House: 42nd District

REPLAY OF DEBATE

CANDIDATES

Mike France, Republican

Occupation

Engineering Manager

Town

Gales Ferry

Incumbent

No

Contact

Phone: 860-271-3816

Email: MikeFrance2014@gmail.com

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

52

Family

Married to Heather. We have six (6) children: Annemarie (24), Brandon (23), Laurel (22), Marguerite (19), Brittney (18) and Frederick (17); and four (4) grandchildren.

Education

B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California, 1987; M.S., Electrical Engineering, Naval Postgraduate School, 1997; M.S., Organizational Management, Eastern Connecticut State University, 2005.

Civic Involvement

Volunteer, Family History Center, 2002-2006; Mystic Noank Community Band, 2003-2006; Mystic River Chorale, 2003-2011; Head Timer, Girl's/Boy's Swim Teams, Ledyard HS, 2006-present; Vestry Member, Bishop Seabury Anglican Church, 2014-present.

Elected/appointed offices held

Town Council, Ledyard, CT, November 2011-present; Chair, Finance Committee, Ledyard, CT, November 2011-present; Liaison to Historic District Commission and Conservation Commission, November 2011-present; Liaison to Permanent Municipal Building Committee , May 2013-present; Liaison to Pension Board, November 2013-present; Chair, Ledyard Republican Town Committee, March 2013-present; Elected Member, Republican State Central Committee, 19th District, June 2013-present.

Other government service

U.S. Navy, 1981-2005: -- IC3(SS), USS GUITARRO (SSN 665), 1981-1983; -- Surface Warfare Officer, USS MARS (AFS 1) & USS REEVES (CG 21), 1987-1994; -- Engineering Duty Officer, 1994-2005.

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

The primary issue facing Connecticut is the out of control spending by the Legislature, to the point where we have a State government that the residents can no longer afford. As I talk with voters at their doors, the two top issues are Taxes and Jobs. They are both linked to the significant growth in the State budget and the lack of fiscal responsibility in the Legislature, borrowing to pay current expenses instead of approving a prudent, balanced budget without raising taxes. In fact, many small fees and taxes cost more to collect than to bring in. That makes no sense at all. However, the Jobs issue is only partly due to taxes. The other part is the significant increase in regulation that is a burden on small businesses, making Connecticut one of the least business-friendly states in the country. The result is retirees who can no longer afford to live here, families that are leaving as soon as their last child graduates from high school and college graduates that have to leave the state to find work. As a Town Councilor in Ledyard and the Chair of the Finance Committee, I understand what it takes to produce a balanced budget that meets the needs of the residents without borrowing to pay current expenses. We need to ask the question, "What is the appropriate role of State government and what services should be provided?" We have reduced the size of the General Government in Ledyard, making the management structure more efficient. We need the State government to do the same thing, remove redundant layers of management so that the taxpayers are provided efficient delivery of services without the burden of excessive overhead costs that don't have anything to do with delivery of services to Connecticut residents.

Estimates of the state's unfunded pension and benefit liability for retired teachers and state employees are in the tens of billions of dollars. Should the state continue offering a defined benefit pension plan or switch to some type of 401(k) defined contribution plan, which has become standard in the private sector? Please explain why you do or do not support such a change.

The State retirement system needs to transition to a Defined Contribution Plan for all new employees while maintaining the commitment to all current and retired teachers and State employees under the Defined Benefit Plan that was negotiated and agreed to. The most important part of upholding that commitment is to fully fund the retirement system, something that the current Legislature has failed to do and has not indicated any future plan to do so. The Town of Ledyard made the transition to a Defined Contribution Plan two years ago for all new General Government employees while honoring the commitments made to current employees under the Defined Benefit Plan. The Ledyard taxpayers have already seen the benefit of this transition. The taxpayers of Connecticut deserve the same consideration. What we need to remember is that the customer is the taxpayer and that every Defined Benefit Plan retirement is an unknown liability to the taxpayer because there is no way to know how long an individual retiree is going to live. With a Defined Contribution Plan, the liability to the taxpayer is known each year and can be budgeted as part of the normal budget process with certainty. In addition, at the end of employment, whether due to transition or retirement, the liability to the taxpayer ends. This is the responsible and prudent approach to retirement funding, something that the private sector learned many years ago. It is now time for the Connecticut retirement system to make the same change.

If a bill came before the General Assembly to repeal or amend the gun control law passed last session after the school shootings in Newtown, would you vote to amend the law? If so, what would you want to change?

