Democrat Ross Tartell wants to find common ground in Hartford
NEW CANAAN — Ross Tartell has never ran for public office.
But, he said, he’s always been a team player — something he thinks Hartford needs.
Tartell, who is the fire commissioner in Wilton, got the desire to run for the 125th House District seat based on what he saw in Washington, part of a movement that many have labeled the “Blue Wave,” or the grassroots Democratic response to the Trump presidency.
“I looked at what was going on in Washington and I thought to myself that I have to do something more than what I’ve been doing,” Tartell said.
Locally and regionally, Tartell’s three key issues are the fiscal stability of the state, transportation and education.
Like his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom O’Dea, Tartell wants to strengthen public and private partnerships. While O’Dea supports a one-lane toll on Interstate 95, Tartell supports tolls throughout the state.
“Why should we subsidize the rest of the state?” Tartell said. “We can minimize the amount of money people pay or even a write-off on taxes.”
This in turn, Tartell explains, will help improve the state’s infrastructure, as sitems like the gas tax bring in less and less revenue as cars switch to electric energy.
Tartell doesn’t think cutting the income tax is a viable option, as doing so would negatively impact education and transportation, sectors that are already seeing lower funding from the state.
Business is also a core issue for both parties, and he said he would push for the state Department of Economic and Community Development to look at regulations that would attract businesses.
“I know how to structure teams. We need to find common ground,” Tartell said. “We need to set a structure where the Economic Development Council for the state can bring business in.”
As a long-range chairman of planning teams in Wilton schools and an associate professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, Tartell looks the part. He wears a brown sports jacket with a blue shirt and navy v-neck sweater.
Tartell believes he and his opponent differ more on social and progressive topics. Tartell received a $28,150 grant from the Citizens Election Program, one O’Dea has proposed gutting.
“If I didn’t have (the funding), I wouldn’t be running,” Tartell said. “It’s an important piece that gives people the capacity to run.”
Tartell doesn’t have it easy — he’s running in a district that has traditionally voted Republican and where registered Republican voters in both New Canaan and Wilton outnumber Democrats.
However, Wilton has a plurality of voters registered as unaffiliated. As of Oct. 15, there were 4,883 unaffiliated voters, 4,116 Republican voters and 3,662 Democratic voters.
“I’ve knocked on 3,500 doors since May. This is my third pair of shoes,” Tartell said. “All my life I’ve been working how to get organizations and people to work together, and that’s what I want to take to Hartford, to find common ground and collaborate,” Tartell said.