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Candidates Endorsed For Open 106th District Seat



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Candidates Endorsed For Open 106th District Seat

By John Voket

In back-to-back nominating caucuses, local Democrats and Republicans have selected their candidates for the open 106th District legislative seat. Two-term Democrat Christopher Lyddy announced recently that he will not seek a third term, and he is reportedly already lending his support to party newcomer Lisa Romano.

At the same time, Republican candidate and current Legislative Councilman Mitch Bolinsky said he is thrilled to be receiving support from two previous 106th District lawmakers, Mae Schmidle and Julia Wasserman. Mr Bolinsky told The Bee that he has also received support from state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, 112th District Representative DebraLee Hovey and District 2 Representative Dan Carter.

Ms Romano began making her first public appearances at the Lions Club Duck Race May 26 with US Congressional candidate Dan Roberti. Ms Romano has previously been volunteering with the Roberti Fifth District campaign.

Locally, Ms Romano said she is surrounded with supporters, including former selectman Joe Bojnowski and former first selectman Herb Rosenthal. Mr Bolinsky said his campaign will enlist Council Chairman Jeff Capeci as treasurer, local attorney Robert Hall as his senior advisor, and Robert Geckle and Jane Sharpe, as well as a few key Democrats, “who will remain nameless.”

Ms Romano comes to the race with no previous political experience, but a wealth of background knowledge as a former US Congressional aide, and a longtime member of the media.

“I remember covering the state representative race as a reporter in Ridgefield,” she said in an interview May 30. “I’ve done everything around the political arena except run for office.”

Ms Romano said that she had no aspirations to seek a political office until she heard the news that Rep Lyddy was bowing out.

“I saw his announcement and wondered who would be running for his seat. And the idea sort of hit me like a bolt of lightening,” she said. “So I went to the Roberti camp to see what they thought and I saw it was doable.”

Ms Romano said that after being invited to a Democratic Town Committee meeting by Mr Bojnowski, she returned for a second meeting at which she was nominated and received the party’s support for the legislative race.

“I was the only person to come forward saying I wanted to do this,” she said.

Mr Bolinsky, conversely, was endorsed by local Republicans after several potential contenders came forward. Those individuals have all thrown their support behind him, according to party sources.

He has held various behind the scenes roles with the local Republican Town Committee, and was elected to his first office on the council in 2011. He has served as manager for the successful first selectman campaigns of both Joe Borst and Pat Llodra, has been the Republican Town Committee vice chairman for six years and publicity chair for five years.

He has also been a local Justice of the Peace for four years, served on the Board of Ethics and the Economic Development Commission, and served as a local, state, and national liaison for the Cub Scouts.

Career In Media

Ms Romano received an MA in broadcast journalism from the University of Illinois, where she completed her master’s project on congressional redistricting. She has worked for ABC Sports covering collegiate basketball and football. She also has covered the Super Bowl and the Olympics, as well as core government and education issues, and writing features for local publications and blog sites.

She most recently blogged for Newtown Patch. As a local journalist, Ms Romano said she often sat at meetings thinking she would rather be serving than reporting, but her commitment to journalism prevented her from stepping across the line to being an active participant in government.

“But I’m not pursuing journalism at this point,” she said. “With all that’s going on nationally, at the state level and locally, I think I have something to offer in another capacity.”

Ms Romano said she believes she can bring her perspective as a mother, someone engaged in the education system as a parent, and as a real estate professional to bear on behalf of Newtowners who are underrepresented in Hartford.

“I’m concerned about job creation, and if [I could influence] more jobs being brought to Newtown, that would be terrific,” she said. Ms Romano also wants to be a voice for the rapidly expanding population of seniors in town.

“I hope to work for our seniors in the areas of housing and health care. We need to take better care of them,” she said. Ms Romano also views herself as more of a political centrist, with friends and supporters who are local Republicans and Independents.

She even was influenced long ago by a particular middle school math teacher she had in Redding by the name of Pat Llodra.

“I’m not planning to be a highly partisan candidate. I’m hoping to draw support from a diverse range of community members,” she said.

Involuntary Career Change

Professionally, Mr Bolinsky is looking to bring his experience as a highly organized and detail oriented marketing, regulatory, and government affairs specialist for the automotive industry to the table. Having suffered what he calls “an involuntary reinvention of my career” because of a layoff, Mr Bolinsky said he also has the more recent experience of a “middle-age man looking for a job in a down economy.”

Since his layoff he has opened his own consulting firm, and has taken a job with All-Star Transportation as a driving instructor. During his marketing career, Mr Bolinsky worked closely with government, industry, and environmental representatives crafting an updated piece of environmental legislation for the State of California — the Global Warming Solutions Act. And part of the language that he helped write in that state act became part of the federal Americans for Clean Energy Act.

Locally, his brief term on the legislative council has provided an opportunity to apply his skills for collaboration in a public arena.

“I think we all want the same thing: good education, a nice home for our families in a good community, and we don’t want to keep facing higher taxes. We just see differing ways to get there,” he said. “I tend to stick to the facts and try to not get swept up in the emotional aspects of government.”

If he is successful in November, Mr Bolinsky said he will go to Hartford first to “stop, listen, and learn.” But he will also seek to “restore the two-party rule to the statehouse.”

“We’ve allowed the state government to degrade to a situation where there are no checks and balances, just spending and taxing,” he said. “We need to look at how Connecticut is treating its taxpayers. I’m afraid if we don’t achieve some balance this year, Governor Malloy will just come back again after the largest tax increase in state history and demand more.”

Mr Bolinsky said he sees Newtown getting about 11 cents back for every tax dollar sent to Hartford.

“We need to get more back,” he said, calling himself a “Wasserman Republican,” and saying he wanted to emulate Newtown’s retired lawmaker who “never started a fight, but always took care of the business of bringing tremendous assets back to the people of Newtown.”

Mr Bolinsky said he is most happy to receive the “apolitical” support of his wife, Luisa, and his children, Rachael, 21, and Matthew, 16. Ms Romano, a single mom, enjoys the energy and support of her three children, Charles, 12, Ethan, 10, and Anna, 8.

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