SOUTHINGTON — Incumbent Republican John Fusco is facing former planning commission member and Democrat Dagmara Scalise in November’s race for the 81st state House district seat.
Fusco is running for his third term in the all-Southington district.
Two years ago, Democrats endorsed Scalise to run for the 16th state Senate seat against Republican Rob Sampson. Scalise was defeated in a primary by Vickie Nardello, who lost to Sampson in the general election.
Scalise served almost a full term on the Southington Planning and Zoning Commission, but left to focus on a state run.
Fusco said he’s worked hard for his constituents, particularly through the pandemic.
“It’s been nonstop. People have been struggling and they don’t have anyone else to call,” Fusco said.
Scalise is a liberal Democrat.
“I still feel like I have something to offer to the community in terms of perspective,” she said. “I think Southington really needs some balanced representation. I feel like my views would be helpful to the community in the state legislature.”Bouncing backfrom COVID
Fusco said the state’s economic position wasn’t great before shutdowns prompted by the coronavirus. He’s hopeful state and local regulations on businesses can be loosened once health concerns are over.
“(Gov. Ned Lamont’s) executive orders, a lot of them, have superseded a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of red tape. It’s made a lot of shortcuts. I’m hoping that maybe some of that will stick around,” Fusco said. “Those are some of the things that are going to help. But those are the things I fight for as a conservative all the time.”
The pandemic shutdowns were also a blow to people’s mental health, he said.
“Our greatest asset has always been hard work,” Fusco said. “The worst thing about this is that work has been taken away from people.”
Scalise said leaders will need to be innovative to get the state back on its feet. She said many of the same pre-COVID problems remain.
“As a state, we need to be much more forward thinking in terms of, how are we going to grow jobs? How are we going to retain young people?” she said.
Scalise works at Bristol Health. She has seen the impact of the pandemic on the medical sector, small businesses and residents.
“My platform is more about learning, I’m not trying to come in with a lot of preconceived notions,” Scalise said.