I chose a career in public service as a firefighter because I care about people and wanted to be a part of making my community a better place to live. It's for these same reasons that I'm running for office. I have the knowledge, experience, passion for service, and savvy needed to deliver real results for the constituents of Fairfield-Southport, to make a meaningful difference in people's lives.

I have a diverse background of professional skills and experience from both the private and public sectors that give me a unique perspective on how to approach and solve the issues facing our state. I began my professional career as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate, where I drafted international trade legislation for a U.S. senator. After earning a master's degree in business, I spent the next 15 years in the world of international finance, focused on developed and developing countries' economies and debt management. Through my experience both abroad and at home, I learned what it means to balance government budgets, keep debt at manageable levels, and make fiscally responsible investment decisions. I currently work as a career firefighter, where I've acquired a stronger-than-ever commitment to service and to my community.

We have serious problems, and we need serious, innovative people to solve them. A large number of Fairfield residents rely on Metro-North daily to commute to work. We need to make sure we invest in our rail infrastructure in order to ensure the safe and effective commute of our residents, as well as to attract new businesses to the area. As your state representative, I vow to fully fund our rail and road infrastructure in smart, fiscally responsible ways in order to get Connecticut back on track.

If elected, I would champion establishment of a state-sponsored student loan program for college-bound Connecticut residents that would include loan forgiveness incentives for those who return to Connecticut after graduating to work in a science, technology, engineering or math field. We can fund this program by eliminating outdated and ineffective tax credits. Our younger population is moving out of the state in droves, and our economy is suffering because of it. We need to bring them back to Connecticut.

We need to teach to standards that make sense, while allowing our educators the flexibility needed to exercise the art of teaching, and empower them to make decisions about how to teach their classes.

In order to conquer our financial challenges, we need to systematically reduce waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars through a review of current laws and regulations by a non-partisan entity. We should do away with ineffective or outdated expenditures, and we need to consider reducing and consolidating the many departments within our state government. We also need to make doing small business easier, and get rid of outdated and unnecessary regulations, fees, and property taxes imposed on machinery and items used to conduct daily business.

Our residents are plagued by high property taxes that often wildly fluctuate year to year. Let's implement a 4 percent annual property tax cap based on the Connecticut Consumer Price Index. We also need to make sure that the state is living up to its obligations and mandates to fund our local schools, so that we don't have to rely solely on soaring property tax revenue to provide our students with a quality education.

I am and always will be a proponent of early voting. We have a huge commuter population in Fairfield and Southport, individuals who work long hours, leave early in the morning, and often don't come home until later in the evening. These individuals, and many more, must be afforded every opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote. We need to expand the right to vote in order to ensure that all of those who are eligible to vote get the chance to.

I have innovative ideas that will produce real results for Fairfield-Southport, results that will encourage business growth, address the state of our road, rail, and technology infrastructures, and the financial burdens that our families and state face daily. Innovation doesn't mean just saying no, innovation means finding alternatives to proposals with which you disagree. Innovation means reaching across the aisle to make compromises, and build bridges for the betterment of the state.

If you're looking for a fresh perspective, and an independent voice, I encourage you to consider supporting me on Tuesday, Nov. 4, to become your next state representative.

Kevin Coyner is the Democratic nominee for state representative in the 132nd District.