Republican American: Connecticut’s grim state of affairs leads Horn to enter 64th House District race
BY RUTH EPSTEIN Republican-American
SALISBURY – Connecticut’s grim state of affairs is what prompted Maria Horn to challenge state Rep. Brian M. Ohler, R-Canaan, for the 64th District House seat in the Nov. 6 election, she said.
“My work in nonprofits, in which I was goal-oriented, can help a state government that is in urgent need,” Horn said. “I can do better to help make people aware of what’s going on. I see the Northwest Corner being left behind.”
This is Horn’s first foray into politics, though she’s had a lifetime of interest in it. In her past career as an attorney and federal prosecutor, she worked pro bono on several issues, and did clinical defense work in the area of women’s rights while in college.
“As a federal prosecutor, I wanted to make a difference,” Horn said. “A lot of the skills honed there will serve me well as a representative. I can find out what the truth is and who is in charge. I could follow the money and go after people causing the problems. I can succeed by reasoned argument, not by name calling or throwing rocks. You can convince when you have the facts.”
She said she has learned that a lot needs doing.
“That will be my job. The legislature is part-time, but it has full-time problems,” she said. “I’ll have a different approach to advocacy than Brian. I’ll address issues and problems systemically, and quietly fix them in a transparent and open way.”
Horn believes one of the top issues is the economy. She said providing jobs equates to education and the challenge of bringing young families to the area.
Reflecting on the declining school enrollment, she said, “We have to fund elementary schools and we need to be creative in how we do that. Our school populations are smaller than what they were built for. Funding can be polarizing, but we all want a good education for the kids.”
She strongly supports community colleges, believing a connection must be made between opportunities offered and the students here so they understand where they are going.
SPEAKING ON HEALTH CARE, Horn favors the state allowing people to buy into Medicaid, which would be cost-effective.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “We’re punishing people for getting off it.”
She said when the legislature considered such a proposal, Ohler voted against it.
A strong opponent of guns in schools, Horn said she is proud of Connecticut’s strong gun laws and its low rate of gun deaths. She said she is aware of the divide between members of the NRA and its leadership.
“I’d never be endorsed by the NRA, and I have gone to student-led marches promoting gun laws and I’m proud of it,” she said.
As for the electoral process, she is pleased with the public funding that results in candidates having to spend only a short time raising money.
“That was tremendously positive,” Horn said. “I spent two weeks campaigning for money and didn’t have to spend time seeking big checks. It eliminates dark money from campaigns.”
Sharon Hospital, which made news this past summer when it announced a future closing of its maternity unit, needs a partner because it can’t go it alone, Horn said. Rather than taking an adversarial stance with the hospital’s representatives, a positive approach should be followed, she said.
“You can’t fry them in public and expect them to work with you,” Horn said.
She said the data is clear that businesses in states that raise the minimum wage do better. She also spoke of the need for improved physical and digital infrastructure that would bring more people to the state. Horn noted their current levels are driving the economy down and are often unsafe.
“The question is how to fund it,” she added.
HORN THINKS TOLLS NEED to be given a hard look, noting they would be better than a gas tax.
“Even if there are none in the Northwest Corner, they will help us,” she said. “If there is a dedicated income stream that has to be spent there, it frees up money that can be better spent.”
But she frowns when noting that lawmakers are talking about a $10 million study.
“Dust one off from before or look at what other states did,” she suggested.
Technical connectivity is something Horn thinks is very important for the Northwest Corner. She said it’s a big undertaking and not to be approached unrealistically. She believes the top feet of telephone poles should be used for municipal gains, which communication companies have rejected.
“The legislature can overrule that,” she said.
Horn vowed to be a strong advocate for issues pertaining to safeguarding the environment, which is an economic asset serving as an underpinning for farms, businesses and tourism, Horn said.
She added she is pleased the campaign has been primarily a positive one.
“Both of us care about our community,” Horn said. “It matters who sits in the seat because of different policy choices. I think my financial experience helps. We have tough problems and we need to collaborate, compromise and listen to people who may have different perspectives from our own.”