Expect a new face in 23rd House District seat; Carney, Lanier meet in GOP primary

For the first time in 12 years, a new leader will represent the 23rd House District.

Voters will elect this November a new state representative to take over the seat of Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, R-Old Saybrook, who will retire from the legislature after six terms. The 23rd District encompasses Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.

But before then, Republican voters will decide on Tuesday their party's candidate to run against Democrat Mary Stone of Old Lyme in the general election. Devin Carney, the party-endorsed candidate, and Vicki Lanier will face off in the Republican primary.

Carney, 30, of Old Saybrook is a Realtor who has a voice-over business for commercials. He graduated from Old Saybrook High School and studied politics, American Studies and film at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. He has worked on several political campaigns, including the campaign of Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna.

Lanier, 44, of Old Lyme is a lawyer specializing in family and child protection law and is a small business owner. She was raised in Old Lyme and graduated from the Quinnipiac University School of Law. She serves on the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee and was formerly treasurer of the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education.

Economic issues are a priority for both candidates' campaigns.

Carney said he wants to cut taxes, lower spending and take a strategic look at housing affordability and transportation.

"I want to focus on making Connecticut a better place for business and promoting job growth," he said.

Carney said he wants to make the state more appealing to younger people ages 18 to 35 who may have difficulty finding a job or affording a home in Connecticut. At the same time, he said the state should be more affordable so seniors don't have to move out of state.

Lanier's top priority is addressing the state's budget and making it more efficient, both in terms of taxation and funding programs. If elected, she said she wants to restore local control to municipalities and be thoughtful about enacting legislation to make sure she doesn't create any laws that will make it burdensome for businesses and residents.

She also said she wants to help the district's many small businesses.

"We need to make it easier for small businesses to do business," she said.

Both candidates offered several proposals they would implement, if elected.

Carney said he wants to consider ways to cut taxes, such as the small business entity tax for people starting their own businesses. He also supports affordable senior housing and looking at ways to reduce taxes for seniors.

His other ideas to help the economy include encouraging apprenticeships by partnering technical schools with manufacturing and technology companies and working to restore Connecticut as a "manufacturing powerhouse" and innovator in industries such as biotechnology.

Carney supports upgrading the state's transportation system, including improving safety on Interstate 95 and addressing aging bridges, as a means to boost business and tourism. He said the improvements will make it easier for people to commute, as well as enable businesses to move goods and services through the state.

Lanier said she wants to take a close look at the state's taxes. She cited the small business entity tax that requires any entrepreneur to write a check to the state for opening a business. The tax raises questions, she said, such as what service the state is providing for this fee and how much it is costing the state to process the fee.

She offered an example of how she has helped devise creative solutions for budgeting. When faced with rising insurance costs on the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education, Lanier said the board went out to bid for an insurance carrier and also ended up creating the option of a Health Savings Account for employees, which saved the district money and was palatable to the unions.

"I think you have to be thoughtful and mindful about things that are put forward to you, and you also have to have the desire to come up with creative solutions," she said.

Carney said he wants to run for office because he is "sick and tired of politics as usual" and feels people deserve a representative who will listen to them, work on their behalf and not be influenced by special interests.

"I think it's time for my generation to step up and really take hold of what is going on," he said.

Lanier said she is motivated to run for office by her four children, ages 7 to 22, and has the personal, professional and political experience to negotiate solutions in Hartford.

"I want them to be able to afford to live in Connecticut, if they chose to do that," she said, "The way we are going, we're not going to be able to do it."

At the Republican nominating convention in May, the Westbrook, Old Saybrook and Lyme delegations nominated Carney while the Old Lyme delegation nominated Lanier. Giuliano gave a speech endorsing Carney at the event.

Lanier said that Giuliano won in a primary and that she wants the full Republican party to make a decision on who they feel is the best candidate.

Registered Republicans in the four towns, including 518 in Lyme and 1,558 in Old Lyme, are eligible to cast their vote Tuesday for one of the two Republican candidates in the 23rd District race.

k.drelich@theday.com
Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich

Primary voting

Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
• Old Lyme Republicans can vote at the Cross Lane Firehouse at 22 Cross Lane in Old Lyme.
• Lyme Republicans can vote at the Lyme Firehouse at 213 Hamburg Road in Lyme.

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