At the age of 50, Lisa Wilson-Foley, who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, feels like her life has come full circle.
Having raised a family and opened several businesses it was time for her to get back into politics—a path she thought she’d take shortly after graduating college. Turns out life had different plans.
After spending a week interning in Washington D.C. for the Republican Party Wilson-Foley had a death in her family and returned home to Connecticut to go into the health care field. First becoming a nursing home administrator, then opening up a health care marketing business, which evolved into her own physical therapy business.
With a degree from the Yale School of Public Health, Wilson-Foley, took some time off to raise her family before buying a miniature golf course, bowling alley, golf course, ice cream parlor, and her latest, a spa and rehabilitation center.
Apple Spa and Rehabilitation Center, her newest business, is located in the same plaza as her campaign headquarters in Avon. It opened in June.
“I’ve done really well in Connecticut,“ Wilson-Foley said. “I feel like I can give back something at this point in my life. My kids are good, my businesses are good, and the state is not good.”
Running for an office with a $535,000 budget, Wilson-Foley said she believes leadership starts at the top. As a businesswoman she doesn’t take a raise if she’s not giving her employees a raise and she believes that same thinking should be applied to government.
Wilson-Foley, who has never run for public office before now, thinks she can cut the lieutenant governor’s budget in half and still serve the taxpayers.
“There are a lot of agencies and departments that may not be needed, but we’ve kept them around,” Wilson-Foley said. “It’s like the watchmaker. We don’t need watchmakers, so do we keep them in a job that’s not needed or do we transition them to cellphone operator or cellphone technician.”
She said her goal in running for office is to bring more business strategy to government. “Taxpayers are customers in a way and we want to make sure they’re happy,” Wilson-Foley said.
Asked if Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, has done a good job, Wilson-Foley said “it’s hard to tell.” She said the reason she says that is she’s very outcome based. “If I was looking at an outcome, I asked myself did we increase jobs? It has to be done with more accountability.”
After a few years, if she felt she was marginalized in the office or it wasn’t needed she would suggest eliminating it, but at the moment she’s not sure that’s the appropriate thing to do.
A self-described hands-on entrepreneur, Wilson-Foley said she just wants to get elected and get her hands into it, just like she did when she purchased Blue Fox Walk Mini Golf on Route 10 in Simsbury.
Wilson-Foley took her children to play miniature golf there one day and as she looked around at the slightly dilapidated family entertainment venue she immediately thought to herself, “I can do this better.” Then she saw a sign that said “For Sale.“ She said she called the elderly owner the next day to let the him know she was interested in buying it.
She’s owned the venue now since 1990. She shared a similar story about Apple Spa and Rehabilitation Center. She used to be a customer at the spa, which went by a different name at the time, and walked out thinking she could do a better job.
Wilson-Foley wants to do the same with government. She said things were going well about 10 years ago, but in the past year she’s noticed taxes going up and electricity bills going up and felt compelled to try and do something about it.
Asked if she had a solution for what is expected to be one of the biggest budget deficits in the states history, Wilson-Foley said she’s not the most innovative person, but she knows how to listen and implement those suggestions both from the taxpayers and the state employees.
“It’s difficult to articulate how I’d make it happen…but I know how to get it done,” Wilson-Foley said. “I’m not always the one with the idea, but I know when I hear a good idea and I go ‘Wow that’s a good idea’.”
In her two physical, occupational and speech therapy businesses, Wilson-Foley said on occasion she’s had an opportunity to interact with the state Department of Social Services. “Wow those people know how to solve the problems,“ Wilson-Foley said. “I think it’s so bureaucratic in a way that it’s hard to get out from under what you’ve done everyday.”
As an entrepreneur Wilson-Foley thinks she may come at problems a little bit differently than her opponent, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who served as state representative for three years before serving five terms as the Hat City’s mayor.
“I just want to get my hands into and see if a different set of skills could make some changes,” Wilson-Foley said.
Wilson-Foley said she wouldn’t waste any time getting her hands dirty because she doesn’t imagine she would be lieutenant governor for any more than one four-year term. She said it might not be the end of her government career, but she would limit herself to one term if elected lieutenant governor.
Painting herself as an outsider candidate Wilson-Foley has raised about $63,000. In addition to raising money she has put her money where her mouth is and donated $140,000 to her own campaign.
She isn’t using the public campaign finance system like her opponent and has already run $25,000 worth of television ads to introduce herself to voters.
According to Wilson-Foley’s recent filings with the state she’s paid her friend and former news anchor Janet Peckinpaugh, who is also running for her first elected office in the Second Congressional District, about $21,690 in consulting fees.
She also paid a Virginia firm $2,500 to do some opposition research. Most of the money has gone to campaign staffers helping her make calls to voters.