We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running in the 5th State Senate District special election on Feb. 26, 2019.
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 the 5th State Senate District special election.
Identical questionnaires have been sent to all 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 voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Feb. 26.
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: Mark Stewart Greenstein
Party, position seeking: Democrat, petitioning as an independent – CT Senate 5th District. [Editor’s note: Mark Greenstein has received the endorsement of the Amigo Constitution Liberty Party, not the Independent Party]
Family information: Raised in West Hartford. Attended King Philip Elementary, Segdwick Jr. High, and Loomis Chaffee for 9-12. Dartmouth College for Undergrad 1982-86, Univ. Of California Berkeley School of Law 1989-92. Returned from California in 2000 after 11 years of school, law practice, and running two small businesses. Lived in Farmington, New Britain, and WH since. Fully developed Ivy Bound, now based in Newington. Ivy Bound serves students who need academic tutoring and Standardized Test Preparation (SAT, ACT and APs).
Other occupation, if applicable: Connecticut Commerce – www.ConnComm.net I work every month to bring back an NHL team to Hartford. This is a non-profit “Green-Bay-Packers” style of ownership for a chunk of the team. We have a store at the Newington Arena, “Whaler Land”, and try to get shirts, hats, and sweats on as many people who’d like to see a team return to Hartford.
ConnComm also put in a proposal to Amazon in late 2017 to have the giant site its second HQ in northern CT (by Bradley Airport, to be specific). The benefits of our research, and some of this proposal itfelf are available for any other national firm that puts itself in play.
And if elected, and if with Gov. Lamont’s blessing, it just might give me the clout to call on government decisionmakers in India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore to sign contracts for Connecticut-made surface ships and submarines. Our “two-subs-a-year” work with the Pentagon is decent. Turning this to FIVE subs a year would be a real boon to Connecticut.
Political experience: None. Here and now, this is a GOOD thing. Political experience in the CT legislature typically means NOT reading bills, voting with group agendas in mind, not disciplining malfeasance, and spending other people’s money in ways they would never do at home:
NO home maker pays 11x market value for an item; but the General Assembly approved just such waste for a parcel in Orange (with a politically-connected owner).
NO home maker chooses not to read large contracts for her house; but the General Assembly members don’t know what’s in many contracts they approve.
NO home maker approves a contractor coming to her home and expecting her to pay a mileage fee when he’s not even using his vehicle; but for the General Assembly, this is a routine perk in a “scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours capitol.)
NO home maker puts her children into long-term debt; but for over 70 years, our Generally Assembly refused to pay for its future promises.
NO home maker pays laborers zero and then makes a public issue about having everyone ELSE pay a high minimum wage; but that is what members of the General Assembly do then they hire and direct unpaid interns and then command businesses to pay more than they can afford.
NO upstanding parent steals from her child’s piggy bank; but General Assembly members have stolen from funds marked to improve transportation and the environment.
It’s time we elected non-politicians. We who run households, conduct good work in private businesses, or lead charitable organizations are at least as qualified to address government problems.
Politicians address ongoing problems with spin, with obfuscation, and sometimes with outright lies. Politicians are often protected by denying FOIA requests. Business people can’t get away with that for long. Thus, the outsider is BETTER than the seasoned politician, especially in a state that for 30 years has shown us that its government does NOT work well.
Other relevant experience: My Ivy Bound experience is highly relevant to governing better. From one humble locale, our firm serves clients throughout the USA and some internationally. (www.ivybound.net). Our tutors are regarded as “lifelines” for many children, and our Staff work with parents exceptionally well. As for my Staff itself, i’m proud to say not one staffer in our 17 year existence has left Ivy Bound for another job. We are an exceptionally Mom-friendly business for staffers.
