Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Ackert, Lewis spar again for 8th House District

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
Saturday, May 3, 2008

Republican Tim Ackert and Rep. Joan Lewis, D-Coventry, will square off again this November as the Coventry businessman will try for a second consecutive attempt at unseating the Democrat running for a fourth term in the 8th House District.

The district includes Coventry, Columbia, and parts of Vernon.

Ackert made the announcement Thursday that he would take another stab at the state House seat, saying he shares the widespread frustration of voters with all levels of government, and promising to control state spending, fight unfunded mandates, and ease property tax burdens.

Lewis, the incumbent, defeated Ackert in his first bid two years ago, taking 60 percent of the vote.

She said she was surprised Ackert decided for another go-‘round, but is not about to give up easily as there is too much left to do regarding escalating property tax, environmental and health care issues, and farm preservation.

“My job is to get out there and work if I want to win, and that’s what I plan to do,” Lewis said.

“There is a lot left to be done ... we cannot continue to look at property taxes for funding our budgets. And farm preservation is very important to me. There are only about 157 left statewide,” she said.

Lewis said she will be sitting on a subcommittee this summer exploring tax policy and smart growth, and she believes the state university and community college system needs more support.

“Education is a way out of poverty — it makes sense,” she said. “I serve on the school readiness council in Coventry and I’ve seen the reports, and it’s amazing how much a small child’s brain absorbs from birth to three and in preschool.

“I feel very strongly that educational standards have to be brought up, particularly in the cities, but also in the towns like Coventry, where only 60 percent of children were in school readiness programs — that will improve the economy for the entire state,” she added.

Ackert, 45, says he is also ready for the challenge.

“I am confident I can help bring effective, responsive government back to our state,” Ackert said. “People are suffering from crushing property taxes, gas taxes, income taxes, and hidden taxes on all that we own or buy. Prices for gas and food are spiraling upward. Meanwhile, government spending is out of control.

Owner of Ackert Electric in Coventry Village, Ackert said he also wants to relieve the strain on businesses in a struggling economy.

“We cannot afford to continually burden our business community with unrealistic regulations and costs, because these costs affect everything else around them, from our infrastructure to our schools and communities,” he said. “I can’t just stand by and watch this happen without doing something to bring about reform, and common sense legislation.”

Ackert has served on the Coventry Zoning Board of Appeals, police building committee, and Main Street Partnership. He has been a youth sports coach, Little League team sponsor, and president of the local and statewide Jaycees.

An Air Force veteran, Ackert served in the Strategic Air Command. He is a longtime Coventry resident and is married with two children.

Lewis, who is an estate planning paralegal with more than 30 years of public service, serves on the Appropriations, Higher Education, and Employment Advancement, and Public Safety and Security committees in the General Assembly.

She served as chairwoman of the Coventry Town Council for 15 years in addition to a 12-year-stint on the Board of Education.

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