GREENWICH, Conn. – The Daily Voice sent five questions to each of the candidates running for state office this fall. The following responses are from Stephen Walko, a Republican challenger running for the state representative seat in the 150th District, which includes the Greenwich coast.
Lile R. Gibbons, the 150th district’s current representative, is retiring.
Walko, 42, is an attorney and an arbitrator on the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration who has lived in Greenwich his entire life. He lives with his wife, Alexandra, and two children, Nicole, 10, and Christopher, 9.
Walko has held elected positions as chairman of the Board of Estimate and Taxation and as the District Four Representative Town Meeting vice chairman. He was also the president of the St. Paul Lutheran Church and director of the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center.
Walko is running against the Democratic candidate, Stephanie Paulmeno.
1) What are the biggest issues facing your district?
The biggest issue facing the 150th District is the same issue that concerns the citizens of many Connecticut towns; we must revitalize Connecticut and rid ourselves of our over-dependency on you, the taxpayer. Three areas will be my priority in representing you in Hartford: fiscal cleansing, education reform and transportation enhancements.
2) Since you are running for an open seat, what would you do differently than the previous office-holder?
Representative Lile Gibbons served the 150th District with excellence and distinction. During her 12 years as our state representative, Lile worked tirelessly to address all of our concerns and to vote for legislation that was important to us. I will do the same.
With my background as an arbitrator, attorney, and past Chairman of the BET, I will work to bring fiscal stability to Hartford through working with state employees to lower the cost of government and fund the burgeoning unfunded liability of the state’s pension fund and external debt accounts. Like Lile, I will gladly respond to constituent requests and vote to keep taxes down.
3) Is Connecticut going in the right or wrong direction?
Fiscally, Connecticut is on the wrong trajectory. The taxpayers of this state and in particular Greenwich have already been dealt the largest tax increase in the history of the state. It is time to address the other side of the equation, spending. The reduction of spending is critical to the long term fiscal integrity of the state and with my background and demonstrated experience we can begin to change the way Hartford addresses its fiscal obesity. Connecticut is underfunded by a whopping $49,000 per taxpayer. To appreciate the enormity of this number, no other state has a taxpayer burden of $40,000 or more. This type of tax and spend decision making must come to a stop.
4) What would you do to involve your constituents in your decision-making process?
Constituent service is a critical component of the position of state representative. Understanding the needs of the citizens within the 150th District is essential to ensuring that they are truly represented in Hartford.
Not only would I call upon individuals and neighborhood associations for their opinions but I would encourage focus groups to meet and relay their views on the topics that impact them. As I did as chairman of the BET, I would regularly communicate with various groups and individuals to ensure that my decisions were fully informed and in the best interest of the greater good. I will continue such a practice as state representative.
5) Why should people vote for you?
I am running for state representative because I hope to bring this type of result oriented government that we work so hard for in Greenwich to Hartford. Simply, I want to bring more Greenwich to Hartford and not let Hartford impose itself on Greenwich. Connecticut is a great state and we cannot allow the failed fiscal policies of yesterday and today impede the hope and vision of a better tomorrow.