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The candidates meet the Realtors

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Norwich - A cavalcade of legislative candidates told members of the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors on Wednesday about their support for affordable housing and frustration with a lingering conveyance levy, nearly all touting their pro-business attitudes.

"We want Connecticut to prosper - too many taxes," said Kathleen McCarty of Waterford, a Republican seeking her first statewide office as a representative in the 38th District in a battle against another newcomer, Marc Balestracci of Waterford. "Part of my job will be to help streamline government."

"People are fleeing our state," added Andrew Lockwood of New London, a Republican seeking a seat in the 39th District. "We have to become more business friendly."

"Young people between the ages of 24 and 38 are moving out at an alarming rate," said Paul Formica, the current Republican first selectman in East Lyme who is running for state senate in the 20th District against state Rep. Betsy Ritter, a Democrat.

John Scott, a Republican seeking a seat in the 40th District against incumbent Democrat Edward Moukawsher, said businesses are being hit particularly hard by licensing fees that have doubled in recent years.

"This state is nickel and diming us to death," added Doug Dubitsky, a Republican facing Democratic incumbent Brian Sear in the 47th District. "Businesses are treated miserably in this state."

Sear, however, pointed out that taxes are just part of the equation in developing communities that also have to worry about clean water, good roads and quality education.

"We're starting to bounce back," he said. "We're all business friendly."

Mike France, a Republican facing off against Democrat Timothy Bowles in the 42nd District, called the conveyance tax - paid by home sellers whether or not they've made a profit on the sale of their property - regressive.

"Just to leave the state, you have to pay a fee," Dubitsky said.

"We need to have a look at all the taxes," France added.

Bowles called on a special legislative commission to take a closer look at state government, particularly some of the rules related to the state House of Representatives. He said he believes House members' current two-year terms should be increased to four years, which would save millions of dollars on elections. He also called for a three-term limit on state representatives. "Politics should not be a career," he said.

Stuart Norman, a Republican seeking the 45th District seat against Democrat Paul Brycki, said he would like to see property taxes cut in half, pointing to elderly people living near ponds or lakes who have been forced to sell their homes because of high levies.

"It made me angry," he said.

Andre Bumgardner, a Republican seeking election against incumbent Democrat Elissa Wright in the 41st District, pointed out that southeastern Connecticut has lost more than 2,000 jobs over the past few years. But he suggested that the free market, rather than big government, can help develop solutions to such issues as affordable housing, pointing to the City Flats development in New London as an example.

"I think we have been having the wrong conversation for a very long time," he said.

Kevin Ryan, the deputy House speaker and an incumbent Democrat in the 139th District, said he understood some of the arguments about the unfairness of the conveyance tax, but he suggested that eliminating the levy will not be easy.

"I can't really promise you we're going to get rid of any taxes this year," he said. "This is going to be a particularly tough year."

l.howard@theday.com

Twitter: @KingstonLeeHow

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