My zeal to return an NHL team to Hartford has relevance too. Every month i call on billionaires (or close) to move their appreciation of investing in Connecticut. It has not gone well yet. But with the imprimatur of “Senator Mark Stewart is calling”, and with the Rolodex from, and hopefully the blessing of, Governor Lamont, we can get a hockey team back before his first term is over. We can “Make Connecticut SKATE Again!”. (www.nhltohartford.org)
Why are you running for office? Please see www.stewartforliberty.com for the MANY reasons this legislature needs to be altered. I am one who’d like to start a cascade of citizen-legislators running for Assembly seats across the state, and thereby governing BETTER.
The campaign itself is meant to spark citizen attention. Too many voters, especially in CT, tune out from political campaigns, even though the results can be life-changing. In CT, conservatives tend to feel “little can be done” to change things. Progressives often feel they are going to be blocked by “Republicans with money”. Libertarians feel that just adding 1% to their vote totals is satisfactory. And many don’t even know whether they are conservative or progressive or libertarian. Our national dialogue of late makes issues less important than the background of the speaker.
This campaign, and future campaigns, feature a third political party. I founded it. The Americans for Minimal Government party (www.amigovote.us) is here to attract voters who are socially liberal (because the government should be less intrusive) and fiscally conservative (because it’s YOUR money, not the government’s). We believe Minimal Government appeals to at least 50% of CT voters, and at least 80% of CT’s Millennials.
But Connecticut has never had a prominent fiscally-conservative-socially-liberal candidate in our lifetimes. We are faced with the duopoly of progressive vs. conservative. And as sound bites matter more, the progressive extremes and the conservative extremes get more media attention. So “normal” voters in the middle are left with only far-left and far-right candidates.
Enter the Independent. It’s been 63 years since an Independent held a General Assembly Seat. For many reasons, that deserves to change. Independent candidates are often branded by media and the duopolistic system as having “no chance”. This candidacy posits that once media gives equal (or at least close) standing to the independent candidates, we then have more reasons to be inaugurated than the Democrats and Republicans combined.
The biggest reason: even a strong LOSS puts independents and their sentiments in play. In a closely divided Assembly vote, the Democrats and the Republicans MUST take into account the sentiment of the 10% to 49% of those who did not win, but who, standing for Minimal-Government, made a big impact.
Robust, well-covered campaigns like mine are the BEST way to turn Connecticut around. Business isn’t gonna magically come running here; families are not going to magically migrate here in droves; our debts are not going to magically evaporate unless there is WIDESPREAD SENTIMENT that We the People can truly do more. We do this by bringing issues forward frequently and forcefully. The more special elections, the better. The more legislation is covered in the news, the better. The more scrutiny of state workers’ good accomplishments and bad non-accomplishments, the better still.
My new party expects to be in every CT Senate race in 2020. We’ll field candidates for US. Congress too, in four of the five Congressional districts. We may endorse an incumbent Democrat or incumbent Republican, but they need to have shown themselves highly worthy over the prior two years. THAT itself helps voters with incumbents in previously “safe” districts” do well for them.
My new party is the most democratic (“small d”) group this state has going. Anyone age 13 or over, who lives OR WORKS in a district, has a say in our caucuses. Parents get an additional half-vote at our caucuses for every child who is their dependent. Caregivers get an extra full vote for every elder who is dependent. Once elected, we stay in touch…AMiGo party Assemblymen use polling for big issues, on the premise that if informed, ordinary citizens know BEST. We “AMiGos” trust ordinary citizens more than we trust professors, consultants, or lobbyists who likely have a professional agenda that is NOT for the people. See www.amigovote.us.
What issue(s) are your primary area of focus? Slimming state government. and Assuring the government we stick with is then run BETTER.
Several topics are likely on the minds of voters in the 5thDistrict. These are complex topics, but please provide a brief response to the following:
- What is your approach to the State of Connecticut’s budget, and the possibility of using tolls, sports betting, or legalized marijuana to increase revenue? My pieces on the budget are at www.stewartforliberty.com. Use the “On the Issues” section for videos and releases. In essence – we can cut 55% of the budget over the next three years without touching any necessary state spending. We should let private groups and individuals fund the nice-but-not-necessary stuff. Indeed, the well-run private services for needy people will be funded BETTER, with no disruptions (for state budget wrangling). Connecticut families are notstingy; they are frugal with money that will be wasted, as CT government has shown itself to do. When seven DOT crewmen are standing around watching just two who are actually working, when 6 Eversource linemen are around for a 2-person job, when state staffers play cards while on the clock, we are absolutely reluctant to give more money to the state.
