Q & A with Stephen Rubin
Editor's note: To give the community a greater sense of where the Republican candidates for state representative of the 136th District stand on certain issues, the Westport News posed a series of questions to each. Candidates were asked to limit responses to each question to 100 words. Here's what Stephen Rubin, the Republican party-endorsed candidate, had to say.
What qualities or characteristics do you think Westporters want in their state representative?
Living in Westport and working with many friends in addressing the needs of our community, I believe that my neighbors are tired of the same political rhetoric and posturing. The many people that I have spoken to want: a candidate that truly represents their needs; a representative that on day one can do the work required for our community; someone who has a track record with a diverse group to get things done and whose track record is clearly documented and verifiable. Since 1993, I have made this commitment and I am ready to take this to Hartford.
How would you, as a Republican in a Democratically-controlled legislature, work to gain consensus in Hartford?
There is no doubt that change is coming to Hartford soon. The super majority will be diminished as voters reject the policies and empty promises. I am ready to work the aisle as I have done throughout my service to remind my colleagues that we seek to help all of the people. In order to re-establish the trust of our constituents we must work together to address their needs. Our neighbors are disappointed in their representatives; believing that elected officials are more focused on their own personal interests. We can work to put emphasis on common sense answers.
Given the fact that environmental issues are important to Westporters, is there any specific environmental legislation that you would like to see passed or would like to propose?
We must preserve the fragile nature of our environment. I am ready to put constraints on the further commercialization of our community. More dialogue around the blue line. We must protect open space in perpetuity. We must work to reverse the rollback of auto emissions standards.
Pesticide run-off needs to be limited to protect the quality of drinking water and the pollution levels in our waterways.
Additional waste treatment must be addressed. Without action across the spectrum of eco-challenges we have serious danger. I am ready to work in Hartford to solve these problems.
Affordable housing and senior housing tend to be highly controversial subjects during political campaigns, particularly as it relates to state statute 8-30g. What would you, as a state legislator representing Westport, do to balance the need for affordable housing with constituents' concerns about having a state mandate trump local rule? Should the law be repealed?
Affordable housing for our citizens is a must. This statute has become dated and irrelevant to the people of our town. It is critical that we take a look at the statute and, if it cannot be modified, repeal it now. I will be vigorous in fighting for the needs of our community. We cannot be subject to mandates that would put our citizenry in peril.
This is a Westport issue and I will fight to ensure that home rule on this issue is maintained. We want all residents to be able to live and contribute to our town.
Can you provide two specific measures that can be taken to stimulate job growth in the state?
Clearly focus on day one in Hartford is to cut through the posturing on jobs and build programs that address this problem quickly. Our officials have chased companies out of Connecticut by enacting laws and taxation that made our state less "business friendly." In order to reverse this trend, we must provide new and incremental tax incentives to both small and large businesses and new growth. We must provide greater flexibility regarding benefit guidelines in order to make this growth financially prudent. We must channel our brightest graduates to positions with local companies through aggressive recruiting programs.
The economy has improved from its lowest point in late 2008, but many economists say that fiscal difficulties are far from over. What is your feeling on the state of the economy, both locally and in Connecticut?
Our economic problems are not yet solved. We must work to get our house in order and live within our means. Our government continues to spend more and there needs to be focus on reducing our spending across the board. While Westport is in a slightly better condition than others, we cannot be blind to our state-wide issues. There aren't enough jobs being created; taxes need to be reduced. I am ready to work to keep our focus. We live in a global economy and we must on a daily basis remain financially viable.
Personnel costs are cited as one of the chief reasons behind Connecticut's billion dollar budget deficit. What can the state do to better manage these costs?
Consolidation of departments; reform of pensions and health benefits; joint union negotiations; hiring freeze; salary freeze; furlough days; more top-salaried employee retirement plan incentives; no more longevity bonus plans; and learning to be more efficient with less. We must act today and not just more words. My experience and understanding working with our unions will be a valuable tool to act on this issue while being fair to all.
If balancing the state budget came down to raising taxes or cutting services, which would you choose?
Thinking higher taxes brings greater levels of service is flawed. Our issue is that we are spending too much. We must hold our elected officials accountable in this regard. We must set very clear priorities around the services we provide to ensure that these "services" are still relevant to our community. We must do all that we can to ensure that essential services are provided in an equitable and fair manner. It's just plain common sense. We can no longer allow tax-and-spend to be policy. We, the people, are tired of paying the bill for incompetence.