Arata, Fazzino square off in Meriden, Berlin, Cheshire House district

The race for an open seat in the redrawn 83rd House District covering parts of Meriden, Berlin and Cheshire features a Republican former challenger from Meriden and a Berlin town councilor making his first bid for state office.

Democrat Jack Fazzino and Republican Lou Arata have been going door to door and attending events in hopes of earning votes to replace retiring state Rep. Cathy Abercrombie in the recently redistricted 83rd.

It is Arata’s third try at the seat after narrowly losing to Abercrombie by roughly 300 votes in 2018 and 2020. According to state election filings, Fazzino had raised $9,135 through August, to Arata’s $6,455, as of July 18.

The newly redrawn district has shaved off some parts of Meriden and expanded in Berlin and Cheshire. It remains to be seen if more suburban voters help Arata, who has endorsements from the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police and the Berlin police union. He was also endorsed by the Independent Party and will appear on that ballot line in November.

Arata, 65, is vice chairman of Meriden’s Public Utilities Commission and got his start in politics as a student. 

“I love my home state and would like to retire here,” Arata stated on his campaign website. “But like so many, I might not be able to afford to do that.”

Arata graduated from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and started his professional career with Westin Hotels. He recently retired after a lengthy career in business and sales. He currently manages an equestrian facility in Meriden, in addition to his role on the PUC.

Arata criticized Abercrombie and other Democratic lawmakers for voting to increase state spending, putting pressure on residents and businesses. He strongly believes in checks and balances in government, he said, while operating with a high degree of transparency and efficiency.

If elected, Arata would start cleaning house by “eliminating complacency, mismanagement, corruption and overspending,” he said.

“I would start by conducting forensic audits of each individual department. We can’t expect to fix things when we don’t know how or if they are broken. Use of enhanced technologies and best practices employed in the private sector, regardless of how government has always done things, needs to be prioritized, ” according to his campaign website.

Fazzino, 27, studied political science at the University of Notre Dame, then earned his master’s degree at Georgetown University and his law degree from Boston College Law School.

While at Georgetown, Fazzino interned with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy’s office and was a clerk for a federal judge. He is currently employed as a lawyer at Cohen and Wolf P.C. in Bridgeport

He won a seat on the Berlin Town Council last November. Since announcing his candidacy for state office, Fazzino has secured endorsements from the Democratic town committees in Meriden, Berlin and Cheshire. He is also endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, AFSCME Council 4, and Planned Parenthood. He is endorsed by the Connecticut Working Families Party and his name will appear on that ballot line. 

“It’s never too early to pay it forward,” Fazzino said. “Right now, we are slowly emerging from a two-year period that has placed an enormous toll on our people, our businesses, and our institutions.”

High taxes and infrastructure improvements are key issues for Fazzino, as is education. He supported an education initiative introduced by Gov. Ned Lamont that teaches middle school students financial literacy skills. 

“I’ve seen the roads and sidewalks,” Fazzino said. “We need to continue to invest in infrastructure. We need walkable streets, that’s important. People want to be able to get around in their community.”

After spending time in Meriden schools, he recognized the progress the district has made to increase the numbers of college-bound students. But he also supports skill-based training in all schools, and positive programs such as the financial literacy curriculum coming from the state. 

Fazzino said discussions over Critical Race Theory and transsexual athletes are not topics that come up when he talks to voters. But access to safe abortions has come up, especially following talk of a national ban. Fazzino supports safe access to abortion.

He said he has taken active steps to support transit-oriented housing in Berlin.

“The train station is one of our town's greatest assets,” his campaign website reads. “It unlocks access to major hubs like New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Transit-oriented development encourages more sustainable and affordable public transportation practices. It also reduces carbon emissions, builds accessibility and contributes to more vibrant communities.” 

He also advocated for Berlin's 2022 Affordable Housing Plan.  

“I’ve been fortunate to grow up in 83rd district,” he said. “I understand the responsibility of building a community that supports the people that live there.”

Part of that involves supporting police officers by ensuring they have adequate funding. He added that the police accountability bill passed by the legislature needs to be revisited annually. 

“We have to meet the balance to ensure it doesn’t hamstring police officers,” he said.

Fazzino said one of his strengths is building bipartisan consensus. 

“Bipartisanship is important to me,” he said. “This is the benefit of bringing the local government experience to an office by building a consensus. That is the type of leader I am and aspire to be at the local and state level.”

Arata supports personal freedoms, including parental rights, and commonsense fiscal policies aimed at helping all state residents, according to his website. 

He said although Meriden, Cheshire and Berlin face different challenges, “there are many similarities in running a municipality.” 

 “My core values of smaller, more efficient government, lower taxes, support and funding police, and supporting communities in the 83rd district to maintain local control of their zoning and BOE, resound overwhelmingly well with my district,” he said.  

Arata’s priorities include opening the lines of communication to constituents and more citizen participation and transparency in government.

He also aims to bring back our pre-1992 competitive advantage by reforming the state income tax and corporate income tax, eliminating the gift and estate taxes, eliminating redundancy in government programs. He also hopes to reduce regulatory interference for companies and embrace legislation for zero-based budgeting.

Arata also supports studying a flat tax system for residents and businesses.

“A smaller government will take less of your money, leaving it in your wallet to spend for what you decide, not the government, on the things you and your family need,” Arata wrote on his campaign website. “It’s about personal choice and individual freedom, to live how you want to live and make the best decisions affecting you and your family – not how someone else decides for you.”

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz


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