Charles Ferraro, Republican incumbent in the 117th District, was having lunch with friends more than two years ago, and they were complaining about the government. That’s when he decided to run for office and try to fix the problems he saw, rather than complain.

Two years in, he said he thinks he’s making a difference.

“I feel that I’ve made a difference because I’m another voice that can be added to the debate,” Ferraro said.

The GOP is still in the minority in Hartford, but there are more Republicans than there were before the 2014 election. “So that gave us a little more leverage,” Ferraro said.

Ferraro said he wasn’t a politician before that luncheon more than two years ago, but he decided all the complaining wasn’t doing any good.

Walking in Woodmont this past weekend, campaigning for his second term in office, Ferraro said the economy in Connecticut is still his biggest concern.

Talking with one couple who answered their door, he told them he voted against tax increases and against the state budget, and he said he will continue to vote to cut spending and to lower taxes.

As a businessman — Ferraro is owner of the West Haven Academy of Karate and co-founder of Worldwide Tang Soo Do Family Martial Arts Organization — Ferraro said it’s important to balance your checkbook. He said that for years the state has been overestimating revenues, which leads to overspending.

“It creates a situation where agencies are spending money they don’t have,” Ferraro said. He said state statute says the state needs to create a balanced budget, so that means government leaders are forced to make cuts they don’t necessarily want to make.

The 117th Assembly District includes portions of Milford, Orange and West Haven.

When he announced his plans to run again earlier this year, Ferraro said, “In order to properly fund [programs] we must get our fiscal house in order.” He said, “The current governor and Democrat majority refuses to be inclusive and consider our proposals to streamline government and spend responsibly so we don’t overburden taxpayers.

“We must increase Republican representation in our state legislature, in order to bring a balanced perspective to Hartford,” he added.

Ferraro noted a host of issues that need to be addressed, from everyday life issues like invasive bamboo that in one case is making a constituent’s property difficult to sell to the minimum wage. He expects the legislature will be looking at a minimum wage increase to $15, something he said he probably wouldn’t support unless it was a gradual increase. “To increase 60% could be destructive to businesses,” he said.

Mandatory family leave will likely come up, and state tolls. On both issues, Ferraro said he plans to look at the financial implications and the options for both.

He said the state has to work to get manufacturing jobs back.

Colleen O’Connor, former Republican Town Committee chairman in West Haven, was walking with Ferraro Sunday. She said Ferraro works hard and he’s personable and sincere.

“He takes people’s concerns to the next level,” she said.

Ferraro remembers that when he was campaigning, he told a woman who complained about a Dumpster that had been in the Indian River for three years that he thought the Dumpster should be an easy fix. “I told her I’d just wrap a chain around it and pull it out with a truck.” She showed up at one of his local gatherings after the election and reminded him. He admits he forgot, but he quickly got on it. He said he worked with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and an automotive company in West Haven. They got the permits and then the West Haven garage owner pulled the Dumpster out with a tow truck.

After his first term, he said, he’s learned a lot about the legislative process and getting bills passed, and he feels he can be even more effective next term.

(Click here to read the Milford Mirror article about Sean Ronan)