A local businessman and former chair of the Windham Board of Finance who now seeks a seat in the state House of Representatives promises to bring common sense and fiscal sense to Connecticut.
Republican John French, 54, of Willimantic, is running against Democratic incumbent State Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Willimantic, who won the seat in the November 2008 election.
He seeks the 49th House District seat, which represents all of Windham/Willimantic.
“We need to turn this state around,” French said. “We need to make it business friendly.”
As a small business owner who operates Willimantic Interior Design on Church Street, French said his other priorities, if elected, include addressing the state budget deficit, creating jobs and addressing the state’s high electricity rates.
He said Connecticut needs to balance a budget that currently is “totally out of control,” noting the projected $3.5 billion budget deficit.
French recommended a freeze on bonding and said he wants to look at the administrative hierarchy in state government and also look at what programs could be cut.
He also recommended a budget freeze or even a 5 percent rollback. “That would be a good start,” he said.
French said he wants to make the state more competitive and take jobs from other states, while claiming his opponent — Johnson — simply wants to increase taxes.
He said by drawing people into the state and creating jobs, it will bring more taxpayers into Connecticut, who will also use their earnings to purchase items from local businesses.
“They work from the wrong side of the coin here,” he said of his opponents.
He also touted his progress on local projects.
French said while he was chair of the board of finance from 1990-98, the town’s mill rate stayed relatively flat.
“I balanced budgets,” he said, adding he kept the town’s taxes down.
French noted his other contributions include winning the first teacher contract arbitration case in the state and three others while chair of the board of finance.
He said he also worked to reclaim funds owed to the town from the now defunct Windham energy and recycling facility (WERF)
He said other contributions included finding and negotiating the Windham Middle School site location and he also worked to prevent the Windham Textile & History Museum from closing. French said he negotiated for the town to purchase the building, which kept it open.
He also worked toward getting approximately $55,000 for firefighter radios back in the 1990s, after a firefighter found himself in a basement and the radios were not working.
“I always pushed the envelope,” he said.
French also touched on the election beyond Windham, with the governor’s seat and other legislative seats up for grabs.
“If they get the trifecta, this state is in real trouble,” French said about Democrats winning the gubernatorial election and holding onto their veto-proof majorities in the state House and Senate.
French said another reason he is running is for his six grandchildren, in hopes they will be able to have the same quality of life and opportunities he did.
One local issue French touched on was the $40 million Windham Interdistrict Magnet School.
French said he wouldn’t stop the school, but would look to restructure it to make it a regional school.
He said restructuring the project would not delay it, but the town would benefit if four or five other towns were tied in financially instead of just Windham.
“We need to regionalize,” he said.
Posted Nov. 1, 2010