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Lisa Conant

Running for Town Council

5 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status:


Age: 51

Marital Status:

Current Residence: Coventry

Current Job: Grants & Contracts Specialist, University of Connecticut

Previous Job: Grants Coordinator, The Jackson Laboratory

Previous Job: Planning Analyst, Community Renewal Team

Education: BA, UConn

Why are you running for this office?
I'm running because I love Coventry, and I want the tremendous progress that we've made with our schools, our businesses and economic assets, and sensible stewardship of our environment and rural character to continue to grow. I believe that we can only thrive as a community if we work together, listen and respect each other, even if we disagree on methods and represent different political parties.
What is the most pressing local issue facing your community and how would you solve it (within the capacity of the office for which you are running)?
Aside from addressing the potential (and unfortunately) probable negative impacts of the state budget on our town, we must find a solution, and quickly, for people dealing with crumbling foundations. This problem is catastrophic to homeowners faced with it and is hurting everyone in eastern Connecticut - even those homeowners who aren't directly affected are seeing their property values drop. And now there is a possibility that the problem is more widespread than just private home foundations - septic systems and public properties (culverts, public building foundations, etc.) may also be crumbling.
With the state's ongoing budget crisis looming over the election, what are your plans for your community's budget? Is there anything you can do make your town less dependent on revenue from the state?
We MUST continue to explore, develop and encourage economic development opportunities that will expand local revenue streams. Coventry has an abundance of assets that can and should be leveraged, including our proximity to UConn, wonderful historical landmarks and architecture dating back to colonial times, a beautiful landscape, many working farms, and long-established destination businesses, events and attractions, such as the Coventry Regional Farmers' Market. I firmly believe that we can grow our town economically while preserving the rural character that defines Coventry through sensible planning and zoning decisions.
The legislature has been debating various ideas to allow towns to raise revenue locally through something other than property taxes. If you could ease your residents' property tax burden by adding another method of taxation, is there anything you might consider for your town?
The state's budget issues have been building for many decades without being addressed, and we can't simply tax and cut our way out of this problem in a year or two without devastating our residents' personal budgets and the municipal services provided to them. Property taxes by their nature are a regressive form of taxation that impacts people with lower incomes much more than those with higher incomes. I believe that progressive tax reform combined with sustained and well-planned economic development, rather than additional taxes, would be a healthier long-term response to raising local revenue and easing the burden on families and seniors.
Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
Regionalization takes advantage of economy of scale by eliminating duplication of services. If it could be done thoughtfully and efficiently without inconveniencing or diminishing quality of service to our residents, I would be in favor of working with other communities. With that said, however, there are many municipal services (such as education and public safety) that are best kept within local control.
Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
Yes. Coventry has only four schools in addition to its preschool program - grades K-2, 3-5, a middle school, and a high school. In the 23 years I've lived in town, enrollment has never dropped to the point of it being cost-effective to close one of them, and the physical facilities all still need to be operated and maintained regardless of enrollment fluctuations. Other fixed costs continue to rise. Additionally, Coventry's per-pupil funding from on the state is on the low side; our system has worked miracles with the funding it has received so far, but once cut, this funding is difficult to get back.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I'm a policy and a history nerd. I also worked for a municipality (Manchester, CT) for eight years on both the town and the board of education sides, so I'm familiar with what works and what the challenges are for local citizens.