MADISON – A newcomer to politics, John Rasimas said that he retired from the state Auditor’s Office on March 31 and began campaigning on April 1. Since then, Rasimas said he’d knocked on over 8,000 doors and lost 35 pounds in a pledge to hit every house in Madison and Durham where he’s running to unseat John Michael-Parker, a Democrat.
CT Examiner joined Rasimas as he walked Cherry Lane, a neighborhood by the Madison Country Club, for a second time to secure votes.
“I run like I’m 20 points down because I don’t know,” Rasimas said. “We don’t do polling, but I’m feeling good.”
His wife would say he campaigned eight days a week, Rasimas joked, but he was usually knocking on doors six days a week.
As an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University and former deputy state auditor, Rasimas told voters he would get Madison their fair share of educational aid – he pointed out that while Clinton received 44 percent state reimbursement for a new high school, and Guildford received 34 percent, Madison got only 18 percent for the new elementary school.
Rasimas told CT Examiner he’d only had one door slam in his five months of campaigning. No dog bites as of yet, either.
At a nearby house, a black Schnauzer named Stella sat on the front porch. Her owners, Frank and Mary Ann, invited Rasimas inside to talk. He’d met the couple about a year ago when Mary Ann began her run for the Madison Board of Education.
The three stood in the kitchen and discussed the lack of affordability in Madison. Frank told CT Examiner he was voting for Rasimas because he had 38 years of experience in the state Auditor’s Office and knew how to handle finances, while Democrats did not.
“He knows what needs to be done, and the other side doesn’t,” Frank said. “If they do, they’re not presenting it.”
Frank said he valued Rasimas’s honesty as he was not a career politician. Mary Ann agreed.
“We know the lies. We live the lies,” said Mary Ann. “This is a pretty decent town and everything, but there’s a lot of people here who are going to have trouble heating their houses and eating. It’s not all how it looks down here by the water.”
Rasimas brought up 8-30g, the state’s affordable housing law. He said the state did not understand that every town was different, and he was in favor of local control. The couple nodded along.
“How does the government tell you what you should do in your town? You go where you want to live or where you can afford,” Mary Ann said.
Up the street, Rasimas caught up with an unaffiliated voter, Marcy, for the third time.
“Oh my goodness,” said Rasimas as Marcy opened the front door. “You again.”
Marcy told CT Examiner that after her first time meeting Rasimas in May, she thought of questions she wanted to ask him. They were able to talk again when the two ran into each other walking on Middle Beach Road.
“John said, ‘Hey, I met with you before,’” Marcy recalled. “And he said, ‘So, you weren’t wowed?’”
Rasimas and Marcy laughed as they remembered their 30-minute walk around the neighborhood discussing local politics.
“I spent a half hour to get this vote, and I don’t even know if I have it yet,” Rasimas said.
“Oh, you do,” Marcy smiled.
Marcy said her father was a staunch Republican, but as a professor at Quinnipiac University, her views were “somewhere in between.” She told Rasimas she appreciated that she could have a frank discussion with him.
Rasimas emphasized the importance of having civil conversations despite political affiliations. He said he and his opponent, state Rep. John-Michael Parker, shook hands and had fun at a recent debate.
“People are sick of the fighting back and forth,” Rasimas said. “I’ve been very clear, and he’s been clear. We’ve kept it civil.”
Rasimas said that he pledged to keep his campaign about the issues – local control, juvenile justice, education and economics. He said he’d committed himself to the race for the last five months, and would keep going until election day.
“I can’t go into anything halfway,” Rasimas said.