ENFIELD, CT — The 2020 election is heating up in Connecticut and there are plenty of races with candidates eager to serve in elected office. Eyes are primarily focused on the presidential election, but every state representative and senate seat is up for grabs. All five of Connecticut's congressional seats are up for grabs as well.
There are 151 seats in the state House of Representatives and 36 in the state Senate. Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers with a 91 to 60 lead over Republicans in the House and a 22 to 14 lead in the Senate.
Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.
Enfield resident Mary Ann Turner is running for election to the House of Representatives District 58.
Party affiliation: Republican
Family: Edward J. Turner - Husband and our lab, Buster Brown
Occupation: Business Owner - Projects Unlimited - 27 years
Previous elected experience: Enfield Constable, Republican Chairman, ZBA Secretary, Economic Development Commissioner, North Central Health District Board Member,
Family members in government: No
Campaign website: TurnerforEnfield.com
The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
An urgent issue facing the state is the budget. Mismanagement and the resulting massive debt problem has been an irresponsible "kick the can down the road" process for more than 40 years. Connecticut has one of the highest unfunded pension liabilities in the nation. The annual state contributions to fund state worker and teacher retirement could be about $12 billion annually, and the Yankee Institute says it is more like $50 billion. If that doesn’t scare Connecticut residents, retirees and businesses, it should.
Lawmakers over-promised and underfunded these pensions for years. We need more elected legislators in Hartford who will have the guts to tell the truth to Connecticut residents and put their political aspirations aside. I plan on being one such legislator.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
The biggest difference is that I am and have been in the community, directly helping people, hands-on, and getting things done for my fellow residents in Enfield for years.
For example, while campaigning in the 58th, I met someone struggling with unemployment services. For more than seven months she tried to work with the department of labor and the current state representative. She felt frustrated how both were unresponsive to her requests for help. I worked with her on the problem and we had her situation resolved completely in a couple days. I have encountered several issues, some easy, like fixing a tipper barrel or street light or connecting the right town official to resolve a problem. I like being part of the "fix" not the problem. That is what I plan to do in Hartford.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I have an abundance of real world, business and organizational management experience - from owning my own business, Projects Unlimited for the past 27 years to serving as a commissioner on several town boards.
Currently I am a Zoning Board of Appeals commissioner in town (14 years), and an Economic Development Commissioner (3 Years), where I was instrumental in developing the current Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) which will subsidize companies by helping finance development in an certain areas in town.
This year alone, I spearheaded several initiatives to help and encourage people during this COVID crisis - Free Masks CT drive at the high school, mask deliveries for the staff at Parkway Pavilion, obtained and delivered masks for the Little Sisters of the Poor, all the Fire Departments and EMS, implemented the #SendALittleLove campaign for the elderly residents of Parkway Pavilion, as well as organized the Bright Nights for Heroes Car Parade to honor our town heroes.
In the past, with the help of Karen Jarmoc, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Network Against Domestic Abuse. I am a past president of the Enfield Rotary Club, a former board member of the North Central Health District (10 years) and for the last 14 years have been the Enfield Republican Chairman with a success rate of seven terms of Republican leadership guiding and serving the great people of Enfield.
My resume is filled with action, not words and I believe giving back is very important in our community. I am ready to go the Harford and make a difference.
Do you believe Connecticut needs reform when it comes to electric utility oversight? What steps, if any should be taken?
There are three parties complicit in the recent fiascoes with utility services and billing - the state legislature, the state regulatory agency PURA, and Eversource. Each has a responsibility for the results of service disruption and increased delivery fees.
Eversource enjoys a state-sanctioned monopoly in Connecticut. For the benefit of not having one single competitor, the utility company agrees to be highly regulated (controlled) by our government in the service the utility delivers and pricing it charges. Although there is certainly blame to be levied on the utility, there was a notable absence of accountability for the legislative body and the regulatory commission, PURA. Instead, we witnessed a political sideshow of self-righteous indignation towards Eversource when, truth be told, our government had, and has, a hand in the appalling billing statements and lack of responsiveness to service outages.
Government can't have it both ways - virtually control an industry then absolve itself of any responsibility when things go sour. When it comes to communicating the goings on in Hartford I will be sharing more regularly then we currently have today.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
Governor Lamont made some decisions that we need to keep, forever. Outdated regulations that have constrained Connecticut businesses seem to have become easy to disregard or circumvent during COVID. For instance, the governor suspended needless licensing and registration requirements so plumbers and electricians can complete their continuing education online…Let’s keep that.
Restaurants can’t have more than 25 people inside, 100 outside, but some how the governor permitted expedited approval for outdoor dining and allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages to go…Let’s’ keep that.
Do I agree that restaurants and salons, and other types of businesses need to be shut down or limited to one customer at a time…no I don’t. But if we learned anything over the last seven months, we can function with less regulation and red tape. The General Assembly should move to pass these common-sense reforms and probably think about a few more using the “lessons learned” during COVID. This will make doing business in Connecticut easier. Businesses don't need more rules and regulations, they need less.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
First and foremost I stand with our police and correction officers and disagree completely with the passing of the Police Accountability Bill. This bill should never have been brought up during the special session in July. It was not vetted properly, public participation was limited and rushed, and getting the people who are affected by this terrible bill to the table and ask for their help was ignored. This bill was a political maneuver and did little, if anything, to make our communities safer.
Second, state spending needs to be curtailed. Unless the General Assembly and the Governor seriously look at the budget line-by-line nothing will change. Connecticut will not grow, people will continue to leave, and Enfield will have to figure out a way to survive without the municipal aid it is supposed to get. When a plastic bag has to be taxed as a revenue stream something is wrong.
Lastly, we have had decades of fiscal mismanagement and irresponsible bonding, which has damaged Connecticut’s credit rating. It has to stop and it has to stop soon. That is why I am asking for your vote on November 3rd.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I believe people are capable of achieving amazing things when encouraged and I have seen great things from so many I have helped and guided over the years. My husband and I have been married for 41 years and moved to Enfield in October of 1979. We do not have any children of our own, but we have some amazing nieces and nephews that we think of as our own and over the years we have rescued eight dogs, all older and gave them a very special home.
On November 3rd I ask for your vote. I can guarantee you I won't be the stereotypical politician. I will listen. I will be a strong voice for you in Hartford. I will give you straight answers. Although, you may not always like the answer that is given, I'll give you one, and I promise I'll be one of the best legislators you have ever had.