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Norm Needleman, the Democratic candidate for the District 33 State Senate seat, says his experience as Essex first selectman and as the founder and CEO of Centerbrook-based Tower Laboratories will help him be an effective state senator.
District 33 represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Deep River, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and northern Old Saybrook.
Needleman said that his business, which develops and manufactures effervescent products, is “a vital part of the local economy” that employs more than 220 people in Centerbrook and Clinton, and in Montague, Michigan.
“I understand how to balance a budget and create jobs,” Needleman said.
Needleman said he was motivated to get involved in government on the as a way to give back to the community. Noting that much of his family still lives in the area, he said, “I’m working for their future.”
Needleman’s opponent, State Representative Melissa Ziobron (R-34), has pointed out that if elected, Needleman would need to juggle business and first selectman responsibilities along with his State Senate obligations, to which Needleman responded, “I’m a born multitasker. I’m capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time.”
Needleman said his record of accessibility as a first selectman while balancing his business practices demonstrates his ability to manage several projects at once. Needleman believes his broad experience is actually a good thing for the legislature.
Another area in which Ziobron and Needleman differ is the proposal to raise the minimum wage. Ziobron is against the idea, while Needleman said he would like to pursue it.
“The minimum wage should have been adjusted going back 30 years. My business exceeds the minimum wage,” Needleman said.
Needleman said that he would not institute the change abruptly, and said he would help business become more efficient and competitive to help facilitate the change.
“I don’t think we should go to $15 an hour tomorrow, but over a period of time,” he said. “Abrupt change is never good.”
Needleman said that with lower wages come an increased demand from people relying on state services, shifting the costs from the low-paying business to the taxpayers at large.
When it comes to the state budget, Needleman said that he has experience with what he called “real world budgets” and said as both a businessman and selectman he had found ways to make budgets more efficient while increasing the quality of services.
“I want to make sure the budget is fair and conservatively managed,” Needleman said.
Needleman acknowledged that some cuts to the budget will have to be made, but declined to identify specific areas where the cuts would come from. Needleman said instead, he would review the governor’s proposed budget and assess what areas could be cut.
“We’d look across the board,” Needleman said.
Needleman said improving transportation in Connecticut will be critical, and called for increased service linking cities together. In addition to fixing existing roads and bridges, he would like to expand mass transportation along the I-91 corridor.
“We need to build infrastructure up the middle of the state to cities to attract young people,” Needleman said.
For more information on Norm Needleman’s campaign, visit www.normforsenate.com.
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