This is the first of a three-part series introducing candidates appearing on Newtown ballots on Election Day, and at The Newtown Bee's Candidates Forum October 16 at Edmond Town Hall.
Two years ago, Newtown encompassed two state legislative districts. The 106th District, which overlaps most of the community, has for two terms been represented in Hartford by Democrat Chris Lyddy.
Then there is the 112th District — overlapping a southern cluster of neighborhoods in Botsford and Hattertown — represented for five terms by Republican DebraLee Hovey.
But in December 2011, a low key statewide redistricting initiative provided Newtown with a new overlapping legislative district. Today, about 1,000 residents in the western end of Dodgingtown are part of that Second District, which also incorporates parts of Danbury, Bethel, and Redding.
The Second District is currently represented by first-term Republican Dan Carter, a Bethel resident who was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. He is being challenged this fall by Democrat, fellow Bethel resident, and Danbury native Steven DeMoura.
Rep Carter has worked in a progression of capacities in private and military service, from his first job sweeping up at a lumber yard through his ROTC years in college and active military service as an Air Force pilot; his responsibilities as an instructor and air crash investigator to his work in medical and pharmaceutical sales, and the recent establishment of his own consulting firm.
Mr DeMoura, a proud father-to-be, is an attorney at Danbury's Pinney Payne law firm, and is serving his first elected term on the Bethel Board of Assessment Appeals.
In separate interviews September 25, both of the candidates spoke about their ideas, and how they would work on behalf of both immediate constituents and the entire state. Both Mr DeMoura and Rep Carter asserted why he believed he was the best individual to lead and serve the Second District for the next two years.
Mr DeMoura said he feels like an unofficial Newtown resident because he resides just over the town line off Route 302 with his wife Kathryn, who is due with the couple's first child in December.
"We eat at Tambascio's, we get ice cream at Ferris Farm, we love the breakfasts at Leo's, and I play soccer in a men's league at Treadwell Park," Mr DeMoura said, referring to the former name of King's on South Main Street. "So I'm in Newtown all the time."
Besides his current elected duties on Bethel's BOAA, Mr DeMoura is past president of the Greater Danbury Bar Association, serves on the board of the Danbury Portuguese Cultural Arts Center, and has coached local youth soccer leagues. He said he wants to be a fresh voice in Hartford, while working to bring back as much state support for the communities he represents as possible.
"I'm not a career politician," he said. "I want to be a citizen representative. I know what it's like to be working hard and still feeling the economic challenges we're all facing."
It is no surprise that two lead platforms of Mr DeMoura's campaign are creating jobs and enhancing the state's education system.
"I think Connecticut can create jobs while keeping spending in check and protecting critical social programs," he said. "Early childhood education is a particular passion of mine. We need to make sure funding is there — also for our vocational and technical schools, which are training the state's future workforce."
The Democratic candidate said both his parents worked in the state's voc/tech schools, and his wife is an elementary school teacher.
Since his work involves criminal and civil litigation, Mr DeMoura believes that rehabilitation of individuals in the correction system is an achievable goal for many.
"I can see the rehabilitation of criminals is possible — to educate and reform those who can be to become productive contributors to society," he said.
Mr DeMoura said if elected, his first job would be to sit with local officials in the towns he serves to determine the type of grants and support each community wanted from Hartford, and then he would go to work "advocating and ensuring we're not forgotten."
He said he loves Connecticut, and that there is a lot of good going on in the state.
"But we can do much better on jobs," he said. "We're really still struggling economically."
And while he cannot imagine pleasing all of the people all of the time, Mr DeMoura said he sees a place for all opinions to inform the work he hopes to do in Hartford.
"I may not always do what everybody wants, but I will always take all points into consideration," he said. "I am a person with integrity who follows through when I have a responsibility."
Jobs And Taxes
Rep Carter said if he wins a second term, his goals for the next two years will closely mirror the goals from his first term in Hartford.
"I still have great concerns about creating jobs," he said. "But I'm more concerned now about how much the state is spending to try and create jobs. I think we're overboard."
He said he campaigned in 2010 on keeping state taxes in check, but was unsuccessful in supporting a GOP initiative to try and accomplish that after the Democratically controlled statehouse took control of the process.
"People feel stretched, and they are still having a lot of trouble finding and keeping jobs," he said.
Having served on the Legislature's Public Health, Energy, and Banking Committees, Rep Carter said he is well into or past the learning curve on a lot of important issues.
"Public Health is a very good commission for me to be on, because of this looming crisis in health care we are facing," he said. Unfortunately, when he would have liked to dig in to learning about and supporting programs to reduce energy costs and consumption in the state, much of the work of the Energy Committee involved monitoring and fixing issues tied to state utilities' response to the two devastating storms in 2011.
Overall, Rep Carter sees his biggest victory as a supporter of the state's bipartisan jobs bill, as well as his support for a business entity tax reduction, which was reduced by half with his support.
"I also fought to cap the gross receipts tax on gasoline, but we couldn't kill the increase planned for 2013," he said. "We should eliminate that cap altogether. These taxes go up exponentially whenever gas [prices] go up."
In the Public Health arena, Rep Carter also succeeded in defeating a bill that would have permitted as much as 30 percent increases in malpractice insurance rates for state physicians. And in response to requests from his constituents in Bethel, Rep Carter helped facilitate a Department of Community and Economic Development session between business owners and state officials that he said resulted in a number of local businesses expanding.
But when it comes to one-on-one constituent service, Rep Carter recalls one of the first calls he received after being elected.
"I had a constituent call about a deer carcass that was on state land near I-84, but not on DOT property. So the DOT wouldn't touch it," Rep Carter recalled. "So I just called up my best friend and we went out there with shovels and plastic bags and took care of the problem ourselves."
Rep Carter said he has built a lot of bridges among his colleagues of both parties, and many of the community, government, and neighborhood groups in the towns he serves.
"So when I go back to Hartford in November, although my district represents about a thousand people in Newtown, I'm really going there to fight for all of Newtown. The same holds true for Danbury, Bethel and Redding," he said.
The next segment in this series will introduce the candidates for the 112th District.Watch for it on at newtownbee.com.