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Citing his experience as a business owner and his commitment to help the shoreline community in which he grew up, Adam Greenberg says he has the knowledge and passion to help the region and the state grow and thrive as District 12’s next state senator.
Greenberg will face off against Democrat Christine Cohen at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in what is likely to be an exciting race after current District 12 State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D) announced early this year that he would not seek re-election.
Greenberg grew up in Guilford and went through the Guilford Public School system. He was a former major league baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, but was struck in the head by a 92 mile per hour fastball his first time up to bat, leading to an early end to his career. Greenberg went on to found Lurong Living, a nationwide health and wellness company in 2010. He also works as a motivational speaker.
Now settled in Branford with his wife and two kids, Greenberg said he looks around the shoreline and sees a very different place than where he grew up due to people leaving the state and the changed economic climate. Greenberg said he wants to be a voice for residents up in Hartford to help bring about positive change in the region.
“I had a tremendous experience growing up here in the 12th District and now living in Branford and raising my family here I see a totally different Connecticut and 12th District than what I grew up in,” he said. “…It’s time for me to go up to Hartford and really be able to have a positive impact for the people in the 12th District and the state.”
While out knocking on doors, Greenberg said he has been talking to residents about everything from taxes to tolls to teachers. He said his hope is to take his business experience up to Hartford, but also his ability to work with all legislators on important issues.
“I do motivational speaking,” he said. “I don’t walk into a room and figure out who’s in what party to figure out how to motivate and inspire and unify. So much of my message is about bringing people together and what I love doing is going and listening to all sides of every issue. It’s not about just having to be right, it’s about doing what is right and in order to do that, you have to be ready and willing to listen to everyone.”
As a business owner, Greenberg said he understands the struggles so many business owners in the state face when fees and regulations hinder growth. If elected, he said he wants to see certain obligations lifted off of small businesses so that they have a chance to thrive.
“I understand when you take the burden off of a business owner, they’re able to push the envelope, come up with new products, and expand and hire more people, which creates economic growth so people have more money in their pockets,” he said. “…When you can see the big picture and not impose such a burden, you can have economic development and growth...Owning my own business, I see it firsthand.”
If the state can become more business friendly, Greenberg said the state could also then retain large sections of the population that had previously moved their businesses out of state.
“We need to talk about why certain businesses have left and then what we can do to attract,” he said. “I mean we’re between Manhattan and Boston. We know our geography is there and we know we have almost everything to offer a business to physically want to be here, but the regulations and the hoops that we have to jump through to even start a business, there are just fees on top of fees. I was just talking to an individual who’s trying to be an entrepreneur and start his own business and he is six months in to the process and he’s ready to just give it up. That’s not right.”
Over the past few years, towns across the shoreline have struggled with the drop in education funding and even more so with the instability of the funding formulas the state uses to disburse education grants. Greenberg said you can pick through the details of all the various funding formulas, but at the end of the day it really just comes down to one thing.
“It’s called prioritizing,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. If we really care about our kids and we really care about their education that they are going to receive and we really care about the quality of teachers, then we have to prioritize. I know that’s a general term, but it really is just that simple. Part of the problem in Hartford I think is it everything gets too complicated or too complex and convoluted…We need to voice up in Hartford to say education needs to be prioritized. I mean, when you’re running a business, you can’t say, ‘Well you’re going to maybe have this much money, but if you go and plan on that and it’s not there, oh well.’ That doesn’t work—the business goes out of business and we’re seeing that with the education system fail our kids and fail our teachers because we don’t know how to budget properly.”
The pension systems in the state, for both state employees and teachers, have been underfunded for decades. As legislators have come to terms with the sheer size of the unfunded liability of the past few sessions, various ideas have been thrown out to try to shrink the size of the issue. Greenberg said the pensions are a big burden on the fixed cost of the overall budget and some frank and practical conversations need to start taking place.
“You can have a conversation and offer buyouts,” he said. “There is a short-term pain but a long-term gain. Some people would love to have a lump sum and others would say, ‘No, I don’t want it,’ but at least that would take off some of the burden for the future.”
Greenberg said the unions need to be brought to the table to discuss new hires. He said legislators need to honor those employees who put in decades of their lives and have worked for their pensions, but also understand that unless something changes, the stability of those earned pensions could be in danger.
“I think it was Illinois where people would go and try and use their pension card,” only to have it declined, he said. “We can’t get to that point because of the obligation we have made. We honor those obligations, but we bring back the conversation going forward to be responsible.”
Highways, bridges, and train lines are a statewide concern as roads deteriorate, bridges are getting lower safety ratings, and trains like Shore Line East have borne the brunt of significant funding cuts. Greenberg said in looking at all the issues, the first priority has to be safety.
“We talked about these things that we are facing now and it’s going to take some strong leadership up there to prioritize the funding to be spent to keep our people safe,” he said. “That precedes any potential advancement. I talk a lot about being pro-business, but once again, first and foremost it has to be about looking at the things that are critically important to fund and fix to keep our families and the community safe.”
Funding any sort of transportation repairs or improvements has been a hot-button issue in Hartford. The Special Transportation Fund (STF), which funds transportation projects, has only a few years left before the well runs dry. Tolls have been widely debated as a way to fund the STF, but Greenberg said tolls are just another tax that will burden those residents in the state who are already living paycheck to paycheck.
“I look at the daily struggle and I look at the irresponsible spending that is gone up in Hartford and the unwillingness to put a lockbox on the STF,” he said. “We’re just going to put up another tax—I’m just not going to be a part of that. It’s about getting the financials in order and finding where the waste is because we know that there is some and have zero-based budgeting and starting there before we start talking about any new taxes like tolls.”
Greenberg said he looks back on his time with the Chicago Cubs when the team, owners, and fans carried the nickname of “loveable losers.” He said there is little to no chance of growth or success with a mentality like that, and that the same for the State of Connecticut, where welcome centers are closed at the borders and some people regularly refer to the state as a “pass-through state.”
“The states around us are spending money and taking people in Connecticut out of Connecticut to go spend money,” he said. “We are not doing anything like that and I have sat with a tourism board many times and I know that they have shown the proposals and shown that when you spend $1 on tourism you get $3.75 back. That is one heck of an investment, because you are not only generating revenue, but you are creating a different culture and environment of welcoming people to Connecticut. We have so much to offer so tourism is something that I feel very passionate about being a part of.”
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