Kiner's Korner: An Interview With Kathy Tallarita and David Alexander

Bill Kiner chats with the two Democratic candidates for the 58th Assembly District.

As this column is being written, an appeal is being made to overturn the Enfield Democratic Town Committee election of David Alexander to be the endorsed candidate for the 58th Assembly District. The by the Committee gave Alexander a one vote margin of victory over Rep. Kathleen Tallarita to become the endorsed candidate. The contention by Tallarita is that the proxies used by the Alexander campaign, which insured his victory, were illegal because party rules do not allow for such proxy votes. The Democratic State Central Committee will decide within a very short time if such proxies are legal. If they are legal, then Alexander will remain the endorsed candidate. If State Central decides otherwise, then Tallarita will become the endorsed candidate. Stay tuned.

While all this is taking place, Kathy and Dave agreed to sit down with Enfield Patch and answer questions about themselves and about the upcoming primary between the two individuals.

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Q: Good afternoon Kathy and Dave. Thank you for sitting down with Patch and answering our questions. Dave and Kathy, let's begin by giving the readers a little personal information about the both of you. I think that sometimes voters need to see the personal side of the candidates that they will be voting for. And since both of you have well known and respected families, can you tell us what have you learned from them?

Dave Alexander: I was born in Middletown, Connecticut and raised in Enfield, Connecticut. I graduated from Enfield High School and then received a B.A. in Political Science with honors from Trinity College and a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law. I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in late 2007. I then became the Squadron Adjutant for Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, on Okinawa, Japan from 2008-2010. Afterwards I became the Battalion Adjutant for 1st Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California from 2010-2011. After leaving active duty I was a law clerk at Susman, Duffy and Segaloff P.C. in New Haven, Connecticut during the fall of 2011. I currently am a substitute teacher with the Enfield Public School System and a Captain in the Marine Corps Reserve and Adjutant for 1st Battalion, 25th Marines in Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

My family taught me the values of hard work and public service. My father Jim Alexander and his father both had Marine Corps careers which encouraged me to continue a family tradition of military service. My mother Lynn Conley Alexander, who works at and , instilled in me a sense of local service. My grandparents Pat and Blanche Conley taught me to be proud of Enfield while also being humble advocates for those in need within our community.

I like running through Thompsonville to stay in shape. I also drove cross country last August when I left active duty from the Marine Corps, and this experience helped me to appreciate the beauty and diversity of our nation. Along the way I stopped at the Reagan, Nixon, Truman and Eisenhower Presidential Libraries, the Brown v. Board of Ed National Museum, the Dred Scott Historic Court House, Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home, President Taft’s House and the Flight 93 National Memorial. It was a busy and enjoyable trip.

Kathy Tallarita: I was born and raised in Thompsonville, as was my father Pat.  My parents built their home on Fairview Avenue, next door to my grandparents a year after they were married and today still reside in that house. In 2010 I sold my house on Spier Avenue and moved into my parents’ home.  Currently my fiancé, Michael and I are hoping to purchase that home beginning our new life together and growing our roots here in Enfield.

I attended St. Joseph Grammar School in Enfield and graduated from in 1983. I attended Manchester Community College immediately after high school, but after years of work in various jobs I went back to school, took some courses at and then attended Central Connecticut State University where I obtained my Bachelors of Science in Political Science, Public Administration in December 2005.

I have had a job ever since the age of 12 when I spent summers and weekends babysitting.  After attending Community College for a year, I decided to go to work full time.  I held my first job at Chorches Chrysler/Plymouth in Windsor Locks.  I had various jobs in different industries for a few years but then began working as a session employee for then Representative Bill Kiner and Senator John Atkin as Secretary to the Government Administration and Elections Committee in Hartford, which is where my love affair with our government process began.  I then worked my way into a full time position as a Legislative Assistant for numerous legislators from all parts of Connecticut.  In 1997, Representative Fred Gelsi decided to retire and asked me if I would consider a run for his seat in the 58th District.  I was serving on the Town Council at the time and decided to make the run.  I ran against a long term district councilman, and handily defeated him and have gone on to do the same for seven times now.  As you know, being a State Legislator is a part time position with full time hours (smile).   I also am employed in Business Development with a wonderful local Enfield community bank, .

I have learned everything from my family!  I am the daughter of two wonderful, loving, caring parents who both worked.  Dad a United States Army Veteran, built helicopters for the United States Navy at Kaman Aero Space, and Mom was our director here in Enfield for over 27 years.  They worked hard every day to provide my brothers and me with a beautiful home, food on our table, clean clothes and a good education.  We were just a regular family in Enfield.  I remember my parents struggling when Dad was laid off and that is why I fight hard everyday in my job as Enfield’s State Representative to give every single citizen in Enfield and Connecticut the same opportunities that I have….A good home, a good education, food on your table, access to affordable healthcare and a an honest days pay for a days work. 

I am a member of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Women’s Auxiliary, Asnuntuck Community College Annual Murder Mystery Scholarship Dinner Committee, Enfield KITE (Key Initiatives through Education) and volunteer’s time with many charities and organizations. I love to travel, go to the beach, clean, strange I know, some people like gardening to relax, I enjoy cleaning! I like to read, most of my time is spent reading legislation, but if the opportunity arises I enjoy a good mystery novel or short story.  I enjoy movies, especially sappy love stories with happy endings; my all time favorite movie is American President and a close runner up would be Fiddler on the Roof.  I have a cat, Mondovi.  I found him wandering the streets about 12 years ago, he’s my little boy.  And these days when not working I am planning my wedding, it took me 47 years to find him, but he was worth the wait.  We will be married this coming September 2nd.

