By Foster Steinbeck
Harry Arora is Serving His Constituents
In his first six months as a state legislator, H.D. 151 Rep. Harry Arora didn’t spend all that much time legislating. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, he spent the majority of his time helping Greenwich’s residents access unemployment benefits and addressing residents’ problems with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“The big [lesson] I learned is you have to be willing to serve what our constituents and residents need, not highflying ideas of what we think long term growth is going to look like,” Arora said.
“A lot of people do not have the luxury to look 10 years out when you have COVID or when you have short term challenges,” he added. “If you do not work on what’s on the resident’s mind right now, and let that be, then you do not have the mandate to work on long-term ideas.”
Following former incumbent Fred Camillo’s resignation in late November, Harry Arora assumed office after winning January’s special election to represent the district.
In his second election this year, his vision hasn’t changed. To promote growth and opportunities, Arora wants to make the government more efficient, attract more business investment and make families want to stay in Connecticut.
“The goal is not a specific law,” Arora said. “The goal is [to create] much more opportunity … [The goal] is making sure everybody gets the ability to live the same dream or the opportunity to have the same dream I had. I came from nothing, and now I am very comfortable, and I feel blessed.”
To better incentivize parents to stay in Greenwich, Arora said he will fight to increase funding to the county’s public schools. Funding is allocated to school districts by the state’s Education Cost Sharing Grant, which is based heavily on a district’s financial need.
Arora criticized the current formula as “unfair” because Greenwich pays a large portion of the state income taxes.
Arora wants to promote growth he said to solve the state’s problem with unfunded pension liabilities. The state’s pension system is underfunded, as it is still paying off assets from decades ago, forcing the state to channel more money to fulfilling its pension payments, leaving less money to fund other projects and initiatives.
To promote growth, Arora wants to cut excessive government regulation, he said. In Arora’s estimation, Connecticut has too many government regulations on the books.
“It’s not that we don’t want regulation. We want appropriate regulation,” Arora said. “We cannot just overregulate things. What happens is it creates bottlenecks and it creates hurdles for businesses.”
Arora wants also he said to cut regulations and waste government spending to make the state government more efficient. He would thus push to repeal the state’s new payroll tax which was added to finance the state’s family and medical leave trust fund. Funding for such government programs, he said, can be found by making state governmental departments more efficient.
Arora also called for investing in transportation more effectively, by channeling more funds into the Metro-North Railroad and Greenwich’s local transit system. He called for creating policies that will create more private-sector incentives to protect the environment.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, Arora was developing two bills in the state legislature. One was aimed at developing higher-education scholarships for middle-class students to attend in-state institutions, funded by private donations in exchange for tax incentives. The other was aimed at reducing energy subsidies – which raise consumer prices, Arora said — by developing utility-scale solar energy using private capital.
Earlier this year, Arora worked with state officials to adjust the governor’s executive order to better suit intellectual or developmental disability people and their families. The order prohibited family members to accompany their sick to hospitals, which was extremely difficult for individuals with an IDD and their families.
To Arora, the notion that serving as a state representative is too small of a job is not true.
“In a sense it’s personal,” Arora said. “Being a state representative is one of the best ways to serve. It’s because you get to know everyone. You talk with them, you communicate with them. You know where you are. They know how you think. It’s just as real as it gets.”
Prominent Greenwich Community Member Allision “Icy” Frantz first met Arora when he was running for the U.S. House of Representatives against now-Incumbent Rep. Jim Hines. Inspired by his passion, Frantz said she later made phone calls and knocked on doors to support his campaign in the special election.
Frantz said she loves Arora’s ability to listen, citing his virtual roundtables to discuss issues and his concerns for his constituents. “It would be hard to consider Harry without mentioning a few words about [his wife] Nisha,” she said. “Nisha is smart and a real force. They make a wonderful team. To be successful in Hartford, it is critical to have your family behind you.”
Subhead No. 2
Arora was born in Gujarat, India, as the second of two kids in December, 1969. He later enrolled in the Delhi College of Engineering, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering in 1987. In 1993, Arora immigrated to America and began his graduate studies in finance at the University of Texas at Austin.
Arora started his finance career at the soon-to-be energy company titan, Enron Corp. in 1995, later working his way up to an executive management position.
After Enron collapsed in late 2001 – as a result of accounting fraud and corruption at the highest level, the company filed for bankruptcy, with over $60 billion in assets. Arora lost a substantial sum of money as Enron couldn’t pay out his deferred payments.
Wanting more opportunity, Arora and his wife relocated to Stamford in 2002 and began working for another energy trading company in Greenwich. He founded ARCIM Advisors in 2006, an investment management firm and moved into Greenwich in 2010.
“When you lose your job and your savings, you try to get the new job and move,” Arora said. “This is where the opportunity was, and I really thought it was a great place to settle down. It’s a great community.”
He later earned a master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard in 2018. The same year, while running for U.S. Congress, Arora met Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo for the first time. Camillo said Arora has done a terrific job filling his previous office.
“I think he’s very responsive as a state representative,” Camillo said. “He loves public service. He really is the American Dream success story … now he’s giving back, that’s American.”
Despite the problems facing the state government or in his personal life, Arora said he likes to have an optimistic outlook on matters.
“We can solve these problems. People say, ‘Oh, the country is going really bad’ and so on and so forth,” Arora said. “My viewpoint is ‘No, we’re the greatest country on Earth.’ We solve problems, and that’s the way I think about it”