REDDING, Conn. A vote for Dan Carter in the race for the 2nd House District is a vote for a 45-year-old health care consultant and former Air Force pilot who has lived in Bethel for eight years. Carter is a regional YMCA board member and former member of the Redding Parks and Recreation Commission and special education advisory council for the governors office. Hes the divorced father of two children who live in Redding who likes to fly and read.
We asked him five questions about the campaign:
The Daily Voice: What are biggest issues facing your district?
Carter: The biggest issue is jobs. When you go around and talk to folks, thats what you hear. ... Ive met a ton of people who are underemployed, so thats a huge issue. If you look at per capita income, its about $4,000 less per year for families. There are other issues related to that. State spending: We have increased budgets the last four years and spending has gone up dramatically in the last year alone about $4 billion and we had to raise revenue associated with it. The taxes and fees, and thats whats been killing a lot of businesses. Theyre getting hit with taxes and fees and regulations they have to comply with that are not funded. People are underwater right now. Until we fix those issues, nothing else really happens. Education matters but no one complains about education budgets when times are good. We have to make education reform, but the economy has to get back on track in the state.
The Daily Voice: Youve served one term as a state representative. What are your biggest achievements?
Carter: Its hard to see major accomplishments when youre in the minority. Its one-party rule in this state. But the jobs bill was a huge accomplishment. It was bipartisan and came at a time when the governor needed something. As a result, everyone was at the table for that and it was nice. Some funding programs to assist small businesses that I took advantage of made it a real win, personally. As soon as it went through, I brought the Department of Community Development to Bethel to talk to the Chamber of Commerce, and we had businesses take advantage of that and expand, including Bethel Power. The cherry on top was money came from the governors bonding money, which we converted, and it went to jobs. That was the high point.
The Daily Voice: Do you think Connecticut is going in the right or wrong direction?
Carter: No I dont like where were going. Were teetering on financial disaster. We have an amazing state, great people, great resources, great region for tourism and manufacturing and proximity to major cities. Its a great place to live. ... But the cost of living is ridiculous, taxes are ridiculous. I met a 75-year-old woman yesterday who paid off her mortgage 35 years ago. Shes paying $8,000 in property taxes, and shes on a fixed income and has a hard time keeping her house. That shouldnt happen. Were way out of whack with the way we spend in this state. ... Last year I put in a bill that would have led to a decline in unemployment benefits. Unemployment would taper off over time and people would feel the pinch and move forward. ... Instead of getting flat benefits they should decline so youll be forced to go out and do something.
The Daily Voice: What do you do to involve constituents in the decision-making process?
Carter: I do health care advocacy talks so people see what we do in Hartford. I go around to groups and explain how they can write letters. Three things a politician does are campaigning, legislative work and constituent service. The biggest is constituent service.
The Daily Voice: How do view your opponent Steven DeMoura and why should people vote for you?
Carter: My opponent is a nice guy with a good heart. Im confident and jump into things. People understand I give 120 percent. The hard work ethic is what I have, which is a lot better than what he has. ... Ive proven Im the hardest-working guy in politics, but I am new and still have a fresh perspective. I just started this two years ago, and Im still fighting the same battle. I came in to make changes to get a hold of state spending and reduce taxes, those are the big deals. My opponent will go to Hartford and wont vote that way. Anyone who goes to Hartford as a first-term Democrat is a rubber stamp for Malloy. Its the nature of the beast. ... I can be independent of my party and the Democrats. 76 percent of the time last year I voted with the Democrats. Good bills we worked on together but the 24 percent were huge issues - the budget, death penalty, minimum wage, forced unionization of day care workers and in the election world same day voter registration.