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Meet the Candidate: Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes. Submitted photo

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running for election on Nov. 7, 2017.

Compiled by Ronni Newton

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to “Meet the Candidate” – designed to help them get to know the candidates running for office in West Hartford’s Nov. 7, 2017, municipal election.

Identical questionnaires have been sent to all major party candidates, and each profile received has been submitted directly to We-Ha.com by the candidate or the candidate’s campaign management. The responses have not been edited but have been formatted to match our publication style. Questions left blank have been deleted.

As profiles are received, they will be published on We-Ha.com under the “Government” tab. We-Ha.com is not making endorsements of any political candidates but we are publishing this information in order to assist West Hartford voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Nov. 7.

If you are a candidate and wish to submit a profile, please return it by email to Ronni Newton at [email protected] as soon as possible.

Name: Chris Barnes

Age: 48

Party, Position Seeking: Republican seeking re-election to the Town Council.

Family Information: Married to Stephanie and we have three daughters – Emma, Clara, and MaryCharlotte.

Occupation: Attorney with UnitedHealthcare.

Political Experience: Elected in 2013 to the Town Council, and re-elected in 2015. I have served on all of the Council’s subcommittees, including Finance and Budget, Public Safety, Administration & Technology, Human Services, and Community Planning and Physical Services. I ran unsuccessfully for the State House of Representatives for the 19th District in 2016.

Other relevant experience: Previously a member of the West Hartford Risk Management Advisory Board.

Why are you running for office? I am seeking re-election to the Town Council because I really enjoy the work and representing all of the people of West Hartford. I am also concerned about the town’s financial future. Our town government needs to learn how to contain and cut spending, properly fund the town’s long-term financial obligations, reduce our reliance on bonded debt, and stop passing through large property tax increases year after year.

What issues(s) are your primary areas of focus? Fiscal issues. Our town is unaffordable for many, and it is only getting worse. We need a majority of the Town Council to create a long-term financial plan to protect the things that are important to our town residents.

Several topics are likely on the minds of West Hartford voters this year. Please provide a brief statement regarding your opinion about:

  • The Town of West Hartford Budget: As a result of the property revaluation and higher mill rate, residential and commercial property owners saw a dramatic increase in their property taxes, some as high as almost 40%. I have been on the Council for four years and have voted “No” on each annual budget. The town needs to stop passing “maintenance” budgets with no new services or programs for town residents, and substantial spending increases to cover employee salaries, healthcare, and pension contributions, and debt service. This is where we need change.
  • The State of Connecticut budget situation: The biggest issue facing West Hartford is financial – at the state and local level. The state has been in fiscal decline for years and regularly threatens to cut or eliminate state aid to West Hartford. We can no longer run our town based on the expectation of state aid. It is simply not reasonable or prudent. While the state is close to having a budget for the next two years which provides state aid to West Hartford, the State’s long-term financial outlook is bleak. The town needs to protect itself going forward.
  • Regionalism: I will consider any regionalization ideas that are in the best interest of West Hartford – that is, it saves the town money, creates efficiencies, and does not create new levels of government bureaucracy.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today? West Hartford is a great place to live and raise a family, but if we want to maintain our schools, public service, and overall quality of life we can not ignore the town’s unsustainable budget, tax, and debt trajectory. The majority party consistently passes higher budgets with ever-increasing property taxes. This must change. We need to work together to restructure and right-size our town government to get our budget under control for the benefit of everyone in our community. We need strong leadership and long-term financial discipline to lead our town forward and protect the things we all enjoy.

What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? As an attorney, I am called upon to review and negotiate contracts, communicate effectively, advocate for my clients, and work to solve their problems. I believe I have put those skills to work during my four years on the Town Council. The Town Council is the forum for resident issues, concerns, and viewpoints, and, to be most effective, we need a balance of representation and viewpoints on the Council. As demonstrated during my tenure, I am also not afraid to take a strong position on important issues. Whether it is taking on the MDC, an international for-profit school looking to buy seats in our public high schools, the State government, or our own town officials, I always put the best interest of West Hartford and its residents first. I hope the voters give me the opportunity to serve a third term.

Anything else you would like to share? If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach me by phone at (860) 798-5207 or by email at [email protected]. Thanks to We-Ha.com for providing this public service. Please vote on Tuesday, November 7th.

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