Candidate profiles for 125th District: David Bedell
"In this district I understand for many years it was a one-party system," David Bedell said. "This is the first year in a long time that there has been any competition for the state representative seat."
Mr. Bedell is running to address some of the issues he believes other party candidates are not — mainly clean, renewable energy and an overhaul of the state transportation system.
He believes a state energy plan that moves away from dependence on fossil fuels to an investment in renewable sources and energy is the way to go. A green jobs and loan program, he said, will put people back to work, bringing older buildings to energy-efficiency standards.
As a bicyclist, Mr. Bedell said, he is concerned about traffic laws in the state. He mentioned the state needs to do more to calm traffic and make roads more friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists. He also supports implementing a "vulnerable user law" that would pass additional fines onto drivers who injure or kill pedestrians. The bill was recently introduced in Connecticut, but did not pass.
He's also an advocate of improving Metro-North stations and installing signs to direct traffic and to make it easier for people to get on and off the platforms.
"This part of the state is very congested with a lot of commuters," Mr. Bedell said. "We need to improve the rail and bus service."
In addition, he said, there are limitations on different modes of transportation. For instance, he said, those who bring their bicycles on the trains are allowed to do so only during off-peak hours.
"There is no reason we couldn't have a system to carry bikes on all trains at all hours," Mr. Bedell said.
He also suggested a shuttle bus traveling between the Wilton and New Canaan stations would be helpful for commuters.
"My interest in public health has led me to advocate for healthier lifestyles, including bicycling and walking," Mr. Bedell said. "I'd like to see the state get away from its dependence on the automobile. I think the best way to do this is through transit planning and urban planning."
One thing bothering Mr. Bedell about the tax system in Connecticut is the cost of the school systems burdening local government to raise money to fund education. This, he said, has led to disparities in Connecticut and the quality of education since wealthier communities are able to contribute more than poorer communities.
"In other states, education funding is by state government or county level," Mr. Bedell said. "I think we really need to move in that direction. Instead of towns trying to plan property tax revenues, have the state fund education. That might mean an increase in the state income tax, but that would be offset by a decrease in property taxes, which would probably be a better option for seniors with limited income."
Regarding property taxes, Mr. Bedell referred to a state pilot program in New London — the land value tax. Instead of one property tax rate, he suggests a two-tiered tax rate. For instance, a 10% drop in the building tax rate would require that revenue loss be made up by an increase in the tax rate on land values. The direct effect, according to program options, is to put a greater reliance on land — publicly created value — over buildings, commerce or wages — privately created wealth.
"People don't add acreage, but people make improvements to their homes," he said. "I'd like to see those two revenue streams separated. Where it has been used has led to smarter development, and you end up having more focused development — like around centers of towns and around transportation hubs instead of people sprawling out away from the center of the population."
Mr. Bedell has lived in New Canaan since 1998 and is a teacher at the University of Connecticut and teaches English to international students at other schools. He has worked mainly as a teacher and in public health.
"My passions are for public health and education," he said. "These are the areas the state should invest in and these are the areas that would really improve the quality of life for residents in the state."
Mr. Bedell is treasurer of the Connecticut Green Party and a board member of Teachers Against Prejudice, and he taught English in China.
Mr. Bedell said he is "thriftily financing" his campaign and not accepting PAC money. His plan is to use his own funds and some small contributions and spend $1,000 on his campaign.
"Although I'm not taking the public elections fund, I am abiding by the spending limits," he said.