The Bethel Community Gazette
The Bethel Community Gazette
Saturday, September 26, 2020 • HomeArts DiningNews AdvertiseSubscribe

Special 2018 Election Section

We asked the eight candidates for State Senate and State Representative who would like represent Bethel to share their views on a number of topics of interest to local voters, including the Economy, Education, Infrastructure, Municipal Efficiency, Public Safety, Seniors and Taxes, as well as additional legislative issues they're concerned about and any additional thoughts they'd like to share with our readers. Six campaigns responded. What follows is each candidate's answers as they provided them to us, organized by question, district and candidate.

How will you improve education?

Toni Boucher (R), Incumbant, State Senate

I am passionate about education. I believe education is what every person needs to be successful in life. A quality education for all children requires high expectations, rigorous standards and accountability. It is a social responsibility we all share. When I moved to Connecticut as an impoverished immigrant from Italy, education was my step toward opportunity and to building a new life. I worked my way through public school, college and later received my MBA from the University of Connecticut. I began my work in public service as Chair of the Wilton Board of Education and later on the State Board of Education where I chaired its important Policy Committee. It's been humbling to take my passion for education to fuel my efforts to advocate for all our children to Hartford and I am very proud that one of my children is a special education teacher in a Connecticut intercity.

I've served as ranking member and now co-chair of the General Assembly's Education Committee, where I've worked hand in hand with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to advocate for strong education throughout our state and to pass legislation to ensure our education system teaches children to accept all people and fight against hate.

As new co-chair of the General Assembly's Education Committee, I am particularly proud this past year to have finally been able to pass, after 10 years of trying, a law mandating that our schools teach children about genocide and the Holocaust. We have unfortunately witnessed examples of hate crimes right here in Ridgefield as well as surrounding towns. I maintain that teaching our children about the horrors of genocides that have occurred in history is one of the best ways to ensure that such history will not repeat.

Furthermore, education is a Connecticut Hallmark and why I first ran for public office. We must make education a top priority again and focus on early literacy. Every child should be afforded a strong start with high quality pre-kindergarten. All children, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances, will have vastly improved prospects if they can read by the end of third grade. This will also significantly improve student learning outcomes in higher grades.

We must also ensure an effective teacher in every classroom and effective leaders in every school, hold students to rigorous academic standards, and fix our broken school funding rules so that every child is funded fairly. I believe in maintaining local control and providing mandate relief. "Hope" merit based scholarships for top students.

People want their preforming schools left alone and to fix those things that are broken. The state should leave high performing schools alone and reward academically advanced students with access to higher level courses, merit based scholarships, emphasis local control, flexibility and creatively and involve parents and teachers in the process.

Education is a core function of government and an area I'll always advocate to protect and enhance. The biggest challenge for our schools is the predictability of state funding, especially special education. This year, I was able to stop Governor Malloy's $400 million pension fund charge against local education budgets and $25 million more cuts to our districts Education School funding. Because of our 18-18 tie in the Senate, we were also successful in restoring Care $ Kids preschool funding. As my father said to us "Education is everything, it is the way out of poverty and the path to freedom". I take this to heart. If returned to the Senate in 2019, I will continue to be the legislature's strongest education advocate and fighter.

Will Haskell (D), State Senate

Connecticut has some of the best teachers, curricula, and after-school programs in the country. But these opportunities are only afforded to some of our state's children. Connecticut ranks highest in the nation in reliance on local funding for education. This results in vastly unequal public schools, where a student's zip code determines the quality of their education. How can we expect our state to grow if the majority of our low-income students are reading 2 years below grade level, and approximately 85% are behind in math.

Every school is negatively impacted by the unpredictable nature of how our state government funds education. The Education Cost Sharing Formula lacks consistency, making it nearly impossible for local school boards to plan annual budgets. Efforts to reform this formula have been short-sighted and influenced by backroom deals in Hartford.

Connecticut must address the actual cost of educating a student. Massachusetts found an answer to this question in 1991, and subsequently launched momentous reforms in public education. As your State Senator I will support a comprehensive education cost study to reform our current formula with up-to-date data and analysis of towns' actual financial resources.

Michael McLachlan (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Senator McLachlan's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Julie Kushner (D), State Senate

With three children of my own who attended local public schools, I know how important it is to have strong advocates for public schools in office. I will work to fully fund our schools with resources to attract excellent teachers, keep our classrooms safe, and reduce class sizes, so that each child gets the support they need, and prevent valuable resources from going to charter schools. I also strongly believe we need to invest in universal pre-K, so that all young children go to kindergarten with the necessary foundations of learning, regardless of family wealth or opportunity.

