Three-way race for 123rd District

The race to represent Trumbull in the 123rd District comes down to two business owners who tout their amateur politician status and a petition candidate who says he is the only one in the race who is a pro at the political game.

Democrat Tom Christiano and Republican David Rutigliano both are running a campaign based on making the state more business-friendly. Louis Bevilacqua, an unaffiliated petitioner, who calls himself a "public administrator by profession," has called for overhauling the state's tax system from top to bottom.

Read full text of each candidate's 500-word OP-ED on why they deserve to be elected:

Thomas Christiano

David Rutigliano

Louis Bevilavqua

""I will fight for a greater share of Educational Cost Sharing monies to our town and a more equitable formula, but we also need to prevent the over taxation of home owners by local collectors," Bevilacqua said. "How can the people get back on their feet while being attacked from every direction, with government on all levels holding out their hand?"

Bevilacqua also called for tax breaks for seniors and lessening of the tax burden for "people who have fallen on hard times with low asset ratios."

As a business owner, David Rutigliano has seen first-hand the effect of government on the business community.

He said Connecticut must become more competitive or it risks continuing to lose its best and brightest to states like North Carolina and Florida.

"Young people follow the opportunities," Rutigliano said. "With our location between New York and Boston, we should be a beacon of freedom in the Northeast."

Rutigliano, who co-owns the SBC chain of restaurant/brew pubs, said he has watched as young teens who work washing dishes and busing tables in his restaurants and worked their way through college have come up to him and told him they were leaving.

"They say, 'Mr. R I'm moving on, I got an opportunity to begin my career,'" Rutigliano said. "When I ask them where they're going, no one ever says Connecticut."

To make Connecticut more attractive to businesses and young professionals, Rutigliano said the state must repeal the retroactive tax hikes that hit businesses and consumers.

"We can't tax our way out of this economy, we have to grow our way out," he said. He said he would work to overcome the mentality that state government gets first priority when residents make out their family budgets.

Christiano, who owns a storage facility in Monroe, formerly represented the 134th District before the state redrew the district lines. He called himself the embodiment of the people he hopes to represent in Hartford.

"When the economy is bad, people only have so much to spend to store stuff and there are months I live month to month and after the mortgage and tuition payments, we have to start over again next month," he said. "I'm a busy guy and I wouldn't be doing this unless I believed I could make a difference. But I've gotten things done before when people said I couldn't."

For example, Christiano said he was able to increase the amount of state aid coming to Trumbull, despite naysayers calling it impossible.

"They said I would never get money for the district, but I did," he said. "It reopened the Hillcrest planetarium and helped refurbish Town Hall."

Christiano said his work also flew under the radar because much of it was preventing things from happening, which doesn't get as much attention, he said.

"There was talk of cutting funds for the Agriscience Center, but it didn't happen," he said. "People don't make a big deal about preventing bad things from happening, but it didn't happen and that was important for the students who go there."

Both men agreed that raising taxes was not the answer to the state's fiscal condition, with Rutigliano calling for repeal of the retroactive tax hikes passed in the last legislative session.

"We have the location, we have the talent pool," he said. "We have everything desirable for a business to move or expand here, the only problem is we're too expensive."

Christiano didn't go as far as calling for tax reductions, but said he would not have voted for Malloy's budget last year. He also said the legislature needed more business owners, people who interact with the community on a daily basis and see the effect of legislation.

"It was a mistake to increase taxes on individuals and small businesses, that's just common sense," he said. "But it's not common sense to people who don't understand how it affects others."

Editor's note — Due to the hurricane, the Trumbull Times was not able to contact Bevilacqua for a final interview. His comments are pulled from a written policy platform.