East Lyme - Though running unopposed, Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme, is taking this year's election as seriously as any other.
Up for his fifth term in the 37th House district covering East Lyme and Salem, Jutila is knocking on doors, greeting people in the street and posting lawn signs as in earlier campaigns.
His political focus remains constant with or without an opponent, Jutila said. Developing infrastructure, stimulating the economy and balancing the budget are key items on the agenda for his next term.
But this year, Jutila's not taking state campaign funds and he is handing out campaign fliers in person, rather than sending out multiple mailings.
Jutila, who holds the position of Deputy Majority Whip in the state House, is vice chairman of the Public Safety and Security Committee and a member of the commerce and transportation committees.
As a member of the Commerce Committee, one of the bills Jutila cosponsored was the "Learn Here, Live Here" bill, which provides incentives for graduating students to remain in state.
Over the next two years, he said, he will analyze and tweak legislative initiatives such as tax credits and grants to businesses for hiring new employees and veterans and low-interest loans for companies to develop infrastructure.
Jutila, who works at United Technologies Corp., is a member of the manufacturing caucus and aims to market the state's precision manufacturing industry to business leaders. He said he wants to make Connecticut a "centerpiece for precision manufacturing."
Developing transportation is part of Jutila's plan to stimulate the economy. He has advocated for a full-service Shore Line East Commuter rail to New London. He introduced a 2011 bill, which directed the Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of a commuter rail station in Niantic as a stopping point between the Old Saybrook and New London stations.
While low taxes remain important for businesses, he said, the need for highly-skilled employees and solid infrastructure are often higher on their priority list.
"Transportation is a key part of that infrastructure that businesses look for," said Jutila. Businesses want to transport materials and ensure employees can travel to work, he said.
Jutila has also raised public awareness of highway safety that resulted in improvements of on- and off-ramps. Following a major tanker accident several years ago, Jutila, along with state Sen. Andrea Stillman and former First Selectman Beth Hogan, called on the governor to improve safety on Interstate 95, he said. The state then implemented safety improvements to the ramps and added Jersey barriers.
Jutila also aims to balance the budget by eliminating government programs that prove cost-ineffective.
"We need to analyze every line in the budget," he said.
He said long House tenure helped build key relationships.
"I think that over the course of eight years I've developed those relationships, and I think I've also earned the respect of my colleagues and our leadership," he said.
Jutila said he can reach across the aisle, such as when Democrats and Republicans worked on a law imposing stricter driving rules on teens.
"No one has a monopoly on good ideas," he said.