My Fellow Republicans,
When I announced my campaign for governor last June, it was exactly 19 years from the day I graduated from Trumbull High School.
My time at Trumbull High School taught me to love and fight for my community.
All these years later, I am humbled and filled with emotion as I think of the people who were instrumental in helping to shape my life. They instilled in me a deep love and appreciation for my community and our state.
I think about teachers like Rita Altieri and Jim Farnen who instilled in me a rich appreciation for government and civic participation.
I think about my late, great high school principal. Bob McCarthy was a leader who knew how to bring people together. I’ll never forget how he led by example with a strong desire to see that all students who passed through that school found success outside it.
I also think about the man that I played football for – Jerry McDougall. Coach McDougall taught us to have pride for ourselves and our community, a “can do” attitude that manifested a desire to win, and most importantly the value of sacrifice for the greater good. Playing football under Coach McDougall taught me to never sit on the sidelines when you can take action.
The values I learned at Trumbull High School took me to Trinity College, later to law school and into public service.
But the one role model that had the single greatest influence on my entire life, who taught me perseverance, appreciation for working people and a deep desire to leave a better future to the next generation, was my amazing grandmother.
She was a fighter in every sense of the word. Through a tough life she lived a truly remarkable story.
She lost her father at the age of six to tuberculosis. She and her two brothers were raised by single mother in the south end of Bridgeport during the Great Depression. Their mother could not read or write in English.
My grandmother once told me a story about how her family was so poor they were almost forced to go on welfare. Her mother refused and said to her children in broken English we don’t want the government doing for us what we can do for ourselves. That strong work ethic, courage and tenacity is the immigrant spirit. It is the American spirit.
My grandmother left school to go work in the family market to help put her brother George through college. She would later open a family business with her husband and spend years working behind the counter side-by-side with him.
Everything my grandmother did was an act of perseverance to build a better future for her family, her children and ultimately her nine grandchildren. When I was younger I didn’t fully appreciate all that she did for us. I appreciate her now more than ever.
She wanted every door that closed for her to open for us. She wanted her dreams to become our futures. As I stand here today, I am in awe of her remarkable, truly American story. The daughter of an immigrant single-mother who fought against adversity every day until she created a better life and more opportunity for her children and grandchildren.
The Connecticut that once made these incredible stories possible is slipping away.
Connecticut, sadly, has experienced one of the worst recoveries of any state in the nation from the Great Recession.
Under the failed leadership of Gov. Malloy and his Democratic insider allies, wages in Connecticut have flatlined, jobs and opportunity are fleeing our state and struggling workers, families and retirees have been continually asked to sacrifice more.
- Our economy is now ranked 49th in the country.
- Our cost of living is ranked 48th in the country.
- Our failing infrastructure is ranked 42nd in the country
- Our cost of doing business is ranked 47th in the country.
- Our tax and regulatory climate is ranked 45th in the country.
In order to change course and save our state we must elect a proven reformer who will leave no rock unturned in pursuit of fundamental reform to provide a new era of opportunity for taxpayers.
That is what I did eight years ago when I took office in Trumbull.
Taxes increased 54 percent in the eight years proceeding my term. Borrowing more than double during that same time. I inherited a broken pension system funded at just 27 percent and a town government bloated with patronage and big egos. I didn’t tiptoe around the edges. Instead, I took our town’s challenges head on.
I elected to lead by example. I refused a town pension and eliminated free healthcare. I eliminated pensions for political appointees.
All new hires now enter a defined contribution plan. We increased health care contributions, across the board. During my first 100 days in office, we identified $1 million in operational savings in the town budget. We took difficult, bold steps, working with our labor leaders, to reform our pension system.
The swift action we took in Trumbull has paid huge dividends. I left our pension system fully funded on an annual basis. There were less town employees than when I took office. We balanced eight budgets and cut taxes twice. Our credit rating was upgraded as a result of the reforms we pursued. We inspired business confidence and investment, with our economy growing every year I was in office.
The Trumbull Public Schools have been ranked in the top two school districts in the entire State of Connecticut. Our kids are among the highest achieving in Connecticut, with our schools being ranked as schools of distinction. Last year, our school system was ranked as being in the top ten most in demand in the nation.
I came into office as an outsider, committed to reform and it worked.
Now Connecticut stands at a fundamental crossroads between continuing down the path of failed leadership or sending a new generation of leaders to Hartford to shake things up. In my entire life, I never thought I would see our state in such a tragic, downward spiral.
Those of you that know me know I have an Irish father and a Syrian mother. I tell it like it is and I’m about the bottom line. Sometimes I’ve been called feisty – – and yes, sometimes worse than that. But don’t mistake my straight talk and no non-sense approach for anything less than passion and concern for the people of Connecticut. We have some tough battles ahead of us, and now more than ever, we need a fighter.
Here’s what I’m fighting for:
Pension reform that no longer mortgages our future.
Tax relief and less regulation that lift up our middle class, small businesses and job creators.
Lower government spending to get our fiscal house in order.
Public schools built on innovation to compete in a global economy.
Laws that protect law-abiding citizens and punish criminals.
A commitment to rebuilding our train lines, highways, roads and bridges to improve our quality of life and kick start our economic recovery.
Generations that came before us created this mess and it will be a new generation of leadership that is called upon to right our ship of state.
I have governed with the underlying belief that successful leaders lead by example. I did it in Trumbull. I’ll do it in Hartford.
When I’m elected Governor, I will refuse a state pension and move all state agency heads, political appointees and their staff to a defined contribution plan and off the state pension system.
I will demand an end to state pensions for a part-time citizen legislature and health care benefits that are far more generous than what is available in the private sector.
And I will refuse donations from Hartford lobbyists.
Rather than hike taxes on struggling Connecticut families and punish towns that have responsibly managed their budgets, I’ll hold accountable the state agencies mired in red tape and bureaucracy who waste your money and don’t deliver results.
And that starts by appointing an Inspector General who will route out waste, fraud and abuse at every level of government.
I will oppose tax hikes and job killing regulations in favor of monumental tax and regulatory reform, rooted in a pro-business, pro-growth agenda that rewards investment, hard work and provides opportunity.
I won’t cut funding for public safety as a crutch to balance the state budget. I will bring real reform to the most dysfunctional departments of state government, and I will start by completely dismantling the Department of Motor Vehicles as we know it.
We will make state government work for you, the people, not the other way around.
The solutions to our state’s crises are there what is missing is leadership, courage and an outsider perspective.
If you are a delegate to the CTGOP Convention this Saturday, I am asking for your vote for governor.
Together, we can elect a new generation of leaders to take back our state and once again make the reality of Connecticut live up to the promise of Connecticut.
The kind of place where the grandson of a woman raised by her immigrant single mother can find success and even run for the highest office in our state.
Thank you for all your support and confidence.
All the best,