Job losses, attendance at issue in 40th House District race
Groton - Eastern Connecticut's job losses have emerged as a central issue in the 40th House District race.
John F. Scott, the Republican challenging Democratic incumbent Ted Moukawsher for the seat, said the region needs economic development and quickly, because people are unemployed or underemployed and leaving. "We've got to do something that can turn things around, and give people decent-paying jobs and things they can make careers out of," said Scott, president of Bailey Agencies Insurance in Groton. "What's happening is that skilled labor is leaving town in droves."
Groton ranked near the bottom - 164th of 169 municipalities - in the percentage change in employment, showing a loss of 7.3 percent from 2003 to 2013, according to data compiled by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
But Moukawsher, a state representative for 12 years, said the most recent Connecticut Department of Labor statistics show the area gaining jobs. Employment in nonfarm jobs grew statewide by 11,500 positions, according to preliminary statistics posted on the department website. The unemployment rate, which was 9.4 percent in September 2010, fell to 6.4 percent in September 2014, data showed.
"We're coming out of a mini-depression, the worst recession we've ever had," Moukawsher said. "Everybody suffered from that, it was steep and far-reaching, and it affected our state budget terribly, of course. And more importantly, it led to a lot of job losses. But we're coming out of that."
Moukawsher said his background and experience as a legislator and lawyer help him understand the practical impact of government policies.
Scott, a member of the Groton Representative Town Meeting, said he deals with thousands of people through his insurance company and understands their struggles as well as those of a small business.
He questioned whether Moukawsher would represent residents, citing his attendance.
Scott said Moukawsher was present for 76 percent of the votes cast in 2014, and fewer in prior years, according to data he said he obtained from House Republicans.
During the last five years, Scott said Moukawsher was present for 77 of the 151 meetings held by the committees of finance, banking or environment, of which he is a member.
The figures could not be independently confirmed by a nonpartisan group.
"If you didn't show up for work 50 percent of the time, would you expect to keep your job?" Scott said.
Moukawsher said the attendance figures are misleading and misrepresented. He said he voted for every bill that came from his committees.
"You can take statistics and try to show somebody is not involved, and that's not the case. All I can say is he's trying to mislead people," Moukawsher said. "His campaign has been pretty much relentlessly negative. I know what he's trying to do is distract people from my accomplishments." He listed those as including $500,000 in state grants to help with the cost of educating children from military families and a $500,000 grant to redesign Ledyard Center, as well as an effort to connect businesses in Groton and New London through the use of a water taxi.
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