Rob Kwasnicki is a young Republican – a minor confession: Anyone younger than I, most of the planet, I regard as “young” – who is challenging incumbent state Representative David Kiner in Connecticut’s 59th District, which comprises a portion of Enfield and East Windsor.
Prior to the interview below, I asked Mr. Kwasnicki to provide a brief biography.
The son of Polish immigrants, whose background was in farming, Mr. Kwasnicki was born in Hartford and raised in East Hartford. His father, uncles and grandfather were all blue collar workers. Others in his family were entrepreneurs and small business owners. One was a contractor, others owned a hardware store, a machine shop and a small restaurant in Warehouse Point CT, Village Luncheonette.
Having graduated from Bryant University, Mr. Kwasnicki helped manage his family’s restaurant then moved to Manhattan, where he lived for about 3 years, half in mid-town and half in the upper west side near Columbia University. In New Jersey, he began his career in IT as a junior programmer, was quickly promoted to network manager in his mid-20’s, became a system engineer for a consulting company and transitioned in recent years into marketing and sales. As Director of National Marketing Strategy, he oversees marketing and sales activity for WinWinUSA.com, a company that provides an information and communication nexus that allows businesses, small and large, to share information that will enhance and encourage the entrepreneurial activity of its members.
“Divorced,” Mr. Kwasnicki writes, “I am a proud father of a wonderful, warm-hearted and beautiful daughter, Alanna. Both her mother and I have a great working relationship as parents and support each other’s respective roles. Outside of work, I enjoy reading, the outdoors, music, cooking and physical activity. As a hobby, I play drums and guitar with friends I’ve had since I was 8 or 9, am into photography, wrote a children’s story (unpublished) and have a couple dozen original songs in various conditions. I enjoy running the Manchester Road Race during Thanksgiving, miss rock climbing, but have recently gotten my fix with an afternoon of rock scrambling at ‘The Gunks.’”
Mr. Kwasnicki grew up in a Democratic household. His transition to Republicanism began after he had read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, popular novels by Ayn Rand. In addition to Ms. Rand’s writings, which “challenged my beliefs and values,” Mr. Kwasnicki cites as influences his “high school football coach, Jude Kelly, who was a tremendous mentor and life coach, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Jefferson, and our combat veterans and their families.”
Q: How does a conservative like you respond to Democratic progressives in Connecticut who believe that elected officials, both federal and state, should micromanage a nurturing society.
A: A nurturing society would unlock the extraordinary potential that lies latent in every person. It is the people, not the government upon which forward progress depends. And the founding documents of the nation attest to the preeminence of the people, from which government derives the right to govern. The Bill of Rights codifies our natural rights. The Constitution sets the framework of our government. It is a living, breathing document because it provides for amendments and specifies the manner in which it may be amended. Conservatives believe in a politics of limits. But government today, especially the federal branch, has become incredibly overbearing, operating outside its Constitutional boundaries, reckless with the people’s treasury, and unapologetic in its disregard of the law of the land. The United States of America is not a top-down, authoritarian construct; it is a Constitutional Republic. We are a bottom-up society and that is where the solutions to our challenges lie -- with the people.”
Q: Can you list for us some of the goals you hope to accomplish if you are elected?