Will Duff (R), Incumbant, State Representative

Representative Duff's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Raghib Ailee-Brennan (D), State Representative

As a proud Wildcat and graduate of Bethel Public Schools, I know the importance of a strong, quality public education system. When elected, I will prioritize fixing the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula so that Bethel receives its fair share of resources to educate our children.

I will support policies and legislation that invest in vocational tech, community colleges, and universities, and I'll fight to lower tuition and stand up for teachers.

Stephen Harding (R) , Incumbant, State Representative

It is critical that we properly fund our local education. As State Representative, I have always placed the funding of our local students at the forefront. I have put in multiple proposals regarding increasing ECS funding to our local schools and will continue to do so.

Dennis Pearson (D), State Representative

We need to make education a top priority and fully fund our schools. In order for our district to succeed, Connecticut must succeed and that starts with great education. Every town, rural community, and city must have the resources they need to properly educate our youth. We must also invest in technical high schools and trade programs in community colleges to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.

How will you improve economic conditions in our district?

Toni Boucher (R), Incumbant, State Senate

The state's struggling economy, high cost of living and slow growing jobs market combined is the biggest challenge that impacts all people in Connecticut. We need a vibrant economy that attracts employers to our state because jobs are key to high quality of life and a ladder out of poverty. To do this, Connecticut must change. For too long Connecticut has over-relied on its taxpayer's credit card and made new promises without first being able to afford core services already promised. That's hurt Connecticut's financial health and made our state unattractive to employers and families. In order to invite opportunity, we need budgets that live within the state's means, that reduce burdens on families and job creators, and that protect core services like education and transportation to make our state a place where people will want to live, work and raise a family. That also means protecting values people care about including women's rights and fighting hate crimes. The past two bipartisan budgets have shown just a taste of what we can accomplish if the state started to adopt some elements of this strategy. But we have more work ahead to improve Connecticut for today and for the next generation.

Jobs-

Connecticut has yet to recover from its job loss of the great recession. It's imperative we move towards cutting business and payroll costs, shorten the state permitting process, reduce burdensome regulations, remove the prevailing wage mandate and apply designated financial resources to road and rail improvements thus reducing commuting time.

Develop and cultivate a highly trained work force by partnering with business and aligning the educational system with skills needed by manufacturing and emerging companies in areas of advanced engineering, cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, renewable energy solar/fuel cells, STEM, medical devices and material science.

Instead of quick unsustainable solutions like a casino in Bridgeport – let's eliminate property taxes in blighted areas of our inner-cities spurring business Innovation clusters – thus creating a pro-business ecosystem of growth and real life change.

Life here has become unaffordable for residents and businesses. They are taxed beyond tolerance, moving away in droves. Unemployment in our cities is in the double digits. There are few jobs for young people and no job security for people lucky enough to be employed.

We have only regained just over 80% of jobs lost since the recession while MA has regained 300%, before GE moved there.

With diminishing disposable income, people cannot buy houses, goods, or services. We can do better with new bold leadership with the courage to move CT in a new direction.

We must restore their confidence, stability and predictably in our state! They want to be able to afford to live and work in Connecticut – to own or rent a home, raise a family, run a business, and retire here. They can't afford increased taxes on income, pensions, gas, business profits, real estate, inheritance, and gifts.

They want a job market that offers opportunity and security. They want their roads, bridges, and trains fixed before the state builds anything new. They want affordable higher education for their children. They want high-performing schools and good, good healthcare plans.

Lowering taxes would make our state attractive for people and businesses, thereby preserving and expanding Connecticut's tax base. Business creates value for everyone, because jobs are the best antidote to poverty.

A pro-business climate is possible only if leaders believe that business is good, and that profit is good.

Government should create a supportive climate for business, and then get out of the way.

The first step in reducing taxes is to cap state government spending. Other states have done this successfully, getting costs under control and ensuring the solvency of retirement and healthcare plans.

We must identify services that can be performed better and more cost efficiently by community-based nonprofits.

We must restrict borrowing to essential capital improvements and infrastructure investments, and bring debt in line with guidelines for strong agency ratings. We must spend strategically on transportation and education.

The objective of our state's leadership should be to make Connecticut once again the envy of the country for its low taxes, friendly business climate, excellent schools, and a superior quality of life and to ensure that it's a place where hard work and success are rewarded and people feel they have a future here.

