Urban, Mullane face off for 43rd District house seat
Stonington -- The race for state representatives from the 43rd District is a contest between two well-known North Stonington residents, eight-time Democratic incumbent Diana Urban and Republican Nick Mullane, who served as the town’s first selectman for 32 years before deciding not to seek reelection last fall. The district also includes Stonington.
Both candidates have differing reasons for running for the seat.
Mullane, 78, said his slogan is "We Can do Better."
He said the state is broke, people want to leave, and those who want to stay can't afford to live here,
"I want to live in Connecticut," he said about his reasons for running. "My kids and their friends can't afford to live here."
Urban, 65, who chairs the legislature’s Children’s Committee, said she is now in “a position of respect and influence.”
“I have the experience and relationships in the General Assembly and people listen to me,” she said, adding those are things that are needed as the state and her two towns face increasing challenges.
If re-elected, Urban listed several main issues she would work on.
The first is to continue her long-running effort to implement results based accountability budgeting in state government, something that has been met with opposition from some state officials. RBA requires that a program show data that it is successful in order to continue go receive funding.
Her Children’s Committee has created the Children’s Report Card and has now collected data on all the state programs that affect children. She said the committee is now examining the data to see which programs work.
So far she said money has been reallocated from programs on teen pregnancy and other areas that have not had measurable success to those whose data show they are successful.
Urban said that because the state underfunds education in the cities there will continue to be a push to decrease aid to rural and suburban towns. This means towns such as Stonington and North Stonington will continue to experience cuts in state aid as money is funneled to the cities.
Last year, she said she was able to restore almost all of Stonington’s $1 million cut. She said the town needs to “have a player in there with influence and respect ” during the budget talks.
“If not you’ll get cut,” she said.
In addition, she pledged to work toward developing a new state education aid formula that people can understand.
“I’m an economist and I can’t understand it,” she said about the convoluted formula which has numerous factors and exceptions.
Urban said that now that the state has agreed to use generally accepted accounting practices to create its budget, the state must use the proposal to examined past budgets to determine how money was spent and how the budget functioned.
“That will give us a picture of what our budget really looks like,” she said. “Otherwise it’s hard to compare with what we’re doing now.”
Urban said that, if re-elected, she will continue her effort to have the state reimburse the many small businesses, individuals and organizations that never received the money they were owed by the now defunct Amistad America. The state gave the group more than $9 million in state funding but did not monitor how the money was spent. Urban was the lone legislator who urged the state to conduct an audit of the group’s finances. That led to the ship being placed in receivership and being sold to a new group. Those who were owed money, however, were never paid.
Urban, has also been involved in many issues that affect animals and was successful in getting bills passed that require cross reporting of animal cruelty incidents because of the link to domestic violence and allowing judges to assign volunteer legal advocates to help prosecutors in compiling information in animal cruelty cases.
As for Mullane, who now serves as a selectmen, Urban said one of the things that disturbs her about her opponent is that he says he wants the state to run like North Stonington does. But she said the town still does not have a budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year and still has not filed the final paperwork for the $300,000 that she helped secure from the state 14 months ago to help pay for the town’s new emergency services building.
“I’m not sure if this is how we want the state of Connecticut run,” she said.
Urban added that being a state representative requires spending a lot of time in Hartford but Mullane said at their first debate he really did not want to do the job and plans to spend as little time as possible in Hartford.
Mullane said now that he is not first selectman and not running the day-to-day operation of North Stonington he has the time to serve in Hartford. In addition to serving as first selectman until 2015, he worked at Electric Boat or 37 years retiring in 1995 as a chief in the contract change department.
He also said he did not feel Urban should run unopposed.
In the past Urban has easily won re-election, often having no opponent or one with little experience or name recognition.
“She said she has got the job done,” Mullane said. “She has not. She’s failed terribly. If she was in the commercial world she would have been fired a long time ago,” he said.
Mullane said that if Urban is such a champion of results based accountability she would introduce a bill mandating its implementation in every agency of state government.
“But she hasn’t because her leadership has said don’t you dare do it,” Mullane alleged. “What she wants to fix she is not allowed to touch. The (Democratic) leadership tells her what to do.”
Pointing to a bill she introduced concerning banning the sale and trade of ivory and rhinoceros horn, Mullane said his opponent is not dealing with issues that people care about.
Mullane has also published a long list of items he wants to address in state government if elected.
These include developing a long-range budgeting plan, fixing the state’s business climate and implementing tax reform. He said the election of more Republican legislators will help such reforms become a reality.
He said he supports the creation of a five- or six-year budgeting plan and instructing the state Office of Policy and Management to determine the minimum staffing levels for each agency so legislators can then determine can where to make cuts. He said one department that should be reformed is the state Department of Community and Economic Development so it can respond much more quickly to potential developers that it has in the past.
He said the state should fund business incubators and tourism promotion, as they generate revenue.
Mullane also would like a cap on state spending and borrowing, an elimination of state taxes on pensions, no new taxes and no more unfunded state mandates for municipalities. Like Urban, he said he would also work to protect state education aid and school building aid for the two towns.
Mullane said he also opposes tolls, supports fully funding mental health programs, would like to see an end to patronage and nepotism in state jobs and would end state funding for pet projects of legislators. He said the arbitration process and standards have to be more clearly defined to help employers deal with workmen’s compensation and unemployment issues.
He also favors a reduction in state conveyance tax on property to only reflect actual administrative expenses.
Mullane said new state employees should be given 401 (k) plans and not pensions and pensions should be based on base salary and not include overtime. He added state unions will need to make concessions or be ready to bargain such issues when the contracts expire at the end of the decade.
Mullane said he feels those with union connections should not be able to serve in the General Assembly because of their conflict of interest with labor issues. He added that towns and the state should not have to pay prevailing wages because raises the cost of project and Stonington should receive impact aid for having to spend money to deal with the impact of tourism while generating huge amounts of state tax revenue.
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