Growing up in federal housing projects and taking classes to learn English,
Tony Hwang never doubted that education was the key to success in America, just as it was in his native Taiwan. It wasn’t until he started his college career at Cornell University that he realized just how special an opportunity he had and the sacrifices that was required to make a difference.
“The admissions director brought me into his office and told me, ‘You have a responsibility to make a difference,'” Hwang said.
Hwang, 44, said his chance to make the biggest difference to the most people in his community is NOW. The Fairfield resident is the Republican nominee to challenge for the 134th District State Representative seat, which includes parts of Trumbull and Fairfield.
Hwang graduated from Cornell University with a degree in labor relations and runs a successful real estate business affiliated with (Coldwell Banker) Real Estate Company. Tony currently serves on the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting (similar to Trumbull Town Council), where he is a member of the education and recreation committee and past vice chairman of public works committee.
“For me, coming to this country and having the opportunity for a better quality of life has been a tremendous gift,” Hwang said. “Now, I want a chance to give others a chance to succeed.”
Hwang said the biggest issues he sees facing the district are TAXES and the single party control that the Democrats have in Hartford. With one party calling the shots, the taxpayers lose out.
“My parents came to this country to escape the rule of the Communist Party and (Martial Law),” he said. “Single party rule is simply bad government.”
For example, Hwang said he recently drove to Hartford to observe a special session on revising the state’s gasoline tax. At 57 cents per gallon, only 10 states tax gas more. Also, the state’s $.37 tax on diesel fuel, which fuels most commercial trucks, is the nation’s second-highest.
Attending the session, though, was an eye-opener, Hwang said.
“The session began at 10 a.m., and the speaker called a recess – soon after convening the legislative session,” Hwang said.
Leaving the gallery shortly after noon, Hwang said he overheard the legislative leadership telling their caucus members to order dinner. The session resumed after 8 p.m that evening.
Such is life in Hartford and another example of inefficiency when one party controls both the state House and Senate, he said.
Closer to home, Hwang said TAXES and unfunded state mandates would lead his agenda should he win.
“I have walked through the towns every day, and one thing that is clear is that people love their community, but they are SCARED,” he said. “They wonder if they are going to be able to afford to live in town and if they will be able to pay their taxes once they retire.”
The key to cutting taxes is controlling costs, particularly education costs that make up the bulk of town property taxes. State assistance in the form of Educational Cost Sharing, also tends to shift the cost of education from the cities to the suburbs.
“The ECS formula results in Fairfield getting $.05 for every dollar its residents send to Hartford,” Hwang said. “For Trumbull, it’s $.07. This is a tremendous legislative burden that more people need to be aware of.”
For the Legislature to impose such a tax burden on Trumbull residents, who already fund the Trumbull schools, is fundamentally unfair, Hwang said.
“It’s just too much government and too little accountability and transparency,” he said.
The recent trend of stagnant Grand List growth and rising property taxes is also something Hwang said he is uniquely qualified to handle.
“Owning my own real estate business at (Coldwell Banker), I talk to people looking to move into town or move out of town every day,” he said. “Most people suffer in silence, until they feel like they have been pushed against a wall, then they leave.”
To stem the flow of residents to other states, Hwang said he supports the Learn Here, Live Here legislation, which has been stalled in Hartford for two years. Under the bill, the state would divert the income taxes of college graduates into a personal savings account that the individuals could then use as a down payment when they purchased their first home.
“This gets rid of brain drain, makes buying a home more affordable and keeps these young people in the state’s economy,” Hwang said. “When they set down roots here, they build our economy. We need to have them living here, working here, because once they buy a home in another state, they never come back.”
By Donald Eng
Reprinted from “The Trumbull Times” © Copyright 2008