Q: Thank you Dave and Kathy. Most voters will tell you that what is most uppermost in importance for them are the economy (jobs), taxes, and education. Do you agree with this assessment, and what needs to be done in these areas? Kathy, let's start with you.

KT: Yes, this is a critical time for Connecticut.  Unemployment and foreclosure face many of our families and businesses are struggling. There were important and tough decisions made to address the budget shortfall in excess of $3 billion.   But last year I took a strong stand and stood up to party leaders and voted against the budget because it contained the largest tax increases since the inception of the state income tax.  It raised the income tax retro active, increased the sales tax and eliminated the sales tax exemptions on items such as clothing, footwear and non-prescription drugs, compounding the burden on families already imposed by the economy.    This year, I supported a $20.5 billion fiscal year 2013 budget adjustment bill that keeps appropriations under the state’s constitutionally-mandated spending cap, raised no additional taxes and continues our investments in education and job growth. Despite cuts in many areas, funding for cities and towns as well as for vital services were protected.

I am proud to have led the fight for more jobs in our state – and in particular the region with the successful passage of a jobs bill this past October. Most importantly, I worked tirelessly with Democratic leadership to ensure that important dollars to support job growth initiatives made their way to Enfield with a $12 million commitment for manufacturing expansion at Asnuntuck Community College. One of the hallmarks of the 2012 legislative session is our commitment to education – including more funding for Education Cost Sharing Grant, school-based health centers and family resource centers. In addition, we acknowledge the critical importance of early childhood education, by underwriting 1,000 school readiness slots for preschoolers and funding several initiatives to improve early reading success. My work in Hartford is not done. We have many issues that we are facing this year, and that work will continue to need a strong voice in Hartford, making sure that Enfield is not left unheard.  As a member of the leadership team I am that voice.

DA: I completely agree that the economy, taxes and education are the most important issues to voters. In terms of job creation, I propose a state-wide job match program similar to numerous proposals at the Federal level. Due to  the military downsizing I specifically would like to create opportunities to help returning veterans apply the skills they learned in the military to the civilian employment sector. The General Assembly must also work to lower the property tax burden while also considering and promoting economic fairness in their taxation decisions. Finally, we need to increase accountability within our school system but not at the expense of discouraging teacher collaboration which is the centerpiece of public education

Q: As you speak with local residents, are they mentioning anything else that is of concern to them?  Dave?

DA: As I door knock during the evenings and on weekends many residents are frustrated with the sense of complacency of government, especially within the General Assembly. The voters I talk to are excited about the possibility of a light rail station within Thompsonville as part of the Governor’s light rail proposal. They feel that more grant money can go a long way to improving infrastructure within the 58th District, and they feel that perhaps fresh, new energy might be needed to get these things done.

KT: As I speak to the community I hear everyday their concerns about Education and the direction our town is moving.  I have fought to protect funding for public education and municipal aid. I am proud to have been a part of a leadership group that has brought some of the most significant investments in education to Connecticut towns in decades. Business leaders need a well-educated and skilled workforce to succeed and grow in our state. This strong commitment for education has laid the groundwork for success and I am honored to have been a part of it. I have been fighter for seniors, veterans, police, firefighters, teachers, women and children. I will continue to listen, lead and deliver results to the people of the 58th district.

Q: One last question for the both of you. Dave, how do you believe that your training in the U.S. Marine Corps would make you a better state Representative?

DA: Being an Officer in the United States Marine Corps requires an individual to learn and apply managerial and leadership skills quickly. Due to the enlisted to officer ratio being significantly higher in the Marine Corps compared to any other branch of service we were taught to be bold, lead decisively and follow a 70 percent solution when managing our Marines. We therefore learned to be comfortable when facing uncomfortable obstacles in order to get the job done. Whether managing a multi-million dollar reconnaissance-based school pipeline program or providing complete administrative accountability at three sites during live fire training in rural Thailand, I learned to make decisions under pressure and take care of my Marines. I feel this will make for a unique, resourceful and passionate advocate for the people of the 58th District.

Q: Kathy, how does your position as Deputy Majority Leader make you a better state Representative?

KT: Yes!  My role as a Deputy Majority Leader and member of the House Democrat’s Leadership Screening Committee – the entity which reviews and approves all legislation which comes before the House of Representatives – are key leadership positions which offer the opportunity to shape strong policy and move our state forward. This role is earned, through many years of hard work, respect and trust of my colleagues and leaders.  My role as Deputy Majority Leader gives me a seat at the leadership table, and allows me to be the voice of Enfield’s residents at that table making sure their concerns are heard.

Olive3 June 07, 2012 at 11:55 AM
My vote is for David. New, fresh. Let's shake up the status que. Thanks for this interview Bill.
Spiff June 07, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Regardless of whom the democrats choose, Tom Sirard is still better positioned to help lower taxes and boost the state's economy, something which we need desperately!
Mark Levin June 09, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Vote for Dave. Send the establishment of CT a message that the status quo is unacceptable.
Korey August 08, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I went to school with Dave and sorry to say he will not get my vote. He is a perfect example of what you don't want in government. If you really want to change CT for the better don't send them another "politics as usual" candidate.
Mark Levin August 10, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Korey- compared to the status quo? Dave will bring the energy that the role certainly needs while keeping the 58th best interests at heart. What are you looking for in gov't? More of the same? Vote for Dave, it's time for change.


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