Greg Ehlers, of Darien, has secured the Republican nomination to run against Democratic state Sen. Bob Duff in the 25th Senate District, which includes Norwalk and parts of Darien.

Ehlers is a self-described non-politician who felt compelled to run after what he views as years of mismanagement and poor leadership on the state level.

“This isn’t about national politics, but it is, in a sense. We’ve seen the size and regulations in government grow and grow. Those things have been mirrored in a lot of blue states. Our debts have soared, our business decisions have been abominable. The only thing they can tell you is better days are ahead,” Ehlers said in an interview.

Especially in a fiscal climate in which companies like General Elective are choosing to leave the state, Ehlers said his goal is not to make Connecticut perfect, but to make Connecticut competitive in drawing business.

Duff, whom Ehlers referred to as a “professional politician,” has been in office since 2005 and is the Senate majority leader. Prior to serving as a state senator, Duff was a member of the state House of Representatives from 2002 to 2005.

“I genuinely came into this because the stripes on the zebra of Bob Duff are not going to change,” Ehlers said.

Ehlers is calling for a change in the way the state does businesses, shifting focus from public sector growth.

“Our job growth has been generated by union and government jobs. We need to have private sector job growth and get the deficit under control,” he said.

Important also to Ehlers is an emphasis on education that would include ensuring the effectiveness of teachers and enable schools to fire those — even those that are tenured — that are not performing up to standards.

“We have certain districts that have great teachers that should be the model for other districts. And a lot of it comes down to teacher accountability. We need to unshackle some of the power from the unions and get better accountability,” Ehlers said.

Born in the San Francisco area, Ehlers grew up in a small town in Washington state. He studied at the University of Montana before moving to Chicago, where he worked in financial services for 14 years. He came east for work and settled in Darien in 2001. He is a cybersecurity consultant at SROcalendar and has worked for UBS, Round Table Investment Management Co. and Rareview Macro.

“Professional politicians can’t fix their own problems. And we have to get rid of the professional politicians,” Ehlers said. “I’m not a professional politician. I’m never going to be. But I’m going to be honest about what I think.”

justin.papp@scni.com; dariennewsonline.com