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Candidate Profile: Bolinsky Running Unopposed In The 106



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State Representative Mitch Bolinsky (R-106th) has never run unopposed before; he’s always had a race to run during election season, with “the last few being contentious.” So for him to find himself alone on the ballot for his sixth term has been a relief and a compliment to the job he’s been doing.

Bolinsky, a Newtown resident, was first elected in 2012.

“I’m not a lightning rod, no one would accuse me of being an extremist on either side,” said Bolinsky. “This gives me the opportunity to do what I do best, sit in the middle.”

Without an opponent, Bolinsky declined receiving the Citizen Election Program grant to help candidates run for office.

“That saved the taxpayers $30,000,” said Bolinsky. “I didn’t see the need to spend money on advertising. I’d rather see the money stay where it belongs.”

Bolinsky said he works on a “shoestring budget,” and that his phone never stops ringing and he never stops answering it.

Bolinsky said that his success has been working with other people, as he has for the past 10 years in office, and his willingness to work across the aisle and stick to issues that have support on both sides has made him among Connecticut’s “most prolific lawmakers.”

He said his background in marketing has given him the perspective needed to “bring people of different perspectives together.”

“I take the approach to do things everyone can be happy with,” said Bolinsky. “I try to do good things for the town, and for the groups I work with.”

Bolinsky said there is a “lot of unfinished business” for 2023. He said it starts with the shaky economy and high cost of living in Connecticut that is “not conducive to growth.” He noted that the state is “sitting on a massive surplus” but he is not seeing the surplus and infrastructure funding “being applied in an obvious way to the taxpayers.”

Addressing The 84 ‘Mess’

Bolinsky also noted that Interstate 84 is “a mess” and Newtown is becoming the “Waterbury of western Connecticut” in terms of traffic. He said that requests to make I-84 three lanes from Danbury to Waterbury have been denied.

“The hard reality is that the Department of Transportation says that studies do not support a third lane,” said Bolinsky. “That’s hogwash.”

Bolinsky noted that with people working from home, traffic can “back up at any time of day” and there’s “always volume” along the I-84 corridor. He said that traffic is “verifiably predictable” and that “kamikaze mergers,” inconsiderate drivers going around traffic where there are three lanes and then diving back into traffic when the lane ends, cause back-ups in those areas.

“We need to redo the traffic studies,” said Bolinsky. “The Feds throw us billions for infrastructure and we tolerate this garbage on I-84.”

In the current economy, “it’s tough to live in Connecticut,” said Bolinsky, who noted that the state “needs to do something about taxes.”

“It’s bad enough inflation is at the levels it’s at now,” said Bolinsky. “It’s avoidable.”

Bolinsky pointed to a truck tax put on every vehicle that comes into or goes through Connecticut, and said that the tax is “not left with the trucking company, it comes back to us [Connecticut consumers].”

“We need to stop piling on and live within our means,” said Bolinsky.

The current surplus came because of one-time funding and tax surplus gathered because of inflation.

“We are over collecting tax over the last year or so,” said Bolinsky. “We have this massive surplus but our infrastructure has not changed.”

Bolinsky believes that the surplus should be used to improve life and infrastructure, and to “invest in the future of Connecticut” to “make it more attractive.” He said that state spending increased ten percent, and while some of it was needed, it is “built on the back of one-time funds.”

“This is an opportunity to create visible and obvious improvements in everyone’s lives,” said Bolinsky.

Mental Health Response

Bolinsky said that over the past year he and the legislature have been working to make “huge investments in mental health” with two “big” mental health bills being approved. However, he believes there may be problems with implementation of the bill because the government “does not work efficiently.” Newtown and Sandy Hook have been “an example of how nonprofits can work to keep resources local and close to home.”

For education, Bolinsky isn’t “saying it’s broke,” but efforts are not “focused on where it needs to be — on what’s been lost.”

“We can’t afford this generation to be two years behind, it’s not healthy,” said Bolinsky.

He said there was a bill approved that would put social workers and intervenors in schools, but they’re “not there yet.”

In addition to being concerned with students being behind, Bolinsky is also concerned with “parents being left out of the decision-making process when it comes to curriculum.” He said that Newtown’s 2021 municipal election for Board of Education “turned on the resistance of families to the interference of government.

“Take away choice, and you make parents feel unwelcome,” said Bolinsky. “My philosophy is that teachers need to practice their art. Curriculum needs to be age appropriate but not tied to metrics or testing.”

Bolinsky also noted that there is a teacher shortage, which he believes comes from them being “over-administrated.”

“There are too many administrators,” said Bolinsky. “Too many chiefs.”

Bolinsky said that political discourse has been “going down a toxic road.”

“Discourse has been far less civil,” said Bolinsky. “We can’t have an open conversation or even agree to disagree. People are making decisions not on character but on the letter behind their name.”

Bolinsky said he doesn’t feel that applies to him.

“I don’t judge, I just work,” said Bolinsky. “I listen to the community. I don’t vote on party lines with the same level of obedience that others do. There is nothing I won’t listen to or be willing to learn. I don’t have to completely agree with something to vote for it if that’s what the community wants.”

‘Be Kind And Civil’

Bolinsky said he wished “everyone would take a deep breath and remember how to be kind and civil.”

On crime, Bolinsky said that “anyone who claims crime is down in Connecticut is not comparing apples to apples and not being truthful.” He said that crime statistics for lockdown years are not comparable to years from before lockdown.

“People don’t feel safe,” said Bolinsky. “People are being carjacked; their catalytic converters are being stolen in the ShopRite parking lot in broad daylight.”

With bail easier to achieve and shorter sentencing, Bolinsky said criminals feel “emboldened.” He said murders are up, among other violent crimes. He said that the Police Accountability act has “swung things too far” in favor of criminals and that officers have hesitation and second thoughts before drawing their weapons. He pointed towards the shooting of three officers in Bristol that left two dead and one critically wounded.

“Who thinks like that?” asked Bolinsky.

Bolinsky said he felt fortunate to live in Newtown “where the police are loved” and the school resource officer “is like part of the family.”

Bolinsky said a point of pride for him is that he’s assisted approximately 1,200 families in need, whether it’s getting food on the table or other assistance.

“I always answer the phone,” said Bolinsky. “I never say no.”

Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

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