Remember, when families have more money, we spend it. More tailors, more lawn care firms, more groceries, more restaurants, and more childrens; programs are the beneficiaries of families keeping more money. And families spend it more wisely (even frivolous purchases carry a “multiplier effect”) than the state is likely to. With a 55% three-year cut, we are at zero income tax. When i ran for Governor i surveyed people about their willingness to give to more charity if they had their income taxes returned. 85% of repsondents said they’d return 25% to 120% of what they saved. (That 120% means people would put 20% MORE than their rebate into a new charity.). It’s unfortunate that Bob Stefanowski’s Republican “handlers” didn’t let him make this case on the 2018 governor campaign. Even with a still-elected Ned Lamont, we might have more appreciation for why money in OUR OWN HANDS is the most charitable thing a state can do.
Neither Bob nor Ned made the very good case why wealth is GOOD. I will. Wealth, earned legally, is an indicator of goodness. A businessperson gets wealthier by selling a needed service or product, at a market price or below, to willing consumers. Governor Lamont got wealthier by providing a good service to colleges. “Good” is the right label, because hundreds of clients freely bought his firm’s services. Good for them, and good for him. A non-owner gets wealthy by doing good work for others. That work gets her raises, more responsibility, and if she wants to take it on, more opportunity to herself be an owner.
Now wealth does require SAVINGS. The ability for good workers to get wealthy has become imperiled by rising costs and rising taxes. Our State Senate has a responsibility to reduce inherent costs so family members who work hard CAN save. Thus as Senator, i would seek to reduce electricity costs, reduce property taxes, reduce mandatory fees, and reduce income taxes (state AND federal). The progressive goal of a “living wage” is best met when a worker (and her vendors, her employer, her landlord) is not taxed so heavily. This is where conservative MEETS progressive: see, we can all get along. Our common enemy is intractable, oppressive government.
We do not have a revenue problem; we have a SPENDING problem. Address spending sensibly and there is no need for new revenue from marijuana, gambling, or tolls. And if you must raise revenue (a LAAAAST resort while I’m Senator), it should include expanding the lottery. Assertive lottery expansion can bring us $2 billion each decade.
A first resort is expanding state investments that are (unlike marijuana sports betting, and tolls) unanimously wholesome. That means investing in the travel industry, where a thousand dollars spent supposedly returns five thousand dollars in earnings, and where outsiders come, appreciate Connecticut, and might become future residents. A second resort is investing in new schools – CT already has a relative advantage versus other states and we should PRESS that advantage.
One school that will pay off handsomely is a “Cyber Crime Detection” Institute (“not your father’s CCD”). This might be an arm of UConn, or a separate school for those who will ferret out criminals nationally and internationally. Violent crime in CT is relatively low, but electronic crime is unreasonably high. An effective program based in CT could be used by DC and other states to help them all cut down on their citizens being ripped off. Again, this is an investment with a high likelihood of paying for itself many times over (here in tuitions because people will pay to launch good careers, and in revenue from other states for our information and possibly our prosecutions).
As a third resort, it means investing in good businesses. Dan Malloy’s “First Five” was not an inherently bad policy; and especially in dire economic times, it makes sense to throw a “Hail Mary” for good businesses to grab. My preference is to not use state money, but to back investors should their well-efforted work go sour in an unexpectedly bad economy.
Now, that said, i am for expanding gaming and marijuana. That’s not for the revenue; it’s for the FREEDOM. It’s not the government’s business to squelch the harmless activities of consenting adults. It’s SOMEWHAT the government’s business to invest in tourism and policies that make CT appealing to visitors and new permanent arrivals. Over the last 30 years, we have ceded our high-appeal to Massachusetts (“Tax-achusetts” is now better than CT, and MA is now the place to shop for cannabis and entertain oneself is a casino. What a shame that CT, a state with so many intelligent people, won’t keep up.)
