The message Republican incumbent Gail Lavielle takes from her constituents in the 143rd state House District is fear for their futures. It is one she hears over and over again, she said, and it is one she takes to heart.

What I hear from everyone I talk to, regardless of their party, is they are very worried they don’t have a future in Connecticut because they can’t afford it, or can’t find a job here, or their parents can’t stay because they are retired.”

Their fear, she said, “is due to concerns about taxes, jobs, and the state's lagging economy. To address these concerns, we must put restoring the health of Connecticut’s finances and economy front and center, and do so urgently,” she told The Bulletin.

“The Connecticut economy has shrunk 8% in the last decade, and we are the only New England state that hasn’t recovered all the jobs lost during the recession. The priority I have is turning that around,” Lavielle said.

In terms of action, she highlighted the following:


  • Reducing taxes and spending, including the reform of state labor costs, and non-essential borrowing.

  • Growing the tax base to create a fiscal, economic, and regulatory environment that is attractive to new and current businesses and affordable for retirees.

  • Making necessary investments in transportation by upgrading the most heavily used rails and roads, fixing what doesn’t work or isn’t safe before building anything new, controlling the Department of Transportation’s high construction costs.

  • Investing in education by reducing the number of mandates, providing equitable funding for all districts, and no funding surprises for districts and towns.

  • Providing essential services for the truly needy.


“These things are all intertwined and must be done simultaneously — not all at once, but purposefully over a period of time, and according to a plan that will inspire confidence among people and businesses,” she said.

Another hot-button issue is tolls, and she said they are not a short-term means of raising revenue.

“For the near future, we have the gas tax, the gross receipts tax, a portion of the sales tax, and the sales tax on new cars, as well as general obligation bond funding that can be used for transportation,” she said. In the future, if more and more vehicles are running on electricity or alternative fuels, the state should examine ways to make up lost gas tax revenues.

“If those were to include tolls, it would be only in the context of the natural elimination of the gas tax,” she said.

With the GOP working hard to turn the Capitol red by electing a Republican governor and flipping the majority in the general assembly, Lavielle was asked her views on issues such as abortion and legalized marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana for its value as a revenue generator is not appropriate, she said.

“I think all facets of the issue should be evaluated,” she said. “I am opposed to drug use myself, but because I feel so strongly that the government does not belong in people’s personal business, it would be inconsistent to say the government should be telling adults not to use marijuana.

“However, if it were to be legalized, I think we would need to develop a way to tell whether someone performing an activity that could be a danger to others, like driving, is doing so while impaired by marijuana. I am very supportive of research that will help us do that, as well as to learn more about all of marijuana’s effects — both those that are harmful and those that are helpful.”

Abortion has also become a common talking point in national politics. Again, Lavielle said it is a “strictly personal decision, and that the government has no role to play in it. I respect everyone’s decision, regardless of what it is, because it is personal to them.

“But everyone’s decision should be their own, and no one else’s. I want to note that I am endorsed by Planned Parenthood. I have voted for and sponsored many bills that preserve protections for personal decisions, protect healthcare, choice, rights, and access for women, men, children, and the LGBTQ community.”

She added she does not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

Seniority

Lavielle believes she is positioned to be an effective representative on these issues because of her experience in the office, and the relationships she has built.

“I have good seniority and credibility, and I’m at a stage where I can get things done,” Lavielle said. “Connecticut is in a dire fiscal crisis, and I think we need people there who have solving it as their number one priority.”

Lavielle serves as an Assistant Republican Leader, the House Ranking Member of the General Assembly Education Committee and as a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, the Transportation Committee.

She cites numerous accomplishments from her years of service, but is especially proud of battling Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s so-called eminent domain bill.

“There was a bill introduced by the governor called the Governor’s Bill for Transit Coordination Development Authority, which would have allowed a panel of political appointees to come into any town and within a mile radius of a train or bus station, do anything it wanted without the town’s approval. Eminent domain, tear down anything they wanted, build anything they wanted. I called it eminent domain on steroids. I testified against it, wrote an op-ed about it, and publicized it a great deal and stuck amendments on it so it could never get through the House, and killed it. Every town was horrified they would be told what to do,” she said.

Endorsements

In addition to Planned Parenthood, Lavielle has been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, CT Business and Industry Association, CT Realtors, Association of Retired Teachers of CT, and the National Foundation of Independent Business.

She has also been given honor roll distinction by the CEA (CT Education Association), which does not give endorsements.

Information: gaillavielle.com.

— Tony Spinelli contributed to this story.