March 17, 2018

Carney (R) Seeks Third Term as State Representative, Democrat Pugliese Announces Challenge

State Rep. Devin Carney

UPDATED 3/7 10:09pm: OLD SAYBROOK: Devin Carney, a Republican who ran unopposed for a second term in 2016, has announced his intention to seek a third term as State Representative for the 23rd General AssemblyDistrict, which includes the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and coastal Westbrook. But this November, Carney will be challenged by Old Saybrook resident and Democrat Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a non-profit arts executive, notes in a press release that, “The frustration that our community feels is palpable.  The community wants change, wants new voices.  I’m running for state representative to help lead that change.   I’m a listener, and a leader who believes in building consensus, finding compromise and getting things done.”

Carney, who works as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Old Saybrook. explains his decision to seek a third term in a press release in this way, “Over these past two terms, I have always put the people of the 23rd District first.This community is everything to me. I was raised here and I understand the unique values and needs of my constituents. In these difficult and divisive times, it is important that the state has leaders with a proven track record of putting people over politics and who will work together to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order.”

Matt Pugliese.

Pugliese, a resident of Old Saybrook, has spent his career working in the non-profit theatre industry, beginning at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  He served as the Executive Director at Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theatre in Middletown, CT and now is the Executive Producer at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, based on UConn’s Storrs campus. Pugliese holds his BA in Theatre (’04) and his Masters in Public Administration (’17), both from UCONN. Pugliese said, “My work in the arts has been about activism.  It is about bringing together diverse audiences and creating opportunities for dialogue.  That is how we solve problems.  Every day running a theatre is about creative, problem solving and strategic thinking. The intersection of the arts and government – that is community.  That has been my professional career for 15 years.”

A lifelong resident of the district, Carney graduated from Old Saybrook Public Schools and currently lives in Old Lyme. He is the Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee, meaning he is the highest-ranked House Republican on the committee, and he serves on the Environment Committee and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. In addition, Carney chairs the bipartisan Clean Energy Caucus, was the founding House Republican of the bipartisan Young Legislators Caucus, and serves on both the bipartisan Tourism Caucus and bipartisan Intellectual and Developmental Disability Caucus. He has also served as the Connecticut House Republican State Lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

Pugliese comments in the release, “Non-profit organizations need to run efficiently and effectively.  We know how to get the most out of every dollar.  My experiences in the non-profit sector in Middlesex County really opened my eyes to the incredible need we have in our community.  We have young people and families facing the most extreme and basic risks.  But we also have incredible resources in our community to draw upon.  That is what makes our district a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”

Over his first two terms, Rep. Carney says he advocated for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, seniors, tourism, small business, local public education, and improving I-95. In 2015, he voted against the second largest tax increase in Connecticut’s state history. In 2017, he voted against the SEBAC agreement, but supported the bipartisan budget compromise in October.

Pugliese’s community involvement includes Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission since 2015, of which he was recently elected Chairperson.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce for two years.  He served as the co-chair of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County Live Local Give Local 365 initiative when it was launched in 2011.  In 2012, Pugliese was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” for his professional work and civic involvement.

Carney’s community activities include serving on the Board of Trustees at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and the Board of Directors at Saye Brook Senior Housing. He is a member of both the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, a lector at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, and serves on both the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee as a member and the Old Saybrook Republican Town Committee as an honorary member.

Public education is a key issue for Pugliese. He comments in the release, “When I think of our communities, I think of our strong public education systems. I will fight for the funding we deserve from Hartford necessary to support our schools.  I believe we need to invest in our higher education system. We want to have a vibrant university system to educate our young people, ensure their access to this education, and keep them here as part of our workforce in Connecticut.”

Commenting on his achievements in the past four years, Carney says, “I have pushed back against drastic tax increases to residents, defeated a federal rail proposal that would have devastated the region, supported bipartisan initiatives to combat our opioid crisis, and fought Governor Malloy’s proposal to push teacher pension costs onto local school districts. I have always put the taxpayer first and engaged with the community.”

Pugliese is an advocate for paid family leave, ensuring rights for women and minorities and championing arts, culture and tourism.  He adds, “Part of the identity of our community is the incredible cultural resources we have in the 23rd district. These resources drive tourism, which is critical to the economy of the towns in our region.  We need to ensure the viability of our cultural assets, and the public infrastructure needed to support tourism.”

Carney highlights in his press release, “I have never missed a vote,” adding, “Connecticut is at a crossroads and our residents and businesses cannot afford the same tax-and-spend policies that have put the state into this mess. It is imperative Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook continue to have a strong voice at the table during this tough fiscal reality.”