Republicans gear up to challenge Haskell

While Toni Boucher may not currently be in the political spotlight, she is still involved in the political ins and outs going on in Wilton, and is keeping tabs on the 26th District State Senate race.

Two Republicans, Kim Healy of Wilton and Will Duff of Bethel, are mounting campaigns to challenge Democratic incumbent Will Haskell of Westport, to represent the 26th.

The district consists of all of Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton and parts of Bethel, New Canaan, Weston and Westport.

Boucher, a longtime Republican from Wilton, held the 26th District seat for 10 years, but was defeated in 2018 by Haskell, who was 22 at the time.

There was a great deal of speculation if Boucher would challenge Haskell for a rematch in 2020, but that’s not going to happen.

“After some soul searching, I decided this would be a good year to sit this one out. I’m not ruling out any future runs, but for now I am helping with candidate recruitment, support, and writing opinions,” she said.

She has been mentoring Kim Healy and has known Will Duff for a long time. “These are two great people I care about very much,” she said.

At this point, Boucher is not ready to endorse one candidate over the other. “I’m being helpful to both of them,” she said.

Chris Lineberger, the newly elected chairman of Wilton’s Republican Town Committee, said he is pleased that people are “stepping up” to run for office.

At this point in time, the RTC is selecting delegates for nominating conventions. When and how those conventions will be held remains to be seen. Many events are being postponed and canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kim Healy

The inability to conduct a door-to-door campaign is definitely an issue for Healy, who is new to the political process and is trying to connect with voters.

She wants voters to know more about her, including her professional background and life experiences as a parent, homeowner, taxpayer, and volunteer.

Healy has a financial background as a CPA and former auditor at Price Waterhouse Coopers. She is the treasurer of Wilton Library and a member of the Wilton Woman’s Club.

She and her husband have four children, aged 13 to 22, and have lived in Wilton since 2008.

“I had three friends move away from Connecticut in the last year for better jobs. That got me thinking about what was not being done by the officials in office and I knew that they should do better for the future of our state, for our children’s sake,” she said.

She also believes women are underrepresented in politics, another reason she’s throwing her hat into the ring. “Women need their voice at the table,” she said.

If elected, she intends to keep tabs on school regionalization, which had been proposed in the legislature last year but was then withdrawn amid public outcry and dissent. “It’s still a worry,” she said.

She’s also concerned about the state budget and bonding. “They claim they are on a debt diet but they just went through a vote on bonding and the numbers seem to be maximized. They weren’t willing to consider cutting any of it and lessening the burden on us in the future,” she said.

She said she’s hearing from residents who are concerned about the 8-30g affordable housing statute, and what its impact could be in Wilton. “Everything needs to make sense. A high-rise for downtown Wilton? We need to be protective of our town and space, and need to accommodate everyone’s opinion,” she said.

Will Duff

Duff is throwing his hat back into the ring after having served one term as a state representative of the 2nd District, which covers Bethel and parts of Danbury, Newtown and Redding, before he was defeated in 2018 by Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan.

He commends everyone that steps up to run for political office. “I don’t consider myself running against somebody, I am running for that position,” he said.

A lifelong resident of Bethel, Duff, 52, is a retired IT consultant and has served in several elected positions in that town, including as a member of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Education, Board of Assessment Appeals, and as town constable. “I’ve always been involved in community service,” he said.

His family also has a strong community service background. Duff’s father, Mike, served as chairman of the Bethel Police Commission and Assessment Board of Review. “My mother has volunteered for everything. Being part of the community has always been part of my life,” he said.

If elected, his goal is to go to Hartford and “turn the ship around.”

“I will focus on reining in out-of-control spending,” he said. “Businesses are leaving Connecticut because they can no longer afford to operate. The Democratic policy of taxing our way to prosperity has been proven to be a huge failure. I will fight to stop the wasteful spending and restore fiscal responsibility,” he said.

Since a good portion of the state budget is labor, he will also review labor contracts and other state contracts as well for cost savings.

Duff also has a strong interest in actions being taken about the coronavirus. Five years ago, his lungs failed, and he had a double-lung transplant. “It gave me second chance of life,” he said.

As a result, Duff is immunocompromised and is concerned about preventing contamination. Despite the governor’s order to shelter in place, Duff says he sees kids playing basketball in parks and people walking their dogs and chatting with each other.”It’s not the smartest thing to do during these times,” he said.

If Duff were in the state legislature now, he said, he would support an emergency bill if funds need to be dispensed for a public health plan at this time. “This disease is an equal opportunity destroyer and does not pick Democrats or Republicans to attack,” he said.