Marijuana is not a gateway drug. However, there is evidence that a gateway to harder drugs comes from the marijuana being illegal. (Kid tries weed, gets high, comes down with no after-effects and rationally says “what’s the big deal? I’ll try other illegal stuff”. Then goes on to addictive drugs.) The illegality is what impels people wanting a controlled high to end up buying pot laced with bad stuff from “Tony” the street dealer, instead of CVS or Rite-Aid. Except for minors, the Senate should let people do activities that give them pleasure so long as they are not harming others.
Gaming too. The current illegality puts our citizens, and their money, in the hands of off-shore sports books. They often get ripped off and they have no recourse against international criminals.
The market for controlled marijuana use and controlled goming has been greatly expanded in Massachusetts, while our General Assembly has dithered. The tribal issue is NOT complex. We can end the Indian lands compact at any time. The very-privileged tribes (a tribe of 900 earns $30 million annually from slot machines alone; thier 18 year olds get $50,000 cars upon graduation). Start over; pay regular sales taxes and property taxes, and compete with other developers to open new casinos in CT communities that want them. Not hard.
Tolling is not complex either. Answer: over my prone body, in the doorway of the Senate, will a fellow senator have to step if wanting traditional tolls. We can’t toll just New Yorkers (and it’s unfriendly to do so). Tolling means taxing ourselves. Again, if we actually NEEDED the money for necessary state functions, there’s a wee argument for tolls. But then a mileage-based use fee is far more efficient and fair than tolls, which unfairly tax commuters far more than non-commuters. See my interview with Colin McEnroe, April 2018 at 8:55, http://www.wnpr.org/post/meet-your-gubernatorial-candidates-ones-you-dont-know
Remember, tolls are a means, not a good program. The Leftist Democrats want tolls because they want MORE OF OUR MONEY. We have abundant revenues now if we stop paying for unnecessary things, and stop padding workers’ salaries with expensive benefits that no equivalent workers in the private industry ever see.
- Specifically, where do you think spending cuts should be made in the state budget? Please see the On the Issues/Budget section of www.StewartForLiberty.com for my suggestions of what we should KEEP. You’ll notice these are the NECESSARY services; we begin to let private funding take care of the nice-but-NOT-necessary services. That’s the theory.
More pragmatically, armed with this “necessary vs. nice” Mantra, i would let Governor Lamont choose the first year programs that can be privatized. Likely these will be programs that are highly likeable and will easily get funded privately. With this deduction, Mr. Lamont should offer a tax cut. I suggest 30%. That covers a 10% reduction in our spending and cuts down our debt. (Debt is horrible – we pay $2.6B annually and for it get NOTHING).
With the success of privatization in Year One, Governor Lamont can extend it. Privatize 15% to 20% in Year Two. To those who used a substantial part of their tax rebate on new charitable donations, give them a further tax cut of 34%. And in Year Three, continue to privatize the nice-but-not-necessary services. That can be the 20% – 30% remaining. And yes, those who have been charitable get that further tax cut, another 36%. That puts them at 0 state income tax. Our debt is paid off; our budget is trimmed 45% to 55%. That STILL keeps all state aid to K-12 education intact.
This Mantra is not new. This was the rule of American government until the 1930s. Connecticut, funding only the necessary services, did very well for its first 300 years. In the 1870s citizen Mark Twain could report that poverty in Hartford was non-existent. In the 1920s mutual aid societies were very robust, letting groups care for their own families who fell on hard times. Larry Elder reports that Black families in the teens and twenties had especially good self-help groups. They didn’t need the government to step in when someone was laid off or became very sick.
As government stepped in to replace families, families became less strong. And the result is sad – government aid lifts very few people from poverty; government control of schools keeps many urban children from succeeding like they otherwise could. Government replacement of fathers makes women have little need for husbands (but plenty need for welfare funds when they have children outside of wedlock).
