Dubitsky, Donnelly focus on jobs, rural concerns in 47th District race

With parts of nine towns included in the 47th District, incumbent state Rep. Doug Dubitsky and challenger Kate Donnelly are competing to represent the second-largest General Assembly district in the state.

Both are long-term residents of the district; Dubitsky is an attorney in Chaplin specializing in equine and farm cases, and Donnelly is an outreach manager for Solarize CT in Hampton. Both have served on multiple boards in their respective towns. And both say they are running to better serve their constituents at the state level.

The 47th District is largely rural and covers parts of Norwich, Lisbon and Lebanon and all of Scotland, Chaplin, Hampton, Canterbury, Sprague and Franklin.

"I guess I was tired of screaming at the TV, and I just didn't think that the people who were representing me were representing me," said Dubitsky, a Republican finishing his first term as a state representative.

He said many people encouraged him to run for office, and he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the 2nd District in Congress in 2010. He was elected in 2014 to represent the 47th District.

Donnelly, a Democrat, said she decided to run this year because she felt the state could be doing a lot better with its existing strong workforce and other resources, and the current leadership wasn't properly representing what the state already has.

Her campaign focus is to bring more jobs to Connecticut and the district because she said it is the best way to fix the state's economy. When going door to door, she said residents told her the job market was their top concern, and better jobs and higher incomes will allow people not only to stay in the state or move to it, but also to thrive here.

At the same time, Donnelly said senior citizens also need to be supported so they can continue to live in their homes in the district. As first selectwoman of Hampton from 2009 to 2011, she passed an ordinance to provide property tax relief to residents age 65 and older, matching the state's tax relief program.

Currently, Democrats outnumber Republicans in both the state House of Representatives and state Senate. Dubitsky said Republican control of at least one of the houses would benefit the state because the party would be able to take the lead on major issues such as the budget rather than just "playing defense" by preventing unfavorable bills from passing.

Donnelly said Hampton is full of natural countryside and open spaces, and she passed a right-to-farm ordinance in 2011 to encourage and preserve agricultural uses of the land. Because it's such a beautiful part of the state, she said she will promote sustainable economic development that supports farmland and the environment as a whole.

Dubitsky also cited farming as a major issue in the district. He co-sponsored a bill in June that established a matching grant program to promote projects, regulations and marketing plans for agriculture in the state. The bill also created a database to track the sale, lease and transfer of agricultural land and farm operations.

"I think it's the perfect district for me because it's a very big district, it's very rural, a lot of farms, and I live on a farm," he said. " I think I'm in tune with the rural character and the rural mindset more than a lot of people."

In his first term, Dubitsky has been working with the Town of Lebanon on the expansion of the Jonathan Trumbull Library. He also is working with the school boards in Regional District 11, which includes Chaplin, Hampton and Scotland, on two state studies regarding the future of the district and its middle and high school Parish Hill, which is the smallest high school in the state. He wants to make sure residents have the information and resources to make educated decisions.

As a former volunteer in the school and a school board member, Donnelly said she will continue to push for a quality education for all students. She said it was nice to be able to raise her three children in Hampton, and she wants to continue working with others to produce the best policies for the students.

She sees too much partisanship in the government, she said, and she feels it's important to "stop playing the blame game" and work together to make Connecticut better for everyone.

a.hutchinson@theday.com

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