Darryl Rouson: "From the crack house to the floor of the House."

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What initiatives can your constituents expect from you?

Housing is very important to me — affordable housing, workforce housing. As a member of the Tax and Budget Reform Commission, I put forth a proposal that I wanted to become a constitutional amendment to be put on the ballot but it came as a statutory recommendation ... I want to create more affordable housing. I want to free the funds and scrap the cap of the Sadowski Fund. Stop the charade and free up the money so police, teachers, firemen, nurses can afford to live where they work.

Secondly, I want to deal with some safety issues in neighborhoods by bringing in economic development and bringing in jobs to areas.

Also, I'm concerned about transportation. We need to cut congestion down in certain areas of our highways and byways. We need to look to commuter rail and light rail systems, and be prepared for the future when it comes to transportation.

Also, very important to me are property taxes. I was the first commissioner to jump on the proposal that dealt with the sales tax swap. I want to immediately reduce people's property taxes by getting rid of the required local effort that goes to fund schools, change the way we fund schools as a way of reducing property taxes, but still holding school budgets harmless. So I will work hard toward things that will continue to reduce our property taxes.

Insurance reform. There's no great love with insurance companies, it is a necessary component of a civilized society, but we have to find ways to bring down homeowners insurance rates and premiums. The energy crisis. All of these things are very personal and meaningful to me.

The people can expect should I be elected that I will be a viable and vocal force when it comes to these issues. I want to bring practical solutions to current problems. I want to address issues without bureaucracy and the morass of administrative complexity, but look straight to the heart of what needs to be done and try to get it done.

You're a fairly connected guy. But sometimes that can be a double-edged sword. Some critics of your campaign could say that means you won't see the needs of average citizens.

First of all, those who are not so connected are the ones who try to use my connectedness against me.

But the fact of the matter is, should someone get in this seat, they will have to be connected also in order to get something done. The numbers aren't there otherwise. It's a Republican senate. It's a Republican house. It's a Republican governor. Therefore, you must have relationships across the aisle; you must be post-partisan in some of your dealings in order to get some major things accomplished. I think I can do that without selling my soul. So I don't see it as a liability.

If you concentrate on the label of a man, you'll miss the heart of a man. I have been consistent and constant on the principles I have stood for and the things I have fought.

Did you switch parties for political expediency or a change in your values?

My values have remained constant and consistent for the last 20 years. The ones who are most harping about the political party change are those who feel the most threatened by it. And that is my opponent. No one in the Democratic Party is angry or criticizing the 50,000 change in registrations that's been occurring over the last several years. In fact, the Democrats are celebrating that, for the first time in 50 years, because of the influx of new registrations of Democrats, we now lead in party affiliation in this county. So, to me it's a little disingenuous to try and attack me only on that.

Also, political parties such as the Republican Party have always made a big whoop-tee-doo out of a Democrat switching to Republican. I think, to some extent, us Democrats need to do the same thing when someone switches from Republican to Democrat. But here to forward, we haven't done it like that. But we ought to find ways of welcoming people home. We are the "big tent."

You recently put up $10,000 of your own money for the 50-50-50 Challenge that is raising money for summer jobs for youth. Why is this important to you?

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