- What can the State Senate do about unfunded pension liabilities? I would use privatization and buyouts. For current good state workers, privatizing and gaining a 40% to 50% salary increase (CT tax free) allows you to more than cover your health insurance and to save even better for your retirement.
For retirees, a buyout is harder. But there is SOME lower number at which a retiree should trust a private firm to pay at the same promised rate than the state, which could face a lawsuit that invalidates its requirement of paying lavish pensions. That lower number might be just a 3% haircut, but that savings funds COMPLETELY every four year old in a pre-K learning program. If we can get to 6%, then every 3 and 4 year old can be in an early learning program and where that’s desirable, their parents can be back to work.
Retirees are not poor. Nationwide the average 85 year old has THIRTY TIMES the wealth of the average 35 year old. (In CT it is likely more extreme). Moral suasion, perhaps aided by the threat of favorable courts (but don’t count on it) just might win us that 3% to 6% haircut that would help the people who need it most – our youngsters.
For the FUTURE: a Senator Mark Stewart Greenstein will never vote for legislation containing a single state pension. Pensions are relics. Astute workers of today have many options for saving that their ancestors lacked. Let workers have their full pay, with no deductions, and you give them a better chance to grow wealthy. Let workers have full choice in health plans and they insure their families better.
State unions can be BETTER unions if they concentrate on what they can do best: increasing pay and assuring worker safety. Let retirements and health care assurance be done individually, or with nimble advisors who can steer working families to plans that best fit their needs.
- What is your opinion on regionalizing some services? If regionalizing is voluntary, fine. If West Hartford and Bloomfield citizens (not just their governing bodies) see affinities in sharing water, libraries, waste disposal firms, childrens’ programs, or elder care services, by all means team up. In other words act like a BUSINESS would in seeking partnerships.
If Burlington families want to share resources (as they do now with Harwinton for schools), again, fine.
Regionalization coming by state demand is inefficient and evil. It is a prescription for foisting big BADLY-RUN systems on towns that want to preserve their own small, well-run systems. It would be especially bad for West Hartford schools, which are well run, and which will otherwise fall prey to bureaucrats from Hartford who can’t even figure out how to fill more than 30% of a building (Weaver High is 27% occupied). Many people move to West Hartford FOR THE SCHOOLS. That will eng if West Hartford’s schools are a county-wide amalgamation.
- What is your opinion on Educational Cost Sharing for the towns in the 5thDistrict? ECS is the epitome of BAD regionalization. And it hits where it counts the most – with our childrens’ education. EVERYONE with children in West Hartford, Farmington, and Har-Bur districts should stay steadfast against ECS. ECS sucks money from well-run towns and gives it, with no strings attached, to badly run schools in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury.
ECS also is laughable. It never gets agreed to for more than three years, and even WHEN agreed to it never gets adequately funded. ECS is a marquee example of state government trying to do too much and failing. Let towns do their education well. Let students stuck in towns with poorly performing schools attend neighboring schools that do education better.
Please see more in the Issues/Education section of www.stewartforliberty.com. I am an educator and passionate about our students receiving better educations.
What do you feel is the biggest issue facing 5thDistrict voters today? Complacency. We don’t pay attention to incremental property tax increases, Then one day, perhaps following a spouse’s need to stop working, we find out “they are too damn high!”. We don’t pay enough attention to restrictions on business; then one day, when our favorite local store closes in part due to an invasive labor-relations regime, we lament the loss.
The losses are going to come faster if the Leftists who occupy the General Assembly have their way. That’s the Martin Looney/Josh Elliott wing. They want even more control over our lives and our wallets.
They are strong. And wrong.
We need to combat them, state-wide. And stop being complacent.
What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? Bill and Jeff are solid. Hopefully we will all be in the General Assembly by the start of 2021. They and i SHARE similar sentiments about minimizing government.
I am the “fresh air” candidate for the 5th. I started a non-Profit to get more commerce back to Connecticut, i am starting a new school for middle schoolers in Hartford, and i am at the front of an effort to bring back the Whalers.
