'I did it in Trumbull, I'll do it in Hartford'

First Selectman Tim Herbst officially announced what had long been rumored Thursday — He is running for governor of Connecticut.

Herbst, introduced by his former Trumbull High football teammate Matt Manzione, made the announcement at Trumbull High to about 150 supporters. Full text of his comments follow. Full story coming.

Matt, thank you so much for being here today and for your kind words.  We have been friends for almost thirty years and it’s great to have my Captain here today.

It is great to be home here at Trumbull High School surrounded by friends, family, supporters, old classmates, mentors, community leaders and people from all across our state.

It was exactly 19 years ago today that I graduated from this amazing school.

All these years later, I am humbled and filled with emotion as I think of the people here who were instrumental in helping to shape my life.  They instilled within me a deep love and appreciation for Trumbull 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.

As I stand before   the Robert E. McCarthy Auditorium, 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 these walls go on to succeed outside of them.

I also think about the man that Matt and I played 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.

My time at Trumbull High School taught me to love and fight for my community.  These values 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 me, 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.

As storm clouds have manifested into perpetual fiscal crisis, well-connected special interests in Hartford have fought time and again to protect their own interests and the status quo.

As a result of these failed insiders, Connecticut, sadly, has experienced one of the worst recoveries of any state in the nation from the Great Recession.

Under the tutelage of Gov. Malloy and his 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.

While Connecticut’s neighbors all experienced significant job growth in 2016, our state ended the year with 200 fewer jobs than the year before.

There can be no clearer measure of the terrible damage wrought by insiders in Hartford on struggling Connecticut families than this backwards slide on job creation.

And things are continuing to get worse.

This year, faced with yet another colossal fiscal crisis of their own making, insiders in Hartford have proposed crippling cuts to education and local aid, tolls on Connecticut roads and new taxes on struggling taxpayers, hospitals and businesses.

Some legislators are opening the flood gates to recreational drug use as a crutch to balance the budget -- even as our state is gripped by an opioid epidemic.

In a desperate bid to protect themselves politically, Hartford lawmakers voted to raid what little is left of the state’s rainy day fund — designed to protect Connecticut in times of crisis.

This job-crushing, tax-hiking agenda led all three major credit agencies to recently downgrade Connecticut and has encouraged insurance-giant Aetna to follow in the footsteps of GE and leave our state, threatening thousands of jobs.

At the same time their feckless leadership continues to erode the quality of life and future opportunities for Connecticut residents, many of these legislators are unwilling to depart from business as usual.

State legislators can count their mileage reimbursement as income to pad their taxpayer funded pensions. This get-paid-to-show-up scheme is indicative of everything that is wrong with the culture under the Gold Dome in Hartford.

We recently learned that health care benefits for retired state legislators and statewide elected officials may be so generous, that many of our retired members of the U.S. Congress elect to keep their state benefits - - at a time when our state has a 19 billion dollar unfunded healthcare liability.

Struggling Connecticut taxpayers, towns and now hospitals will be asked, yet again, to sacrifice more, yet the power brokers at the capitol remain unwilling to cede even the most excessive of perks.  As Connecticut residents struggle with high taxes, stagnant wages and job loss, it is shameful that the very people we have entrusted to make financial decisions on behalf of our state are amongst the most chronic abusers of a dysfunctional system.

There should be no rock that goes unturned and no perk for the well-connected that goes unexposed as a ripe opportunity for reform.

That is what I did eight years ago when I took office in Trumbull.

Taxes increased 54% 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 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. Our pension system is now fully funded on an annual basis.  There are less town employees than when I took office eight years ago.  We balanced eight budgets and cut taxes twice. Our town government runs more efficiently, delivering better services than ever before. Our credit rating has been upgraded as a result of the reforms we have pursued and it has inspired business confidence and investment, with our economy growing each of the last eight years.

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, I’m about the bottom line and I’m not afraid to ruffle feathers.

I care deeply about my community and my state and I don't mince words when it comes to fighting for a better future for the next generation.

Now is not the time for political gamesmanship or gimmicks. The people of our state deserve honest, straight forward leadership and need experienced reformers who are willing to make the tough calls to enact real change.  As the son of a coach, I have grown up knowing that you don’t move the chains down the field by sitting on the sidelines.  To make a difference, you get in the game.

And so today, with a tremendous sense of purpose and a resolute commitment to get our state back on track, I proudly declare that I will be a candidate for Governor of the State of Connecticut.

The next Governor will be the 89th Governor of the State of Connecticut.  The number 89 has special meaning to me and to the people of Trumbull.  Trumbull relishes being the underdog.

In 1989, a group of 12 year olds defied the odds to win a little league world championship that brought tremendous pride to our nation.  It is part of what makes Trumbull such a special place.  That team defied the odds because they dared to dream and fought hard.

Like them, I promise to fight with every bone in my body every single day for the hard-working Connecticut families that deserve a better future.  Let us dare to dream that the reality of Connecticut may live up to the promise of Connecticut.

That dream will not become a reality if we send the same people back to Hartford to sit in different chairs.

The people of Connecticut must look to proven reformers and Hartford outsiders if we are going to fix Connecticut.

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.

That’s why today I pledge that when I’m elected Governor,

  • I will refuse a state pension

  • I will 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 the free healthcare some of them get when they retire.

  • And I will refuse donations from Hartford lobbyists.

Only by changing the corrupt culture in Hartford can we implement the kind of fundamental reform our state so desperately needs. That is why I will call on every candidate, in both parties, who seeks this office to agree to this lead-by-example pledge.

This pledge will give voters a clear choice between the candidates truly committed to them and reform and those that are out to advance their own interests and preserve the status quo in Hartford.

Starting Day 1, it is time to clean house.

It is time to clean out all the privileges and perks.

It is time to clean out the sense of entitlement and the big egos.

It is time to take on the corrupt culture under the Gold Dome.

It is time to put an end to all the partisan dithering and take the Hartford insiders to the woodshed.

Its time to take our challenges head on.


If we want different results from Hartford, we must send a different type of leader to Hartford: a proven reformer and Hartfod outsider unafraid to take on the corrupt culture under the Golden Dome in Hartford and prepared to tackle our state’s many challenges, head on.

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 Hartford insiders and crooked special interests won’t like me very much and I will wear that distinction with a badge of honor.

The solutions to our state's crises are there what is missing is leadership, courage and an outsider perspective.

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.

May God bless you all and thank you.