Tony Siragusa, 67, is a Vietnam veteran who served 18 years in the Connecticut National Guard, a retired traffic engineer who spent 29 years working at the Department of Transportation and has been married to his wife for 44 years.
And now he wants to be your state representative.
For the second election in a row, Siragusa, a Republican, is looking to unseat State Rep. Betsy Ritter for the 38th District, which covers Waterford and part of Montville. What inspired the Montville man to run?
“I was discouraged the way the government was going, and I said somebody has to speak out,” Siragusa said.
Siragusa spent nearly two hours with Patch at his home in Uncasville, discussing everything from the issues he feels strongly about to how he serves as the “volunteer handyman” of his community. His fundamental platform is that the state government needs to do more to help municipalities, while stop issuing mandate after mandate to those municipalities.
Siragusa said the state government doesn’t give enough money to municipalities, and said the money they do give is far too mandated. The solution is for the state government to give more, so property taxes will not increase.
“I think the state government should be helping the towns,” he said. “What has got to happen is the state has to give the town governments money. If they freeze the property taxes for a few years, let us catch out breaths, then we have a chance.”
How does he hope to pay for that? Siragusa would not rule out tax increases, but said the better way to do it is to reduce state government spending in other areas. He said the state government – aside from the budget for police and the department of corrections - could cut 3 percent of its budget without impacting anybody.
“The state government can always be reduced to some degree,” Siragusa said. “I would think you could just tell state government is to cut 3 percent… My position is I’m going to cut spending. Once you start talking about more taxes, than you forget to cut the spending.”
He also wanted to shift the tax policy. Siragusa said he can’t understand why essential items are taxed, like gasoline and heating oil, and said there should only be a tax on luxuries.
“I don’t believe in taxing the necessities in life,” Siragusa said. “You know, I need heating oil. Why tax that? I don’t have a choice. I have a choice to buy a car or a boat or a watch or jewelry.”
Siragusa had some other plans as well to cut government spending. For example, he said political parties should pay for their own primaries – not taxpayers.
“Why should (taxpayers) pay for my party’s primaries?” Siragusa said. “That’s doesn’t sound right to me.”
He also was against programs like Gov. Dannel Malloy’s “First Five” programs, which give million-dollar incentives to million-dollar companies. Siragusa said he would support incentives for small or emerging companies, but not for large companies.
“Your are bribing companies to come here,” he said. “Once they collect all the money from the bribe, they start looking for the next bribe.”
When asked about his opponent, Siragusa said Ritter is a “nice person.” But he said the four-term state representative puts her party ahead of what’s right.
“Well, if you look at things she supported, it's pretty scary,” Siragusa said.
Siragusa argued that most Democrats vote the way the leadership tells them to vote, rather than what the people want. For example, he pointed out Ritter’s vote to repeal the death penalty in Connecticut, when more than 60 percent of Connecticut people favor the death penalty.
“My feeling is most of the people within the (Democratic) party, they do what their told,” Siragusa said. “They don’t necessarily make new laws or recommendations. They vote the way they are told.”
Siragusa said there needs to be more Republicans voted into the state legislature, so that way there is some check and balances on power. Right now, Democrats can do whatever they want, he said.
“(If there were equal amounts of Republicans and Democrats), each one would have to talk to each, each party would have to compromise,” Siragusa said. “Now, there is no compromise.”