Will Haskell (D), State Senate

My opponent and I agree that it's time to get Connecticut's economy back on track. We disagree, however, on the solutions. Slashing taxes with impunity might sound nice, but it will erode our ability to fund crucial state services. Instead, I want to provide the next generation of workers and businesses with opportunities to succeed.

Connecticut graduates 40,000 students every year from some of the best universities and colleges in the world. It's time to be proactive in encouraging those graduates to start their careers, families and small businesses here.

As your State Senator, I will propose a public-private student loan forgiveness program that incentivizes Connecticut's recent college graduates to stay here, while encouraging job creators and educators to work together to prepare students for high-tech jobs in the 21st century. Finally, I'll work to raise our minimum wage to $15, so that every Connecticut worker can earn a living wage.

Michael McLachlan (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Senator McLachlan's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Julie Kushner (D), State Senate

Far too many young people in the Greater Danbury area are leaving for New York. Universal Pre-K, a 15-dollar minimum wage and guaranteed paid family and medical leave for all workers are essential to improving economic conditions in our district. More people having money to spend in their communities will drive economic growth in Connecticut and out compete our neighboring states.

Will Duff (R), Incumbant, State Representative

Representative Duff's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Raghib Ailee-Brennan (D), State Representative

A strong Connecticut is rooted in a stronger economy that works for ALL. I have the professional experience and the small-business values to push for greater investment in hometown businesses. I have worked with Connecticut business owners to help them grow their companies by securing grants and loans from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. I will work to protect small businesses and increase state support for small and minority-owned businesses.

I will fight for a progressive economy where everyone has access to a well paying job and the chance at a good life for themselves and their families.

I will fight for a budget that spends wisely and brings money back from Hartford to keep our area affordable. I will work to expand workforce training opportunities (e.g., technical and vocational schools). I'll fight for a livable wage and for equality in the workplace. I believe that greater workplace diversity is a competitive business advantage for Connecticut businesses and I'll work to encourage greater diversity across all business and industry sectors.

Stephen Harding (R) , Incumbant, State Representative

We as a State need to relieve the tax burden placed on residents and businesses alike. Relieving this burden will help our local businesses invest and grow their companies. I am also committed to investing in the amazing highlights of our district such as the Downtown and train station in Bethel and Candlewood and Lillinonah Lakes in Brookfield.

Dennis Pearson (D), State Representative

In order to attract more businesses to Connecticut, we must invest in our future by investing in education, infrastructure, job-training programs, and small businesses. Improving our rail system and highways, keeping our workforce in Connecticut, and having the best education in the country will attract businesses and grow our economy. Also, investing in small businesses to help them expand operations is vital to the success of our district and state.

How will you improve the environment?

Toni Boucher (R), Incumbant, State Senate

My record on the environment is based on a set of values and not on politics. My strong environmental beliefs were developed as a farmer's daughter, born in a farm house not a hospital. I was surrounded by open space, natural water sources, fields, gardens, livestock- the good earth from birth. My top concerns are clean water, reducing the use of plastics and addressing the need for more and better mass transit options.

As an elected official it is my responsibility not only to represent your interests but to get results. I have the highest environmental score in the State Senate this year and why Connecticut League of Conservation voters endorsed me for the 26th senate race on November 6th.

My environment goals include investing in clean water infrastructure, addressing raw sewage leakage; reducing plastic pollution; promoting mass transit; electrification of all train lines; and increasing clean air with greater use of electric cars, shared solar and alternative fuels. In 2018, I received the highest Environmental Score in the Senate and have been endorsed by CT Fund for the Environment

The action that is needed includes:

Build a 40% renewable energy future by 2030 and creating new, high quality jobs; Implement a comprehensive net metering program, creating fair solar compensation for ratepayers; Expand Shared Solar access; Invest in offshore wind and energy storage; Electrify the transportation sector and accelerate adoption of clean cars; Fight new fossil fuel expansion (gas plants, pipelines, and offshore drilling); Protect energy efficiency programs that cut pollution and save residents and businesses money; Restore clean energy efficiency funds that were raided in 2017; Continue sustained investment in our Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Funds.

Long Island Sound is the ecological and cultural heart of our region—a livelihood for fishermen and oyster farmers, rich nursery for fish and birds, and source of joy for generations of families. But it's also vulnerable to pollution, habitat loss, and the effects of climate change. The Sound is an economic engine, producing at least $17 billion in economic activity that is dependent on clean water all around its shores.

