Deecken — One big community

In his political career, Richard Deecken said he has won some elections, and lost others.

“And winning is definitely better,” he said.

Deecken, a Republican first elected to the Trumbull Planning & Zoning Commission in 2009, is challenging incumbent Democrat Marilyn Moore for the state Senate’s 22nd District, which includes all of Trumbull and parts of Bridgeport and Monroe. The district has historically been one of the most competitive in the state but in the last decade has leaned more Democratic.

But Deecken remains optimistic he can win against the two-term incumbent. He said his job teaching and coaching at Bassick High School has provided a natural point of commonality with city voters, who traditionally vote Democratic.

“It’s a false dichotomy to me that the district is Bridgeport versus the suburbs,” Deecken said. “When I talk about my platform, education resonates across the district. Whether it’s an urban school like Bassick or Trumbull High, where the college rate is a lot higher, voters are receptive to a message about education and the way it can drive job creation and self-sufficiency.”

Deecken has said that getting state high schools to graduate students who are ready for careers or college is key to the state’s economic future.

“Whether a student wants to go to college, or thinks that college isn’t for them, qualified, trained students attract businesses to the area,” he said. “I have friends that work at Sikorsky, who don’t have college degrees, and they are out-earning me. Plus, some of them now are looking into going to college now to further their education.”

If Deecken has run on a pro-education platform, his position on a proposal to install tolls on state highways is equally clear.

“I am absolutely against tolls,” he said. “I see them as a regressive tax added to the astronomical taxes we’re already paying.”

To generate revenue to maintain the state’s infrastructure, Deecken said he would prefer the state rely more on the gas tax, which he said was more efficient and would not require millions of dollars worth of new equipment to collect.

“A gas tax is something that people pay equally based on how much they drive, and the means of collecting it is already in place: Gas stations,” he said. “Plus, it incentivizes people to buy fuel- efficient cars.”

Speaking of state revenue, Deecken said he would take a wait-and-see approach to the proposal by GOP governor candidate Bob Stefanowski to eliminate the state income tax.

“Bob is going to have to explain where the revenue or spending cuts are going to come from,” he said. “Then it’s going to be up to the legislature to make that choice. I’ll judge the plan on its merits, but one of the things he’ll have to do is explain how he’ll make up that gap.”

Of course, supporting or opposing Stefanowksi’s plan in the Senate depends on actually winning the seat, something Deecken said was well within reach.

“I wouldn’t be in this campaign if I didn’t think I had a good chance of winning,” he said. “A candidate like myself with a strong investment in all parts of the district really can bring this community together.”