DARIEN — If you hear a knock on your door, there’s a good chance it could be Randy Klein.

The 26-year Darien resident is running for state representative against incumbent Terrie Wood, who’s held the office since 2009. If elected, he would be the first Democrat to hold the office since the 1970’s.

Klein is eager for the role and wants to hear what people have to say. So, he’s been going around, knocking on what he estimates to be about 3,700 doors, in order to hear what people want fixed.

“The experience that you get at somebody’s door is very different from anywhere else, because it’s their door and they’ll really engage you and tell you what they think,” Klein said. “It’s very rewarding. I didn’t want to do this unless I had that opportunity to hear what people were thinking. I had a pretty good idea of my thoughts. But how was I supposed to represent people if I didn’t have any idea what was on their minds?”

Klein said this experience gave him the opportunity to hear what people want changed. And so far, it seems like they just want change itself.

“I would say the things that have come across to me loud and clear overwhelmingly are number one: thanks for doing this. It shows you want the job. Secondly is that people understand that regardless of what issue or piece of legislation that you’re dealing with, you’re never going to get one hundred percent of what it may be. But what they don’t like is gridlock.”

That’s why Klein’s goal is figuring out how we “get to yes.” Klein is used to getting to yes as a small business owner. He’s run his company, Drivers Unlimited, for the past 36 years.

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“If I wasn’t able to come to agreement and compromise with customers, vendors, employees, I’d be out of business in three months, never mind 36 years,” he said. “You’re constantly doing that. I’m sure in an hour when I get to work I’ll be doing that. It relates back to what I’m hearing from folks that's so important to them. That’s what’s at the core of their frustration. Solve the problem, move on, because in an hour, there’s another problem that needs a solution.”

After listening to his constituents, Klein said he’s focused on finding solutions to statewide problems like the budget, education and transportation, among other things. He’s also looking to bring business back to Connecticut.

Transportation is an area of expertise for Klein, having experience running a limousine and driver service. He said that as a major passageway between Boston and New York, Connecticut needs to improve the traffic situation.

“Is there one cure to that? Absolutely not. Is adding another lane onto I-95 a cure? I’m not so sure,” he said. “But what I am sure of, it has to be a multi-faceted approach whether it’s improving roadways, exits, entrances, lanes, Metro-North or buses.”

Klein is also looking to improve the state’s education situation through a multi-faceted approach. He wants to offer scholarships to state schools for high-performing high school students with an ultimate goal of making community college free. He also wants to work with vocational and technical schools to make sure what students are studying aligns with what skills are needed on the current job market.

“There’s a disconnect,” he said. “Kids are graduating with these degrees and they find that they’re not transferrable to the job market. There’s got to be much more of a dialogue between kids, teachers, the boards of these colleges and universities along with government and private and public sector businesses, so there’s a marriage here and that these kids have the opportunity to take those courses, graduate and get a job cause at the end of the day that’s what they’re looking for.”

Klein hopes this and exempting recent graduates from state income tax to help with their loans will help keep more students in state. He also hopes to step up the economic situation of the state to make sure more businesses stay.

“Like I run my small business, we have to have the same kind of mindset where every nickel is important, every dollar has to be working for us, any excess weight has to be cut,” Klein said. “We have to limit the size and scope of state government and this will reduce costs and limit economic deficiencies. We should be capping the governor’s bonding authority on non-economic development related projects. We have to ensure that all of our union contracts are in line with the state’s new economic reality.”

Klein also said the state needs to focus on property tax and pension reform, as well as reinvesting in small towns and cities. But whatever the solutions to these problems may be, Klein said that as a longtime business owner and community member, he’s heard what people want and is ready to listen to them to fix it.

“I have been Democratic Town Committee chairman in Darien for three-plus years and I’ve worked on a lot of campaigns in the 10 to 15 years prior to that, so I was kind of on the other side of the operation,” Klein said. “I decided after hearing this constant barrage of negativity and finger pointing and not getting to yes that you know what? There’s an opp here for stepping up and trying to be part of a solution-oriented agenda rather than one that is not. It’s what I do every day and I thought perhaps my background and skill set would lend itself to that. And we’ll see.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata