By Weston Ulbrich
2020 has altered our lives and priorities. This election, Wallingford voters have the opportunity to reprioritize the future of our state. In the race for the 85th District of Connecticut, our next State Representative must listen and act on the prime concerns of the people. Here’s why I’m the right person for the job:
I’m racing towards public service because I care about our community. I know firsthand from thousands of conversations at front doors that disruption and heartbreak brought on by COVID-19 is far from over. Citizens in Wallingford are now calling for new leadership to face modern day challenges.
I’m grateful for the people of Wallingford. Together, we are a hard-working, well-educated and patriotic community. My family has been in Wallingford for more than a century. Now I want to give back and serve the people who have given so much to me.
In my mind, people come first, no matter their background, race, religion, orientation or even how long they have lived here. To show every person that I care about them, I have pounded the pavement. For three months the Ulbrich For Wallingford campaign has been spreading hope and bipartisanship from door to door.
As a first-time candidate, I have plenty to learn about the inner workings of state government. However I have the energy, communication skills and the humility to get the job done. I will listen and learn from my neighbors and fact-based experts. The verse, “Lean not on your own understanding” is apt in this context. After all, where would we be without advice? Who are we without each other?
I will approach public office with a collaborative spirit while seeking continuous improvement. As State Representative, I will work hard to modernize bureaucracy and save taxpayers money. I will push for the latest trends in technology related to education, healthcare, housing, workforce development, manufacturing and the environment.
Yes, state government is slow to adapt new technologies and strategies, but we don’t have to accept defeat forever. Our democratic process allows for new voices to build a fresh consensus. Most of us want the same things: long life opportunity, family, freedom, security and equal treatment under the law. So let’s reflect on our similarities and find common ground.
We can all agree that our state should operate more like the Town of Wallingford. Fiscal responsibility is what’s missing from Connecticut’s biennial budget. The main reason our state still has good credit is because of fiscally conservative principles like the Rainy Day Fund. We need more savings, more accountability and more common sense leadership. Demanding change in government requires cleaning up our spending and taxing habits so we can simplify government and rebuild for the future.
How? We must cut waste and reprioritize our state budget. I find it alarming that we are spending 15% of taxpayer funds on guaranteed benefit plans for state employees, nearly as much as the 18% spent on education. State government has also passed legislation to sell individual retirement plans even though private companies have cornered the marketplace. Is Connecticut more interested in government benefits and retirement plans than the education of students and lowering tuition costs? I don’t think this is what the people want.
People want new ideas to drive home real change. They want things like reasonably priced healthcare. Healthcare is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a human issue and the current system is not affordable for too many people. We need to reduce costs, make prescription drugs more affordable and improve access for those who need it most. I would sign on to State Senator Kevin Kelly’s plan for bipartisan healthcare reform.
During door to door stops on the campaign trail, I’ve talked to countless business owners in town. Many have told me about my opponent’s obstructionist regulatory behavior. I am now aware of several examples in which our State Representative has teamed up with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to over-regulate to an unreasonable degree.
Instead of crafting policy and balancing the budget in her 39 years in office, Representative Mushinsky has regulated more than legislated. I don’t see this habit as good representative government. I respect my opponent, who’s life’s work has been public service and environmental activism. However we differ on our opinions of how to serve the people in Wallingford’s 85th District.
As someone who also seeks to protect the environment, I understand the need to combat a changing climate. Investing in sustainable technologies preserve our air and water while allowing our economy to thrive and create jobs. We can have a healthy environment and economy simultaneously. It’s time to strike a balance.
Connecticut needs more sustainable advanced manufacturers like Ulbrich Steel. Our people have worked through the pandemic to supply metal for medical devices, power generation and consumer products. As State Representative, my first action would be to propose a state-wide tax credit for all manufacturing and healthcare workers who earn less than $50,000 per year. These women, men and their families have proven to be vital cogs in Connecticut’s economy.
My campaign’s signature issue is to improve Connecticut’s image as a tough place to do business and to retain talent. Why? Because attracting more makers and doers will produce long term economic growth - the only pathway to paying down our massive $67 billion deficit.
After the 2008 financial crisis, our current 85th District State Representative responded to the deficit by voting for two of the highest income tax increases in state history. Before then, she voted in favor of the 1991 income tax. Taking money out of the pockets of hard working Wallingford citizens, just to funnel it through a bloated state government apparatus has never been the way to build equity in our communities.
So I must ask, if our workers are essential, then why does state government penalize them with high taxes and over-regulation? Connecticut has a history of innovation but how will we create, invent, and build if our current system is risk averse? America is meant to be the home of free markets. However, the Constitution State has been too tightly wound by one party rule, especially in regard to our economy.
This deviation from free market principles has been the culprit of Connecticut’s decline in economic freedom and overall competitiveness. The trend of over-regulating our economy, bloated government spending, and high tax rates has bred organized cronyism and a corrupted political system.
For the last three years, I have had the privilege of representing Ulbrich Steel at Manufacturing Innovation Day at the State Capitol. The purpose of the event is to connect lawmakers with manufacturers. I was disappointed to never meet my State Representative at this event.
Did you know? Manufacturing in Connecticut employs more than 160,000 people while generating over $28 billion in annual economic activity. About 7/10 of every dollar Produced by manufacturing goes back into our states economy. produced by manufacturing goes back into our states economy. 92.39% of all exported goods from our state are from the manufacturing sector.
We need more exporters to grow our economy and more legislators who know the importance of our business community. Manufacturing made Connecticut who we are today. It has always been the engine of job growth, higher home values, better security and prosperity; right here in Wallingford.
So it’s time to create and make our own future. We must prioritize what’s truly important. Only then can we overcome adversity, rebuild Connecticut and continue the American Dream. As State Representative, I promise to defend the interests of Wallingford and to advance our common cause for the next generation.
Republican Weston Ulbrich is seeking election in the 85th House District.