Will Haskell (D), State Senate

Connecticut must revamp its strategies for the preservation of the Long Island Sound, remediation of our state's brownfields, and sourcing of renewable energy. Many of Hartford's environmental protection efforts have either failed to address these issues or failed to provide sustainable long-term plans.

As your State Senator, I will fight for the initiatives proposed in the 2018 Comprehensive Energy Strategy to reduce Connecticut's carbon footprint. I'll also support increasing renewable energy mandates for public utilities, as well as initiatives to make renewable energy solutions more socioeconomically accessible.

Michael McLachlan (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Senator McLachlan's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Julie Kushner (D), State Senate

Climate change is real, and we must take immediate steps to reduce carbon pollution and other threats to our air and water before our children and grandchildren are forced to pay the price. Locally, my family has always enjoyed the natural beauty of Candlewood Lake and I'll make its protection a top priority in the State Senate, along with passing tougher air pollution standards and investing in clean energy jobs.

Will Duff (R), Incumbant, State Representative

Representative Duff's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Raghib Ailee-Brennan (D), State Representative

As a former energy and environment policy adviser in the U.S. House of Representatives, I developed deep policy knowledge on energy and environmental issues and drafted environmental protection legislation that received bipartisan support. I also served as a lead staffer in efforts to secure Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding, and testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding environmental justice issues. You can count on me to be a vigorous defender of our public lands and I will do everything possible to preserve and protect our state's most beautiful environments.

Stephen Harding (R) , Incumbant, State Representative

I have committed to investing existing funds towards our local lakes and waterways to assist in the infestation of invasive species. Additionally, I have supported legislation which puts a vibrant focus on securing further renewable energy resources.

I have committed to investing existing funds towards our local lakes and waterways to assist in the infestation of invasive species. Additionally, I have supported legislation which puts a vibrant focus on securing further renewable energy resources.

Dennis Pearson (D), State Representative

We must strengthen our environmental protection laws and hold companies accountable who harm our environment. We must ensure we are preparing our next generation for the effects of climate change by teaching climate change education in our schools. In addition, we must build our infrastructure more resilient to withstand the effects of stronger storms due to climate change.

How will you improve public health?

Toni Boucher (R), Incumbant, State Senate

While the ACA had that laudable goal of increasing insurance coverage for individuals, it has not been able to accomplish this without significant increases in premiums for consumers. Providing coverage with individuals with pre-existing conditions is expensive, but it is something that we should do.

However, various factors including the inability of the state's health exchange to bring more insurance carriers into the marketplace has caused the price of insurance to be higher than it otherwise could be. Additionally, one of the programs that the ACA had in place to help contain costs – reinsurance – is no longer in place.

The state, in an attempt to bring healthcare costs under control could institute its own reinsurance program. The reinsurance program would provide assistance to insurance companies who insure individuals that have high costs. In helping to contain the costs of insurance companies, the hope is that premium costs would be contained for consumers. The reinsurance program would be a state-federal partnership done through the ACA's 1332 waiver program. Other states that have pursued and implemented such a program have seen positive impacts. In Minnesota, some individuals enrolled in silver level plans saw a decrease of 15% in their premiums.

Will Haskell (D), State Senate

With 21.54% of our population covered by Husky Care, Connecticut is a national leader in health insurance coverage. But there's still room for improvement. Our healthcare exchange has only two providers, leading to high premiums and lower quality care. Low and moderate income families deserve better options.

As your State Senator, I will promote the "Husky E" healthcare initiative , a sustainable public option for healthcare, and I'll fight to diversify the Connecticut health insurance exchange in order to enhance competition, reduce premiums and improve the quality of coverage. Most importantly, I'll work to ensure that the Affordable Care Act's "ten essential health benefits" are implemented in all individual and small business insurance plans.

Michael McLachlan (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Senator McLachlan's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Julie Kushner (D), State Senate

Too many people in our district struggle with healthcare costs and often lack access to affordable prescription drugs. Quality healthcare is a right, and I support a Medicare for All system that negotiates prescription drug costs to ensure that everyone can get the care they need

Will Duff (R), Incumbant, State Representative

Representative Duff's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Raghib Ailee-Brennan (D), State Representative

Everyday, I hear from families across the 2nd District that they are struggling with rising taxes, expensive insurance, and caring for family members. I support giving families, seniors and veterans the benefits they all deserve.

I will fight to pass earned paid family and medical leave, affordable, high quality care for all, lower prescription drug costs, protection for seniors' programs like the Medicare Savings Program, medical and mental health benefits for veterans.

