July 18, 2018

Obsitnik wants to be 'COO of Connecticut'

Photo | New Haven Biz
Photo | New Haven Biz
Steve Obsitnik.

It was a promising pairing — a young(ish), dynamic tech CEO and job-creator and a chamber of commerce audience eager for some red meat from a Republican Party candidate for governor.

Steve Obsitnik met with the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Wednesday morning as part of the business group's candidates forum series leading up to Connecticut's August 14 gubernatorial primary.

"This election is about makers versus takers," Obsitnik told some 60 business leaders at the chamber breakfast. "I am a proven maker of companies and jobs. I am running because I want to be chief operating officer of the state of Connecticut."

With a promise to "Reinvent Connecticut," Obsitnik's platform is focused on economic growth and job creation. The centerpiece of the plan is the creation of 300,000 new jobs in the state within eight years. "Connecticut has created 5,600 net new jobs since I graduated college," said the Westport Republican, who holds a degree in electrical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from the Wharton School. "Texas creates 200,000 jobs a year."

Obsitnik's plan to reinvigorate the state's economy is predicated on fiscal stability and economic growth. In addition to an ambitious job-creation target, he pledged to make state government smaller and more efficient. "Connecticut needs to take a big, fat Lipitor to get the [fiscal] cholesterol out of its system," Obsitnik told the business group.

He also pledged to make Connecticut more affordable, especially for young people who are presently leaving the state in large numbers in pursuit of brighter career prospects, but also for seniors fleeing the state's heavy tax burden following retirement.

Obsitnik's professional background is in engineering and entrepreneurship. His résumé includes stints with California research-and-development firm SRI International, Sarnoff Corp. and as CEO of Quintel, which develops wireless infrastructure to mobile operators.

His only experience running for elective office came in 2012, when he ran for Congress in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District. He was defeated by Greenwich Democrat Jim Himes.

On June 27, the State Elections Enforcement Commission opened an investigation into whether Obsitnik's campaign improperly raised campaign contributions in order to qualify for public financing.

In the August 14 primary election, Obsitnik faces Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and businessmen Bob Stefanowski and David Stemerman.

The next GNHCC candidates forum takes place Friday when Democratic candidate Ned Lamont of Greenwich addresses the business group.

Reach Michael C. Bingham at mbingham@newhavenbiz.com

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