BRISTOL - Democratic incumbent Chris Ziogas will be challenged on Nov. 6 by Republican David Rackliffe for state representative for Bristol’s 79th district.
Ziogas, a former two-term city council member, was elected to represent the district in 2016. Rackliffe, a Bristol resident, is a healthcare consultant and former Bristol Hospital executive.
Earlier this year, the two expressed opposing views on Gov. Dannel Malloy’s $10 million toll feasibility study.
“We have commissioned a study every year for the past four years,” Rackliffe said. “There is enough information out there.”
Ziogas said that he is “open to discussing” tolls.
“It’s a proposed solution to the problem of our decaying infrastructure,” said Ziogas. “Our infrastructure is not considered to be up to grade. This has been a problem that has been building up for many years. Improving our transportation makes it easier for people to come in and out of our state and results in an increase in new businesses. By improving our infrastructure, we improve our quality of life and the value of our homes.”
Rackliffe said that were tolls to be implemented, 70 percent of the revenues that they would generate would be from state residents, with only 30 percent coming from people out of state. He argued that there is “enough spending at the state level” and “enough taxes for our citizens.”
“People are tired of taxes and tolls are just another way to put revenues into the hands of the people who have been spending all of our money,” he said.
The two also expressed some of their views at a debate earlier this month.
During the debate, Ziogas pointed out that he brought funding back to Bristol for the renovation of Memorial Boulevard School. He said he had learned the process in Hartford, adding that “I’m nobody’s man but yours.”
Ziogas stressed that the budget process is “tight” and that last session was democrats and republicans versus Gov. Malloy. He said he is confident that the state’s investments will pay off soon and that people will start to come back to Connecticut.
“There is a light ahead,” he said.
Ziogas said he supports training a skilled workforce for major employers looking to fill positions. He said he likes tolls because it “creates an avenue to grow the state” and “has a net cost to citizens of almost zero.”
Rackliffe said he remembered when Connecticut was the “gold standard” for quality of life and income. Now, he said, it is at the bottom of the barrel.
Rackliffe said his top priorities are providing fiscal stability, working across the aisle to make government more efficient and getting bonding back under control.
Rackliffe agreed with promoting training for technology jobs. He also said regulations should be reduced because they are “crippling small businesses.” He said he supports entrepreneurship and innovation.
Staff writers Brian Johnson and Susan Corica contributed to this article.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.