I would support amending Public Act (PA) 13-3 (SB 1160), including full repeal. As an engineer and project manager, I have spent my adult life solving problems defined by root causes. Unfortunately, there is nothing in PA 13-3 that would have prevented the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Instead of taking the time to deal with this complex issue like Statesmen or Legislators, we had politicians who rushed through legislation by emergency certification to ensure that Connecticut residents have the perception that they solved the problem. Perception is not reality. The reality is that the only part of PA 13-3 that dealt with issues directly related to protecting our children in school was the focus on school security, but even that was not well thought out. The Legislature missed an opportunity to deal with the root cause problem: the lack of sufficient mental health services and more specifically, the possible correlation between Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and school shootings. Instead, the Legislature gave vague direction to the Department of Children and Families and created a Task Force to "study the provision of behavioral health services in Connecticut". Because the Legislature failed to follow regular order and hold public hearings, the opportunity to hear from mental health experts, school security experts and law enforcement was lost. We deserve better. We deserve a Legislature that solves real problems of importance to Connecticut residents, not following some political agenda. From a gun control perspective, PA 13-3 neglects the point that criminals don't follow the law. All that PA 13-3 did was turn law abiding citizens into potential felons and limited the ability of Connecticut residents to defend themselves. "Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state." Section 15, Constitution of the State of Connecticut.

Timothy Russell Bowles, Democrat

Endorsed - View The Day Editorial Endorsement

Occupation

Farm Manager

Town

Preston

Incumbent

Yes

Contact

Phone: 860-705-5613

Email: tbowles117@comcast.net

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

64

Family

Married twenty-four years to my wife Donna. Three adult children: Adam, Sara, and Damien. Four grand-children: Victoria, Veronica, Benjamin and Daisy Mae.

Education

Masters in Child Welfare from Saint Joseph University in West Hartford, CT B.A. from Windham College, Putney, Vermont

Civic Involvement

President, People's Action for Clean Energy Member, Avalonia Land Trust Previous served as a Deacon with the Preston City Congregational Church and as a Emergency Medical Technician with the Preston City Fire Department Former Chair of the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club

Elected/appointed offices held

Two terms on the Town of Preston Board of Selectmen Appointed to the Preston In-land/Wetlands Commission and to the Conservation Commission Elected to the Preston Planning and Zoning Commission Elected to the Preston Zoning Board of Appeals

Other government service

Appointed by President Pro Tempore Kevin Sullivan as Chair of the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Chaired the Preston Democratic Town Committee

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

After thirty years' experience in Connecticut state and municipal government, I have the depth and perspective necessary to continue to work effectively and productively as a state legislator. My career began as a Social Worker, continued as a Child Abuse Investigator, and for the last twenty-five years I worked as a Policy Analyst in the Office of Policy and Management and the Department of Children and Families before finishing my state career as a Medical and Behavioral Health Consultant with the Department of Social Services. In June 2009, upon my retirement from state service, Governor Jodi Rell cited me, stating: "Throughout your long tenure, you have earned the respect of your colleagues. You have displayed professionalism, an outstanding work ethic, and a commitment to excellence. You have shared your expertise, vision and compassion for others, not only your colleagues, but also the community-at –large. In your years with the state you have proven to be an inspirational leader and a role model for all citizens to follow." In my first term as state legislator, I had the honor and privilege of being appointed by the House Speaker to Chair the Regional Entities Workgroup of the Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (M.O.R.E.) Commission. In that capacity, I have been able to help lead the state's efforts to focus on strengthening our Council of Governments around the state to enable them to find regional solutions in three key areas; transportation, human service delivery, and back office functions. I was also honored by the bi-partisan Connecticut League of Conservation Voters as one of only nine legislators (out of 187) to be named as an Environmental Champion in both 2013 and 2014 for my work on clean energy. I have more than demonstrated my commitment, passion, and effectiveness in delivering results for my constituents.

Estimates of the state's unfunded pension and benefit liability for retired teachers and state employees are in the tens of billions of dollars. Should the state continue offering a defined benefit pension plan or switch to some type of 401(k) defined contribution plan, which has become standard in the private sector? Please explain why you do or do not support such a change.

I would not support any retroactive changes to the current state retirement system, but as we have done over the years, I would consider offering new employees other options which may include a 401(k) defined contribution plan. I also believe it is reasonable to consider a maximum cap on retirement benefits. Certainly pensions of $ 200,000 and above per annum should be deemed excessive and non-sustainable. I also believe anyone convicted of a felony should be denied future benefits. We also need to aggressively address the inadequate funding of current obligations.

If a bill came before the General Assembly to repeal or amend the gun control law passed last session after the school shootings in Newtown, would you vote to amend the law? If so, what would you want to change?

I would not support repealing the gun control law, but I would seriously consider amendments in at least three areas:

  • A time-limited amnesty program for those individuals who in good faith applied to register their guns but failed to meet the deadline

  • Removal of the requirement to register ammunition purchases

  • Address the loop-hole and inconsistency in out of state gun purchases

Any changes to the gun control bill should involve a broader group of stakeholders, including but not limited to public safety officials, police officers, sportsmen, and gun collectors. By being more inclusive, I believe we can help reduce much of the acrimony around the more emotional aspects of such legislation.

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