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Democrats Nominate John Hartwell for 26th State Senate District

Hartwell, who ran in 2008, is again looking to the Hartford post.

Share the pain.

Protect the weak.

Invest for the future.

Those are the three principles Westporter John Hartwell said he would take to Hartford if elected to the State Senate's 26th District.

Hartwell, who ran as a state Senate candidate in 2008, was nominated by the seven-town district Monday night in Westport Town Hall during the Democratic Convention for the 26th State Senatorial District.

Hartwell earned 47 percent of the vote two years ago but lost to Republican Toni Boucher, who has also been nominated by her party to run for re-election.

On Monday, Hartwell was nominated by Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, who asked the crowd of Democratic delegates if he could count on them for four more percentage points to push Hartwell to Hartford.

"As Democrats, we need to wake up in the 26th district," Marconi said. "So repeat after me: I will volunteer to make phone calls. I will volunteer to help raise money. I will volunteer to get Democrats out to vote."

The crowd responded enthusiastically and applauded Hartwell's nomination.

Marconi's motion was seconded by Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff.

"John Hartwell is a gem for the district," Joseloff said, adding that Hartwell has experience both locally, nationally and internationally that would make him prime for the post. He's worked on congressional and presidential campaigns; he's lived in Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia; he graduated from the Yale School of Management; he worked for Chase Manhattan Bank for nine years; and he has coached local basketball, soccer and baseball teams. He also serves on the Metro-North Rail Commuter Council, is chairman of the Westport Water Quality Initiative and is on the board at Earthplace.

Hartwell has been married for 32 years to his wife, Janet, who serves as head of school for Greens Farms Academy in Westport.

After the nominations, Hartwell thanked the crowd and told them that as tough as this year is financially for the state, next year is "going to be worse."

"There is a $4 billion or more shortfall in revenue," Hartwell said. "That's 22 percent of the current budget and there are no good options.

Hartwell said the pain that is felt by the state's budget crisis must be shared. 

"There probably will be tax hikes," Hartwell said. "We have to balance a budget and at the end of the day we can't simply cut our way out of this."

Hartwell said the state can't "gut" all its programs and services. They must be evaluated and the ones necessary to maintain might have to be paid for in taxes. He said he's dedicated to protecting the weak and maintaining services for those who can't care for themselves.

He also said some people think taxing the rich is the answer, and many look to Fairfield County. 

"That concerns me," Hartwell said. "We are not the ATM for Hartford."

Hartwell said once the programs and services are identified that cannot be cut, he said the state must figure out a way to pay for them in an equitable manner.

"We have to look at our tax structure," he said, adding that tax exemptions, corporate taxes and property taxes should all be evaluated.

"Hartford is dysfunctional," he said in an interview after the convention. "The budget came in late. The governor refused to sign it. We need people working together up there and I'm willing to do that."

While people work on fixing the budget crisis, Hartwell said they cannot forget to invest in the future, which he said is the only place borrowing money would be appropriate.

That means investing in infrastructure, such as rail and mass transit, education, such as community colleges, and industries of the future, such as biotechnology.

"For too long, Connecticut has relied on Fairfield County for its revenue and Fairfield County has relied on financial services," Hartwell said. "We have to diversify and grow another industry."

Hartwell's campaign committee has been set up as John Hartwell 2010. You can also follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnhartwell.

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