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As The Day conducted its candidate forums across the region the last few weeks, one candidate stood out, Canterbury First Selectman Brian H. Sear, who is running in the 47th House District. Rep. Chris Coutu, a Republican, vacated the seat to run for state Senate.
As first selectman, this Democrat knows the struggles of small towns and the short shrift they often get from Hartford. And this is a district primarily of small towns. In addition to the northern third of Norwich it includes Franklin, Sprague, Canterbury, Scotland, Hampton, Chaplin, eastern Lebanon and western Lisbon.
Mr. Sear, 56, said if elected he will forge strong relationships with local leaders, regardless of party affiliation. "My experience as first selectman has taught me that there is no room for ideology when it comes to good governance," he told The Day.
Among his priorities will be getting the state assistance necessary to preserve open space and family farms in these rural communities. He promotes smart development, calling for incentives to develop and support small businesses in keeping with the character of the villages and town centers scattered across these communities. There is a role for large businesses and retailers, said Mr. Sear, but they need to go in the right places and not directly compete with small shops.
Mr. Sear appears well aware of the special role Norwich plays as the area's urban center, and we would fully expect him to be a strong advocate for the city in his role as a legislator.
Challenging Mr. Sear for the House seat is Republican candidate Noah P. Enslow of Sprague. Mr. Enslow, 32, is an Electric Boat dockmaster and a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. Mr. Enslow, who serves on his town's Planning and Zoning Commission, admits that he has a steep learning curve when it comes to Hartford politics and state policy. Asked about an issue he does not well understand, he does not try to bluff, but vows to learn about it. Mr. Enslow is not your typical politician and his frankness is admirable.
Like many in his party he disagrees with the large tax increases used to help balance the budget. He wants to reduce government waste, but is a bit short on specifics.
While Mr. Enslow would bring a certain everyman's pragmatism to the General Assembly, he faces a superior candidate. The Day endorses Brian H. Sear in the 47th House District.