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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fontana to challenge Fasano for Assembly seat

As published in the Record Journal Tuesday January 24, 2012

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2225

— For the first time since he was voted into office in 2002, state Sen. Leonard A. Fasano, R-North Haven, will have an opponent as he seeks re-election.

Democrat Steve Fontana, a former state representative from North Haven, announced Monday on the steps of Town Hall that he will challenge Fasano in the 34th District, which encompasses Wallingford, East Haven and parts of North Haven and Durham.

“There are too many politicians in Hartford that aren’t helping,” Fontana told a crowd of supporters, including state legislators and local Democratic leaders.

Fontana said he wants to focus on rebuilding the middle class and “restoring the American dream for everyone.”

No stranger to politics, Fontana, 48, served for 14 years as the representative of North Haven’s 87th General Assembly District. He lost his seat to Republican Dave Yaccarino by a little more than 1,000 votes in 2010. Earlier he had served on a number of boards and commissions in North Haven, including the Board of Selectmen.

Wallingford Democratic Town Chairman Vincent Avallone said he was pleased to see a qualified candidate step up to challenge Fasano.

“I’m glad to see someone of Steve Fontana’s caliber running,” Avallone said. “He has a history of working with people. He’s come from modest means; he knows what the middle class is like.”

Walter Spader, vice chairman of the North Haven Democratic Town Committee, said Fontana is “a dream candidate.”

“You don’t often get that record of achievement and accomplishment,” Spader said. “He has a good record.”

Addressing the crowd, Fontana said it was “time for a change.”

“Let’s make it happen,” he said. “Let’s work together to make this a reality.”

Fontana said he decided to run because “I believe strongly in public service, in giving back.” He attributed his 2010 loss to voters being “frustrated, fed up and they wanted a change.”

A seat in the state Senate, Fontana said, will allow him to work on policy that will have a greater regional impact. He hopes to work toward reducing health care and energy costs, he said.

Reached by telephone, Fasano said he has a record of standing up for the middle class.

“I’ve always fought for the middle class,” he said. “The tax hikes Steve has voted for hurt the middle class. The billion dollar tax hike by the governor crippled the middle class.”

Fasano said he is working to make Connecticut more job friendly, that strict regulations and “an onerous tax burden” are driving businesses and jobs out of the state.

On a personal level, Fasano called Fontana “a good guy” and said he welcomed the challenge.

“Competition is healthy,” Fasano said.

Having an opponent won’t drastically change his campaign or his message to voters, Fasano said. “It’s not going to change what I do and who I am,” he said.

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