STONINGTON — Bob Statchen is throwing his hat into the ring for the Democratic party nomination for the 18th District state Senate seat currently held by Republican Heather Somers.
Statchen, 49, of Stonington, will compete for the nomination against Dan Kelley, of Pawcatuck, who announced his campaign in mid-February.
Since 2006, Statchen has worked as an assistant clinical professor of law at Western New England University of Law in Springfield, Mass., where he supervises students who provide legal services to local entrepreneurs with limited financial resources.
Since 1997, as a lieutenant colonel with the Connecticut Air National Guard, he has also served as a staff judge advocate.
He previously worked as a lawyer with Tobin, Carberry, O’Malley, Riley & Selinger, P.C. in New London and for Ryan, Ryan, Johnson & Deluca LLP in Stamford.
He holds a B.A. in history and international development from Clark University, a J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law, an MBA from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Law in taxation from Boston University.
He and his wife, Harriet Jones, have three children.
Statchen has lived in Connecticut most of his life. He was born in Bristol, grew up in Burlington and summered in Stonington at Lords Point from the age of 5.
After traveling the world in the Air Force, he said he knew he wanted to settle in Connecticut.
“It’s a great place to live, a great place to raise your kids, a great place to work,” Statchen said Friday in an interview at The Sun.
Statchen said his experience in teaching and practicing law would be relevant to solving the state’s problems.
“I think I have some skills that could add value to the process, and I think I can help,” he said. “I have an understanding of law and I could add value; and I think especially in this climate, people need to step up and help Connecticut get back on track because it’s a great place.”
If elected in November, Statchen said he wanted to focus his energy on three areas: Policies that impact economic growth; establishing sustainable income; and managing expenses responsibly.
“I don’t believe trickle-down economics, I don’t believe tax cuts for the rich are going to result in economic development,” he said. “Tax cuts to lower- and middle-income people are what generate growth, because the money that they keep goes right back into the economy.”
He said he supported universal health care: “It’s an economic imperative because a healthy workforce is going to be a productive workforce.”
He said he was in favor of a gradual increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour and policies that support green energy and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Statchen also said he was in favor of electronic tolls as a sustainable source of income for the state. Connecticut currently is a “drive-through” state because its gas tax is higher than surrounding states, but tolls might be a way to lower the gas tax, he said.
Personnel costs, including a legacy debt of unfunded employee pensions and benefits going back to 1939, are the state’s biggest expense, he said.
State workers, Statchen said, are often vilified because their salaries are lumped in with the state’s legacy debt, and he wanted to separate the two. He said his research showed current Connecticut state workers earn average salaries compared with other states.
In 2014, Statchen served on Stonington’s Charter Revision Commission, which successfully pushed for a change from an appointed six-member Board of Finance to an elected seven-member board.
He said he has raised about $5,000 of the $15,300 he needs to qualify for the Citizens’ Election Program, a state financing program.
The Democratic Party will hold its convention in May and its primary in August. The 18th District comprises Groton, Griswold, Stonington, North Stonington, Voluntown, Preston, Sterling and Plainfield.