I’m the local candidate who started a statewide political party – Americans for Minimal Government (“AMiGo” for short). AMiGo is meant to give many more candidates options for running when their parties are constipated by seniority, sclerosis, or orthodoxy. (It also gives good Republicans an out when an odious-to-voters President tops their ticket). There is a very good chance that AMiGo will give endorsements to Jeff and Bill should they want to run for the 21st House and 5th Senate Districts in 2020.
It’s Mr. Slap who might be out of touch. Derek is a decent guy in a BAD party.
Derek’s Democrats are growing worse. Derek needs to decide over the next 15 months whether he’s going to side with the Martin Looney/Josh Elliott wing, or if he can robustly be a Democrat that JFK, MLK, Hubert Humphrey, Abe Ribicoff, and Ella Grasso would be proud of.
If Derek can stand up for tolerance, truly helping the poor, and reducing government oppression, as old-fashioned Democrats did, then i support his ascent, perhaps to become House Majority Leader. Perhaps to take my place in the Senate (I am pledged to serving only this one term in the 5th. If voters really like me, liberal “domicile” rules allow me to run for Senate next year in the 1st or 6th).
If Derek is going to go along with the feelings-intoxicated wing of the Democrats, then he should be shown the door. Even liberal West Hartford should not stand for statist policies like those brandished by Josh Elliott and Martin Looney. Even successful, vibrant West Hartford won’t stand up economically if the Leftists’ “equity” schemes are in place. (“Equity” is their nice-sonding word for taxing productive people even more, and giving it to people who don’t want to work. It’s their nice-sounding word for making school systems that have been run WELL, get sucked into a vortex of state-run, top-down badly-administered schools that will lose good teachers and evenutually lose good students).
Derek needs to decide. Perhaps not this month (but then why elevate him to the Senate now?). Perhaps after 15 months. Remember, if i am elected this month i will not run again for the 5th District. It will be a long-run open competition that a candid Derek might fight for.
But if Derek decides to align with the Left, we should not elevate him in that fight at all. Leftism is bad for the 5th, and bad for Connecticut.
Yes, this is stark. Yes, this has netional implications. Democrat leaders in the U.S. Congress are also running spastically toward statism. At least here, in tolerant, liberal Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington, and West Hartford, voters should put the brakes on this Leftist lurch.
Anything else you would like to share? SURE. Over 400 short videos relating to Civics are at www.StewartforLiberty.com.
For those interested in growing a third party in CT and nationwide, please visit www.weResist.us.
Here’s an unasked-issue that will come up, and my “communitarian” solution: rehabbing homes with crumbling foundations. This is where we should help our neighbors. The best way is the old-fashioned way, with private welfare. If government gets OUT of the way, we could have half these foundations fixed this summmer, using cheap labor for low-skill work (a good slighty-paid internship for youngsters wanting to go into the trades) supervised by skilled contractors who’d like to get future business and hire talented youngsters long term. (“North East Workaholics – We Fix New England”). Suspend the zoning laws that allow only one foundation per parcel and let families build a second home on the parcel. Families get a decent deal, and the state pays almost nothing (it might become an insurer of last resort in case the contracting goes badly). This exemplifies how liberty-minded people like me get problems solved without pressing the public coffers.
Finally, i would like to be assigned to two of the very committees in which Sen. Beth Bye was involved: Appropriations and Education. For Appropriations, expect me to be the “Dr. No” of the CT Senate. If it’s not a necessary government expenditure, expect me to vote “no” and thus preserve what’s in your wallet. For Education, there are many EASY-TO-DO reforms long overdue. Most salient is letting urban families choose their schools. The ugly Sheff v. ONeill result has been with us way too long, and has now trapped three generations of Hartford kids. Racists like David Duke couldn’t be happier. We in this 2019 Senate will end it by June.
I hold conferences with voters every Tuesday at 11 and every Friday at 5. I look forward to working WITH you for “A Better Connecticut” (MSG for ABC).
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