'Common sense' versus the Democrats

Several Republican candidates for the state legislature, including Rep. Christopher Coutu, right, the incumbent from the 47th District, gather on the steps of Norwich City Hall on Wednesday to promote the signing of their 'Common Sense Commitment' pledge.
Several Republican candidates for the state legislature, including Rep. Christopher Coutu, right, the incumbent from the 47th District, gather on the steps of Norwich City Hall on Wednesday to promote the signing of their "Common Sense Commitment" pledge.

Norwich - In a show of party unity not visible among local Democratic candidates, a group of Republicans running for seats in the General Assembly pledged to combat the state's looming fiscal woes with "common sense" solutions.

"As I've been saying all along, I think the current legislature has failed the state of Connecticut," said Sean Sullivan, who is running for state Senate in the 19th District, currently represented by longtime incumbent Edith Prague, a Democrat.

The "Common Sense Commitment to Connecticut," which more than 100 incumbents and challengers signed at noon Wednesday during a ceremony in Hartford, calls for spending no more than the state receives in revenues, borrowing only what it can afford to repay, eliminating state programs that do not work, and limiting the size of state government.

"The bottom line is, there's been no plan" to address the state's massive deficit, said state Rep. Chris Coutu, the group's only incumbent, who represents Canterbury, Scotland, Sprague and Scotland. "We're going to have bills drafted this year. A lot of these bills have already been introduced on the House floor, but the veto-proof (Democratic) majority voted against them.

"The difference is, this year the public is demanding something different."

With the exception of Coutu, all the area's Republican challengers are facing Democrats who have been in office for at least six years. Most ran unopposed in the last election cycle.

Michael Zelasky, who is running for the state House in the 45th district, which comprises Lisbon, Griswold, Voluntown and Plainfield, said he's hearing "overwhelmingly" from voters that they want to see lower taxes and are willing to see service cuts. Many, he said, feel the state has not dealt with the economic realities that Connecticut residents have faced.

"Businesses are having to decide if they're going to cut salaries or lay people off," Zelasky said. "People in Connecticut are having to make hard choices, but in Hartford they're not doing that."

The document, drafted by party leaders, is an attempt to show voters that Republicans have a plan to address the state's fiscal woes, something they say Democrats have long overlooked.

"It hasn't existed, and it seems like the best way to approach our problems in Hartford," said Tony Siragusa, who is running for the House in the 38th District, made up of Waterford and Montville.

"Common sense is kind of a new word for those currently in Hartford," Siragusa said.

Candidates Andrew Lockwood, John Rodolico, Daniel Docker and Leon Moore were also present at the event held Wednesday afternoon at Norwich City Hall.

m.collette@theday.com

To read that state Republican Party's pledge, visit www.commonsensecommitment.com

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