aren’t fads. They aren’t going away, and Connecticut should be on top of that.”

Neither candidate supported a raise in taxes. Troy said that “tax increases aren’t the way to go,” while Dunsby thinks it’s time to start rolling certain taxes, like the estate tax, back.

Transportation

Both Troy and Dunsby believe improving transportation infrastructure is important but believe the cost of improvements should come out of different pockets.

“Legalizing marijuana would bring in huge revenue to the state,” said Troy. “The bottom line is that it will happen one day, lawmakers know it will eventually happen. We can use that revenue for important things like infrastructure.”

She said Washington and Colorado, two states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, have generated large amounts of income from marijuana and the revenue has been put toward education and transportation.

Troy believes some revenue from recreational marijuana legalization could cover improvements to the rail system in Connecticut, making the system “more efficient and state-of-the-art.”

Dunsby believes improving the rail system in Connecticut is important because so many residents in Easton, Weston and Redding commute to work in New York City using Metro-North.

“I think we should look into increasing the safety and speed of trains and look into expanding parking at train stations,” he said, adding that it took him two years to get a parking pass when he was commuting to New York for work.

“We have a gas tax which is supposed to go toward transportation, but the state keeps going into that fund and putting it into other things,” he said.

Dunsby suggested a “lockbox” on transportation funds that ensures the money in the transportation fund goes to transportation. He said the state wouldn’t need to enact a mileage tax or tolls if it enacted a lockbox policy.

Education

Dunsby and Troy acknowledged that education is one of the driving factors toward the region and they agreed that Connecticut has an obligation to see that all children in the state receive good schooling.

Troy again said that legalizing marijuana would put a large amount of money back into the education budget across the state.

“Towns like ours got hit hard with funding [from the cuts to the Educational Cost Sharing grant] and I think if we legalize recreational marijuana we’ll see huge revenues,” she said. “The state of Washington is putting about 40% of their revenue from marijuana back into education.”

“Bonnie seems to think that legalizing a drug will solve all of the state’s problems,” countered Dunsby. “I really don’t think it will work out that way.”

Dunsby said Weston, Easton and Redding pay for education almost entirely on town property taxes and the “good news” was that the state doesn’t have too much more to cut.

“We lost over 50% of our cost sharing budget in Easton; we really can’t lose much more,” said Dunsby. “Everyone understands that the towns in this district are of an above-average wealth.”

Dunsby suggested devising a formula that takes into account the number of children in a school system and the affluence of a town to properly allocate how much funding each school district gets from the state.

“We would certainly get some money back,” said Dunsby. “We have to be realistic, though, and realize that we shouldn’t expect as much funding as schools in urban areas.”

Ultimately, each candidate expressed a sincere desire to give back to their communities and serve in the seat.

“I’m not a career politician, but I think it would be an honor to serve this district,” Troy said. “My roots are deeply sunk into this region, this is the community that I serve in my daily life, and I would love to step up to the plate.”

Dunsby emphasized that his goal is to make Connecticut “a better place” and that he would want to do that whether the state was thriving or had challenges.

“My kids are still young and I would love for them to grow up and have successful careers in this state,” he said. “That won’t happen if we continue down the same path that we’re on now.”

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