A: Sure. Spending must be brought under control. Unless this happens, events will control us. The state debt must be reduced. Borrowing must be brought under the same constraints that apply to budgets. It’s become much too easy to pass along debts to children yet unborn. Governmental policies must be reshaped so that businesses already in state will remain viable, while businesses out of state will be induced to move to Connecticut. Young people who have graduated from one or another very expensive college in Connecticut have been uprooting themselves and moving to other states with lower taxes and less punishing regulations. I think it is possible to reinstate tax exemptions on clothing and footwear, a great help to young families. Restoring the sales tax exemption on over-the-counter non-prescription drugs will help everyone, but most especially seniors living on fixed incomes. Gas and diesel taxes might be reduced, a direct benefit to all working families. These reductions would be the equivalent of a raise in income and would spur small business activity. Get rid of the $250 Connecticut business entity tax; it’s a nuisance tax that carries a forbidding message to any business considering a move to Connecticut. Chuck the “special assessment” tax on employers. The special tax is supposed to renew Connecticut’s depleted Unemployment Trust Fund which became depleted or “insolvent” on Oct. 13, 2009 and is an impost added on to the unemployment tax businesses already are charged. The General Assembly should as a matter of course review all regulations and eliminate those that do not spur business activity; all new regulations should be sunsetted. A super-majority vote in both houses of the General Assembly should be required to pass any new unfunded state mandates. Generally, all state mandates increase municipal obligations, which are costly – and the costs are not absorbed by state politicians. State mandates are unpurchased raids on municipal budgets by state politicians who continually tell us that they want to adopt measures that will reduce the municipal reliance on property taxes. A super-majority should be required whenever mandates are imposed on municipal governments. We call a sponger that person in a restaurant that has just gorged himself and passed along the bill to the stranger sitting beside him. Mandate makers are spongers, pure and simple.
Q: I think you might take a breath here.
A: One last shot. Corporate welfare is tax theft. During his first term in office, Governor Malloy imposed a broad based tax on nearly everyone doing business in Connecticut. The Malloy tax followed by thirteen years the Lowell Weicker income tax. Tax money is now being collected from small business owners and shuttled along to mega-companies to restrain these companies from moving out of the highest taxed state in the nation. Harry Truman, who was used to plain speech, would have called this middle class robbery. It distorts the free market, gives the blackest of black eyes to honest capitalists, withdraws from the public market place the entrepreneurial capital small businesses need to expand and create jobs, and leaves the impression on the general public that politicians are “investing” in the state’s economy – when, in fact, they are playing Russian roulette with people’s futures. If I am elected to the General Assembly, I will fight to blow that imposture sky high.
Q: The 59th District comprises parts of Enfield and East Windsor. For the last several House elections, Democrats have prevailed and won the seat by large margins. So, there is a high hill any Republican candidate for office must surmount to bring that seat into the Republican fold. On occasion, elections in the district were uncontested. There are three possibilities: 1) People are creatures of habit and sadistically will vote for Democrats no matter what, even if the Republicans were shrewd enough to put God on their ticket; 2) In the past, Republicans have simply surrendered certain districts to Democrats, and the 59th is one of them; 3) No Republican contestant has in the near past advanced a message that would pluck the heartstrings of voters in the District. Other Republicans have argued that Connecticut’s one party state has deprived voters of alternative choices: Old and bad habits have doomed voters in the District to an unchanging political treadmill. What do you hope to bring to your campaign that will be different and more appealing than that of your Republican predecessors?
A: I hope to make it clear to my neighbors, friends and fellow residents in the 59th through a vigorous campaign that in November they will have two clear choices for State Representative: An incumbent who, to my knowledge, has not challenged any position or issue pushed upon him by his party’s bosses, has worked the majority of his young professional life in politics, has shown no true leadership, has failed in providing adequate support to our districts schools, and provides a narrow corridor of life experience, verses me: A candidate who has a career outside of politics and knows how to bring people together; a candidate with a breadth of experience, a background encompassing a wide range of perspectives; a leader who will stand up for what is right and proper, regardless from where an issue arises; someone who truly believes in the extraordinary potential of each individual, and a candidate who enjoys whole milk.
I have traveled in nearly every state in our union and am amazed at what we, whom politicians often refer to as “average Americans”, accomplish in our family’s lives, communities and businesses.
My message, my core belief, is that we the people are the source of solutions. I want to see a Connecticut that believes in itself again; Where working families feel secure in a bright future, whether working for an employer or as small business owners; A Connecticut where communities embrace and support each other; A Connecticut that has a government body humbly administering the business of the people as servants first, leaders second.
My opponent’s political party at the capital has a much different view about us, “average citizen.” My election to office would represent a clear rejection of their views and a boisterous confirmation that Connecticut is filled with “extraordinary people.”
The CT Comeback begins by electing a new state representative in the 59th.