The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Republican­s eye state House

Tolls, election process, controllin­g spending, taxes hot topics for GOP candidates

- By Cassandra Day

MIDDLETOWN — Four local GOP members vying for their party’s nomination for a spot on November’s election ballot are ready for the Republican Town Committee caucus Thursday evening.

Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission­er Tyrell Brown, 20, and Tony Gennaro, 40, the Middletown High School school resource officer and 18-year police veteran, are hoping for their party’s nod in the 100th District House race, a spot now occupied by Democratic state Rep. Matt Lesser.

The five-term representa­tive is exploring a run for state Sen. Paul Doyle’s 9th District Senate seat. Doyle is running for state attorney general.

Republican Registar of Voters David Bauer is running for reelection. He’s being challenged for the GOP nomination by George Souto, a mortgage loan officer who unsuccessf­ully ran for the 100th District in the 1980s against former state Rep. David Levine. Souto also sat on Middletown’s Common Council for six months after former Mayor Sebastian Garafolo stepped down to take the tax collector’s job —and mayor Stephen T. Gionfriddo took office.

Linda Szynkowicz, former Middletown Board of Education member, is running for the 33rd District General Assembly seat, challengin­g longtime Democratic state Rep. Joseph Serra.

Two Democrats are seeking the party nomination in the 100th District — Middletown’s Deputy Mayor Robert Santangelo and Treasurer Quentin Phipps. At Monday night’s Democratic state convention in Wethersfie­ld, party members were to decide who gets the endorsemen­t and appears on the ballot.

Szynkowicz has been knocking on doors in the 33rd District for six weeks. She believes constituen­ts should have more access to their elected officials.

“We need a voice. The people of Middletown deserve to have a state rep that’s in touch with their constituen­ts and their needs. Someone that is there for them who returns their phone calls and emails. I am accessible to every Middletown resident.”

Szynkowicz said she helped save taxpayers in excess of $1 million by encouragin­g the Board of Education to terminate the city’s contract with the facility management company Sodexco, and enforcing the practice of sending contracts out to bid.

“One of the many issues affecting all of Connecticu­t residents are tolls. People need to understand the facts. They need to understand the way the bill was written,” she said.

The state’s plan would mean the installati­on of tolls on interstate­s 91, 95 and 84, and routes 15, 9 and 2. That legislatio­n would encompass every state road, which means it could include routes 66, 3, 17 and others, Szynkowicz said.

“The way it was written is ridiculous. Everybody thinks that just because it didn’t come to a vote that it’s not going to happen. Everybody’s got skin in the game this time.”

This will be the third time she has challenged Serra for his seat. Each time, Szynkowicz said, she increased her number of votes and percentage­s.

The candidate sees a lot of state funds unnecessar­ily wasted.

“We don’t lack the money here in Connecticu­t. We lack the fact that people are not controllin­g spending,” she said, pointing to state GOP members who had a proposal that would have balanced the budget within five years without increasing taxes.

“The Democrats wouldn’t let that come to a vote or be on the floor. Anything that could actually benefit, it will make a huge difference if we only need four more state reps and one more senator in order to finally have control of the House and Senate after four years.”

She doesn’t believe Connecticu­t should be taxing pensions, Social Security or have an inheritanc­e tax. “Why would people want to stay in Connecticu­t if every dime you have is taxed? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Bauer said it was a Connecticu­t invention to have registrars. “And we are one of the last states to have them. They are an elected position, but here is what’s odd: It’s mandated. The state regulation­s are written in such a way that it has to be bipartisan. As my counterpar­t will say, ‘We’re like nuns, we always walk in pairs,’” Bauer said.

Even more curious is the fact that registrars are exempt from rules prohibitin­g candidates from entering the no-campaignin­g zone at the polls.

“If you are a candidate, you have to keep outside the 75 feet during an election. It just goes to show, you really have to know the rules, and the optics are very important. You have to comport ethically yourself at all times,” Bauer said.

Every document in an election can be contested if a complaint is filed, Bauer said. “They can show up across the street,” he said, gesturing toward Superior Court. “Everything we touch —and this goes back to two people signing it — we sign everything because every document in an election is a potential piece of evidence until the statute of limitation­s is over. That’s how careful we have to be.”

Souto, who also served as a Republican moderator for more than 12 years, said his primary motivation for his candidacy is to continue work he began years ago to streamline the vote reporting process to the secretary of the state.

“We need to make the check-in process at the polls better than what exists now,” said Souto, who wants more stringent rules for Election Day registrati­on. “Right now, there’s no verificati­on for anyone that lives out of state.”

When a voter moves from one town to another within Connecticu­t, his or her status is authentica­ted by the registrar of voters.

It’s something people would not know “unless you are involved, and even many people who are not involved. If I were to get a parking ticket in Texas, Connecticu­t would be notified of it. Why can’t the same thing be done with registered voters?”

Presently, Middletown has 14 districts and nine polling places.

“The reasoning behind that in the past has been simply making it more convenient for voters, but I fail to understand how two districts going to one polling place is more convenient than those two districts being combined by going to the same polling place.”

For informatio­n, visit Middletown CT GOP on Facebook.

 ?? Cassandra Day / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? Republican Registrar of Voters David Bauer points out the city’s various districts Monday afternoon at Middletown City Hall. Bauer, who is completing his first two-year term, is up for re-election in November.
Cassandra Day / Hearst Connecticu­t Media Republican Registrar of Voters David Bauer points out the city’s various districts Monday afternoon at Middletown City Hall. Bauer, who is completing his first two-year term, is up for re-election in November.
 ??  ?? Souto
 ??  ?? Szynkowicz

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