Jeannette Ross photos About 50 supporters from across the 26th State Senate District turned out Sept. 16 when state Sen. Toni Boucher officially announced her exploratory campaign for governor. Drawing on the weather-related news of late, Boucher acknowledged local leaders in attendance, who she said are facing the "headwinds of a very bloated, spendthrift, mismanaged state government that is threatening our towns, our schools, our businesses, our seniors and our taxpayers ... and we have a plan to fix it." Referencing downgraded credit ratings and the exit of companies such as G.E. and Aetna, she said, "There is no question Connecticut has a serious problem." She described the state's fiscal condition as a "Category 5 hurricane swirling around every taxpayer in Connecticut. The storm surges we face are billion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see." https:\/\/youtu.be\/MUhMQQ-hhJs Why does Boucher want to put herself in the eye of this storm? "I care about this state," she said, "a state that has given me and millions of others every opportunity to succeed. As a poor immigrant child not speaking a word of English, Connecticut gave me and my family everything. It is where I learned the language, raised my right hand at the age of 10 to become a citizen in New Haven, received an education, helped to create new businesses and raise my family." Serving as an elected official, Boucher said, is "a rare privilege - it's an honor, a duty, a passion." She went on to point out the budget minority Republican legislators presented won the support of enough Democratic senators and representatives to pass in the legislature and move on to the governor. "The outvoted Republicans in the senate demonstrated what they can do to win with a key sense of knowledge of the process and the people they have to deal with and with tenacity and determination undeterred by opposition." "We have proved, I believe, beyond a doubt that we can lead the state out of the mess the other side has put us in," the Republican senator said. Pointing to her own experience, she said, "When your financial house is on fire, it is no time for someone new to the process, the departments or the people you need to negotiate with. Connecticut doesn't have time for years of learning curve or training." Her experience over a lifetime of municipal and state-level service has given her the skills, strength and stamina and tactics to win, she said. Before serving as a five-term state senator, Boucher was Wilton's state representative for 12 years and also served on the town's Board of Selectmen and Board of Education. She has also had a 25-year career as a financial services executive. Unlike others running, she said, "I've been serving in elective office and running businesses, understanding first-hand what businesses need to grow and to thrive." To win the governor's mansion, Republicans will need a candidate Democrats will vote for. "In the last election I received the most votes of any opposed state senate candidate of either party in Connecticut due to a very high crossover vote from the other side," Boucher said. Using a PowerPoint presentation, Boucher outlined her "Plan for a Better Connecticut," including: Establish Connecticut as a place where businesses can flourish and families can live and work in a thriving economy; Commuters can travel on modern highways and rails; Children have access to an excellent education. https:\/\/youtu.be\/lnVV9IXxRkw "With the right person and leadership we can turn this state around," she said. "Our message is positive, it's a message of hope. It's a message of bringing Connecticut back to the state we all knew and love." Among those in the audience were Wilton's former first selectmen Bill Brennan and Bob Russell, First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice, Second Selectman Mike Kaelin, former Board of Finance member Mike Lindberg, Selectman Lori Bufano, Planning and Zoning Commissioners Andrea Preston and Melissa Rotini, Board of Selectman candidate Joshua Cole, Weston First Selectman Nina Daniel, state Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28), and former Probate Judge Joe Egan. Boucher's website is boucherforct.com.