By Stephen Knight
The race for president of our country has overshadowed state races, so this column will discuss the contest in the 34th Senatorial District that includes Wallingford. Senator Len Fasano is retiring, as we all know, and I want to discuss the person in the Republican party that has received Len’s endorsement. Given the phenomenal job Len did representing our community, that should carry great weight.
Paul Cicarella is that person. I asked for and did have the opportunity to sit down with this man, and the remainder of my column will discuss subjects covered in that interview. I will start with his background, and then his opinions on two important issues on everybody’s mind: affordable health care and public safety.
When our country’s government was established, the founders “assumed” — wrongly, it turns out — that the legislatures of the nation and states would be populated by people of diverse backgrounds, serving for a few terms and then returning to private life and private careers. Lo and behold, two hundred and forty-four years later, our national and state government legislatures have evolved to be stuffed with too many whose primary focus it is to make elected office their life’s work.
That is why Paul Cicarella’s background should matter to us all. I can’t cover his entire biography, but extensive experience in two areas that voters need to know about will have provided him with excellent credentials and experience to perform his duties in the State Senate.
Paul was a State of Connecticut corrections officer at the Hartford Correctional Center, serving actively for eight years before being seriously injured as one of a team of officers engaged in an altercation with a violent prisoner. In that eight years, obviously Paul learned volumes about the criminal justice system. One of the most valuable skills he developed on the job was an ability to de-escalate difficult and emotion-charged situations and an ability to communicate with people of very different backgrounds and perspectives. Paul will employ these valuable skills often as our State Senator.
After his untimely retirement as a corrections officer due to injury, Paul established a business as a private investigator. The state requirements for the mandatory licensing are rigorous, but he met them to become the youngest private investigator in the state in 2009. Since that time, Paul has developed his business to the point where he has seven offices, satellite and staffed, throughout the state and has a client base that is national in scope. His company employs twelve people full-time and another two dozen part-time, every single one of whom is licensed as required by the state. When I asked how this experience would transfer to state government he simply said: “Our business is there to solve people’s problems.” He went on to explain the four steps: analyze the situation, develop and thoroughly read data, develop additional research to augment existing data, and then devise solutions from what was learned in the previous three steps. And goodness knows we need more elected officials that are small business owners and will think twice about making the State of Connecticut business environment even more difficult than it already is.
Now the issues:
Affordable healthcare: Paul makes a convincing argument that affordable healthcare for people of limited means is available, but that the State of Connecticut desperately needs to weed out waste in all of its operations. As a professional investigator, he is frustrated by our state government’s inability — no, unwillingness — to root out inefficiencies and waste. Devoting more resources to that end would allow funds to be redirected to providing less expensive medical care.
Public safety: When asked about the recent police reform legislation, Paul was quick to suggest that, while many of the reforms were warranted, police departments in East Haven, North Haven and Wallingford had adopted most of them years ago. Given his penchant for careful analysis, Paul laments the ridiculously hasty way the new legislation was crafted. Use of force requirements will endanger police. New search and seizure restrictions will handcuff police trying to protect their communities. Elimination of qualified immunity will devastate recruitment. It is no surprise that Paul Cicarella garnered a rarely given endorsement from the State Police union.
Paul Cicarella is a self-made entrepreneur with a wealth of fascinating experience. He humbly claims his success is the product of core values learned from his parents, as well as guidance from his many mentors, who include Senator Fasano, North Haven First Selectman Mike Freda, State Rep. Dave Yaccarino, Jim DeCarlo and, of course, Wallingford’s own legendary Bob Parisi. These are people that anyone seeking office would be proud to have as role models, and Paul Cicarella intends to follow in their footsteps. To do that, he needs your support on November 3rd. He certainly has mine.
Stephen Knight is a former Wallingford town councilor.