47th House District rivals agree on need to fight on behalf of small towns

Both candidates running for the 47th House District seat say they will make sure Hartford gives the towns in this mostly rural district their fair share without hurting their small-town integrity.

Republican Noah Enslow, a Coast Guard veteran and Electric Boat dockmaster and a Planning and Zoning Commission member in Sprague, faces Democratic Canterbury First Selectman Brian Sear for the seat being vacated by Republican Christopher Coutu.

The newly expanded 47th House District is made up of the rural towns of Hampton, Chaplin, Scotland, Sprague, Franklin and Canterbury and sections of Lebanon, Lisbon and the northern tip of Norwich.

Sear said small towns know best how to operate and address their needs. He said state government should respect that without putting unnecessary and often burdensome mandates on them.

He said he will push for more funding so that small towns can continue to expand services that best address the needs unique to each community.

"Local government is the most efficient and cost-effective, and I want to bring that model to Hartford," said Sear.

Enslow agreed small towns know best how to manage themselves, and said they are often shortchanged by Hartford.

If elected, he said, he would fight to make state government more business-friendly, especially to small businesses. He is particularly bothered when the state gives big corporations money and "forgets about the little guys."

He doesn't object to the state giving corporations money as long as they produce tangible jobs and generate revenue.

"This district is really agricultural," said Enslow. "I would like to make it easier for our farmers to get their produce into big box stores. We need to help them as best we can."

Both agree on regionalization of certain services if it's handled at the local level.

"Let the towns decide for themselves what works and what doesn't," said Sear. "Regionalization has to maintain the character of each town."

Enslow supports towns pulling together to buy things like bucket trucks but doesn't favor the regionalization of emergency services.

Sear said he would fight to get state assistance to preserve open space and promote tourism as a means to generate revenue.

Enslow said he is an advocate of education reform. He said the state needs to financially support school districts in fulling its mandates, but at the same time must see a return in its investment.

"If a student is getting a D or F, then that's not a return on your investment," said Enslow.

Voters in Norwich will have to decide at a referendum whether to build a proposed $33.4 million downtown police station.

Both Enslow and Sear say they support the project if it can be done at a reasonable price and doesn't burden the taxpayers.

Sear said he has practical, real world experience, but that Enslow is running on ideology.

"Noah has no administrative experience in government that I know of," said Sear. "The district needs someone with experience, especially on how small towns operate. It's important to have someone in Hartford that can represent what we do at a local level."

Enslow countered that the Founding Fathers created a great nation based on ideology and ideas.

"You don't need a resume to pat yourself on the back," said Enslow. "As long as you have a brain in your head to come up with reasonable and responsible ideas you can make it work."

i.larraneta@theday.com

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