Riley in Norwich 46th

Stark differences separate the candidates competing in Norwich's 46th House District contest.

Freshman Rep. Emmett Riley, 45, is a liberal Democrat who sees it as state government's job to provide a wide range of human services to help societal ills. A strong safety net is particularly important, he said, in a city such as Norwich, where densely developed urban neighborhoods house many of the region's working poor and unemployable due to age or disability.

His Republican challenger, Rob Dempsky, 40, is a fiscal conservative. He offers a vision in which state government is much smaller and its regulations less intrusive, leaving more money in the pockets of consumers and small businesspeople, encouraging entrepreneurialism. Mr. Dempsky concedes, however, that cutting programs, seen by many as entitlements, would be difficult.

The challenger adamantly opposes Common Core standards, saying they endanger local education governance and stifle teacher creativity. This is a bit of a red herring. Core standards can be met without uniform approaches to teaching.

Ideally, there would be a moderate in the race, conscious of the need for fiscal prudence, but cognizant of the reality Norwich is a community highly dependent on state aid.

In the absence of that moderate option, voters much choose from these polar political opposites, and Rep. Riley is the better fit for this district located entirely within Norwich.

This past summer Rep. Riley joined in the announcement of $929,697 in state funding for the Uncas and Stanton elementary schools. Participants in Commissioner's Network Schools program, it is critical that these schools receive fiscal help to support the extended hours, limited class sizes and support services needed to lift student performance.

Long active in the Thames Valley Council for Community Action Inc., the conduit for much of the human service aid flowing to Norwich, Rep. Riley is well aware of the lifeline social programs provide to many in the city. It is hard to imagine Mr. Dempsky, a smaller-government advocate, doing as good a job in bringing home the bacon.

However Rep. Riley, if re-elected, would do well to consider Mr. Dempsky's warnings that those who support state programs through their taxes can only afford so much. Suburban flight is a problem for Norwich, population relocation to other states a problem for Connecticut. It is not healthy or affordable for state government to seek to address all problems.

With that caveat, The Day endorses Rep. Emmett Riley in the 46th District.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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