France fends off challenge from Schwebel in 42nd House District race

Ledyard — Incumbent Republican Mike France fended off a challenge from political newcomer Democrat Liz Schwebel on Tuesday to secure his third term representing Ledyard, Preston and Montville voters in the 42nd District in the state House of Representatives.

After two previous races without opponents, France topped Schwebel this election cycle by a total vote of 4,818 to 3,651. The unofficial tallies do not include absentee ballots or same-day registration votes, which were unavailable by deadline.

"It’s good to know I have voters’ support,” he said in an interview at Ledyard Center School after Schwebel shook his hand to congratulate him. “I’ve been diligent about making myself available to voters, and putting forward information that they feel is useful.”

France, 56, heads to Hartford next session focused on the key issue he discussed during the campaign: the budget.

"Top priority has always been the budget," said France, a four-year member of the Appropriations Committee. "Putting together a budget that serves the people and lives within existing revenues is the thing I've been advocating for."

France hopes to streamline state budget processes to minimize painful cuts to school districts and take advantage of the region's technical schools for high school students and adults.

France is an engineering manager at Groton-based Progeny Systems Corporation. He spent 20 years in the Navy on active duty and received a master's degree in electrical engineering. He previously served three years on the Ledyard Town Council and chaired the town's Finance Committee.

Schwebel, 34, moved to Connecticut in 2011 with her husband, who serves in the Navy. She studied nursing and public health and received an associate degree from Camden County Community College.

Schwebel pushed for more bipartisanship in Hartford, arguing she'd fight to prevent cuts in town and education funding and would back a host of progressive policies she says would help families, women and struggling workers.

Schwebel said she enjoyed the experience of knocking on doors, getting to know the voters and sharing her stances on issues.

"I had great support and I'm very thankful for everyone who voted for me," she said. "I had a great campaign team and volunteers, and I'm thankful for my family, as well."

Asked if she'd consider a run for state or local office in the future, she smiled and said, "Possibly."

"I had really good support,” she said, adding that she was excited to see strong turnout this year.

b.kail@theday.com

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