Stephen Harding (R) , Incumbant, State Representative

We have to ensure that critical health resources such as Danbury Hospital locally can continue to provide important healthcare to our surrounding communities. We need to restructure and relieve our local hospitals from the mounting tax burden placed upon them by the State. Additionally, we need to do a far better job improving and increasing the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements in our State. Such action will assist in allowing our healthcare institutions to expand the critical services they provide.

Dennis Pearson (D), State Representative

We must make healthcare more affordable and expand access to Medicaid, and ensure that everyone has access to proper preventative care. We also need to address the social determinants of health and ensure all people have access to healthy and affordable food, water, and shelter..

How will you improve our infrastructure?

Toni Boucher (R), Incumbant, State Senate

To grow the economy and improve quality of life in Connecticut we must develop a short term plan for roads, rails, bridges and ports and a long-term strategic transportation plan that meets the needs of our businesses.

The Governor (executive branch) manages our roads and rail service and set rates and cuts or increases service delivers service so the first thing CT needs to improve is to vote in a better manager of our state DOT and DMV. The Legislature can provide the money (bonding but only the Governor can release the money) and set rules. I have also applied enough pressure to replace DMV Commissioner and Metro North President. Our tie in the senate also stopped fare hikes and reduced service on New Canaan line.

- No tolls or more gas taxes or fees by prohibiting raids on funds and prioritizing transportation projects

- Modernize rails and reduce DMV wait times

- DOT and DMV management that will provide better oversight. Audits to root out duplication, fraud and abuse (review of credit cards and fleet usage)

- Reduce administrative costs as they are 6-9 times greater than the national average.

- Fix DMV- needs total restructure

- Improve I-95 and I-84 flow by widening lanes

- Expand Ports (air and water)

- Advance alternative fuel vehicles

Rails

- Speed up and upgrade the trains -commutes are too long

- Add more trips into cities

- Light Rail- rapid transit, monorail on Branch lines

- Expand Rail Parking

- Freight on rails

- Renegotiate Metro North contract

To attract more riders to the railroads, we need to give commuters efficient service, an attractive alternative to the automobile and a good economic value for their dollars.

That is why we must work out our differences in the current Metro North contract agreement and move forward to create a mass transit system that meets the needs of a growing economy in every region of this state. Unfortunately, for some of us, this contract places a cloud over our future planning for mass transit in Connecticut.

Our state pays 65 percent of the Metro-North legal department, though we receive little use from it; our state pays 65 percent of the Metro-North police force, yet only one officer covers Connecticut; and our state pays 65 percent of many overhead cost items – some of which we receive no benefit from. In addition, Connecticut riders pay more per mile than New York riders do, producing an added burden and a negative impact on commuters and taxpayers in our state. This makes some feel that we are subsidizing New York train riders.

Will Haskell (D), State Senate

Fairfield County drivers waste 49 hours a year sitting in traffic. That's why I'm challenging an incumbent who has grown complacent as the chair of the transportation committee.

In order to attract businesses and young workers to Connecticut, we need a transportation lockbox. For too many years, legislatures have raided the Special Transportation Fund when voters weren't paying attention. If we want the next generation to stay, work, and live in Connecticut, we must make it easy to commute and travel in Connecticut.

As your State Senator I will fight for a funding lockbox for the Special Transportation Fund, and work with the Department of Transportation and provide the funding necessary to repair 300+ bridges that are currently considered structurally deficient.

Michael McLachlan (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Senator McLachlan's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Julie Kushner (D), State Senate

We need to do more to reduce traffic on I-84. According to CDOT, there is an average of one crash per day on the I-84 through Danbury, so this can't wait. By expanding public transportation, we can reduce traffic and wear and tear on local highways, as well as giving the Danbury area a vital connection to Hartford and Boston.

Will Duff (R), Incumbant, State Representative

Representative Duff's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Raghib Ailee-Brennan (D), State Representative

Deteriorating infrastructure is a national crisis and, unfortunately, Connecticut is no exception to that alarming trend. Whenever I get on I-84, I prepare for the worst. There is no reason we should spend so much time sitting in unbearable traffic just to get from point A to point B, especially when heading to work. We need efficient and effective transportation improvements.

• I will prioritize public transportation. Seniors depend on it, young people depend on it, our commuters depend on it, and it's our best chance of dealing with the congestion problems that will only get worse.

• I will advocate for critical improvements to the Danbury Branch Line, to respond to commuters' current needs and future demands.

• I will support a "lockbox" to ensure transportation funds are not diverted for other purposes.

