Bob Statchen to seek Democratic endorsement for 18th District state Senate seat

Democrat Bob Statchen of Stonington has announced he will be seeking his party’s nomination to run for the 18th District state Senate seat held by Republican Heather Somers of Groton.

Statchen will be vying with Dan Kelley of Pawcatuck for the Democratic nomination.

Statchen, who is married with three children, has directed the Small Business Clinic at Western New England University School of Law, where students assist small businesses with various types of legal issues, for the past 10 years. Statchen said the university supports his desire to run for state Senate and will give him the flexibility to serve in Hartford.

Before WNEU, he worked as an attorney and taught at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in its law department. He has been a member of the CT Air National Guard for the past 21 years and worked in the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s office.

In 2014, Statchen was one of the leaders of a successful effort to change the Stonington charter to ensure that Board of Finance members are elected. Previously, the Democratic and Republican town committees each nominated candidates for half the available seats, ensuring they ran unopposed unless there was a primary or an unaffiliated candidate petitioned to get on the ballot. The effort came after the Board of Finance refused to restore funds that had been cut from the school budget, even though more than 500 people packed a public hearing calling on members to do so. Statchen then served on the Charter Revision Commission.

“It sounds cliché but I love Connecticut. I love the district,” he said Thursday, when asked why he is running. “I feel we’re in a difficult time and, with my experience and skills, I can help.”

Statchen said he has certain beliefs that will guide how he approaches issues in the legislature. These include: that everyone who works 40 hours a week should earn a living wage to support their families, there should be universal health care, there needs to be a focus on renewable energy and resources to offset the impact of climate change and that “trickle-down economics” don’t work.

As for how to deal with the state budget and its annual deficits, Statchen said the legislature has to first look at the biggest expense: personnel. He said it is wrong, though, “to vilify” current hard-working state employees for the fact that the state failed for decades to properly fund pension and benefits for now-retired state employees. He said the salary and benefits current employees receive are “in line with what others are getting" and it’s time for the state to address the debt that it did not properly fund.

“We have an old credit card we need to pay,” he said.

The 18th District comprises Groton, Griswold, Stonington, North Stonington, Voluntown, Preston, Sterling and Plainfield. Statchen said he has begun setting up meetings with Democratic leaders in those communities.

The party convention is in May and, if needed, a primary would be held in August.

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