WESTON, Conn. — John Shaban, the Republican incumbent State Representative from the 135th District, is 48 years old, lives in Redding and is an attorney at Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan. He’s married with three children in the Redding school district. He served as the vice chairman of the Redding Zoning Board and chairman of the Redding Water Pollution Control Commission. He coaches youth football and enjoys sailing, golf and hiking. We asked Shaban five questions about his campaign for reelection:
The Daily Voice: What are biggest issues facing the district:
Shaban: The biggest issues facing our district are the same issues facing the state: the stagnant economy. It’s funny, you think Fairfield County is relatively affluent, especially in my district, and economic woes are shielded from here, but it’s not the case. A lot of my friends and constituents are out of work and have been for a long time. When I go knocking on doors there a lot of empty homes because people move away for foreclosure or otherwise. The slow economy and increasing cost of living in Connecticut and Fairfield County — those are the big issues.
The Daily Voice: What are your biggest achievements in your first term?
Shaban: I had a couple of successes on a number of bills I was trying to push. I managed to draft or co-sponsor the cell tower bill, which is very important to our three towns to get local communities more control over the placement of cell towers, especially in Easton right now. I worked with Democrats and Republicans around the state who had similar issues and we were able to piece together part of several different bills to start the process so local control comes back into the picture.
The First Selectman in Weston wanted to get a bill in respect to zoning enforcement officers. There’s a treble damages provision in the law that allowed private rights of action against zoning enforcement officers for personal damages. We were able to get that changed.
The education reform bill had a provision that would have penalized Joel Barlow for spending more per capita than other schools. It would have received fewer dollars from the state and lesser aid. I supported the education bill, but that was one part that had to come out, so we got rid of that provision.
The Daily Voice: Do you think Connecticut is going in the right or wrong direction?
Shaban: We are drifting in the wrong direction in fiscal parts. We spend more than we bring in. We burn $5 million more a week than we bring in. The way we spend our money is the wrong direction. Some of our social policies, the early release of violent criminals was wrong direction, but we did some positive things with the education reform bill.
The Daily Voice: What do you do to involve constituents in the decision-making process?
Shaban: I try to do as many town halls as I can. I’m a big fan of chatting with the people. We do emails and write newsletters to let people know what I’m doing. I get a ton of emails coming back. Emails have enabled that kind of communication.
The Daily Voice: Why should people vote for you?
Shaban: You vote for the person who most closely matches your view of the way things should be run at state level. I believe we should do as much stuff locally as possible. Democratic types are a little more top down, I’m more bottom up. Do you think a more centralized approach makes sense or a bottom up local approach makes sense? It’s different for different issues. I have experience doing a number of things around town with different commissions and I’m an environmental attorney so I understand the issues that affect the environment and our legal system. I know what laws to pass and not to pass. A lot try to pass laws willy nilly. People don’t put the pieces together. If people agree with that, I’m your guy.