Stephen Harding (R) , Incumbant, State Representative

I am committed to a project called "Prioritize Progress." This program places an exclusive focus in improving our transportation infrastructure. This prioritizes our bonding projects strictly towards transportation initiatives. This importantly would avoid the placement of tolls on our roadways, which would have a significant negative impact upon our local community.

Dennis Pearson (D), State Representative

Investing more in our infrastructure will bring more businesses to Connecticut, grow our tax base, and ease the flow of traffic and shorter commutes, so it is a top priority for me to make those vital investments. It is also a public safety issue because we have bridges and roads that are crumbling and in need of repair.

How will you make our municipal government more efficient?

Toni Boucher (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Last session, as a result of the Republicans earning an 18-18 tie in the Senate and a few moderate Democrats supporting our budget, the state was finally able to get some vital reforms into passed that will limit the spending binge the Democrats have embarked on for the last decade. These reforms included finally instituting an enforceable Constitutional Spending Cap and a hard cap on state borrowing. These changes were vital to finally put some restraints on our state budget‘s ever growing deficits.

Despite these reforms, there is still a lot we need to do to get our fiscal house in order. We need to accomplish this while not raising the tax burden on our residents or by enacting the hidden tax that is tolls. There are still significant savings that can be achieved in our state and a few of them include: requiring UCONN Health Center to enter into a public-private partnership – UCONN Health currently costs state taxpayers over $300K per student to operate; reduce the bailout that Gov. Malloy gave to Hartford and reorganize our state agencies to reduce redundant and duplicative functions.

We can balance our budget without tax increases by making smart decisions and growing our economy.

Will Haskell (D), State Senate

Rising mill rates and high property taxes are suffocating small towns in Connecticut, discouraging new residents from living here and harming the families that already do. By building economies of scale and consolidating high-skill municipal services like pension administration and public health, Connecticut's cities and towns will be able to reduce inefficiencies and slow the rampant growth of local property taxes.

Legislators in Hartford took the first step in encouraging municipal collaboration this session by passing SB 490, which would create a commission to review and approve certain shared services like municipal human resources or animal control departments. Unfortunately, our current State Senator, Toni Boucher, opposed the bill and voted against a more efficient municipal government. If elected, I promise to explore every avenue to reduce property taxes and make sure our local governments run more efficiently and effectively.

Michael McLachlan (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Senator McLachlan's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Julie Kushner (D), State Senate

No answer to this question was provided.

Will Duff (R), Incumbant, State Representative

Representative Duff's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Raghib Ailee-Brennan (D), State Representative

While the State Assembly doesn't have direct oversight for the various municipal governments, I believe that there are opportunities to introduce new technologies and to partner with municipalities to develop shared systems and resources. When I'm elected, I'll work closely with the municipal governments of Bethel, Redding, Danbury and Newtown to explore ways to partner and collaborate.

Stephen Harding (R) , Incumbant, State Representative

The first thing we need to do as a State related to municipal government is ensuring they are properly funded. Removing municipal funding only forces our local towns to increase property taxes upon our residents. I have always stood against municipal cuts to our local towns.

We also need to reevaluate the continuous unfunded mandates placed upon our local towns. Some of these mandates are critical and should remain. Others though have little to no positive impact and create a high burden and cost upon the municipality. I have worked and will continue to work to find these arbitrary mandates and to have them removed.

Dennis Pearson (D), State Representative

Like state government, we must analyze our municipal government to ensure we are not duplicating services and we are making the necessary investments to ensure we have the resources for our towns to succeed.

How will you restore tax exemptions for non-profits?

Toni Boucher (R), Incumbant, State Senate

The democratic majority has proposed eliminating tax exemptions for our nonprofits year after year. For the first time in 100 years the new 18-18 tie in the senate stopped these bills from being passed. If anything, the state should use nonprofits to provide social services as they are more effective, efficient and half the cost. For example, Ability Beyond Disability does a terrific job of training and employing our special needs population. The tax exemptions they receive and others should be maintained.

Will Haskell (D), State Senate

Non-profit organizations' tax-exempt status is put at risk when municipalities are desperate for funds to offset the burden of property taxes. We need to empower towns and cities to raise funds outside of the property tax, to make sure that non-profit organizations do not bear an undue burden.

Michael McLachlan (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Senator McLachlan's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Julie Kushner (D), State Senate

There are non-profits that provide essential services to our neediest residents. But, there are also large non-profit organizations that are totally disconnected from our communities. We need to make sure that tax exemptions are there to aid those that provide a valuable service to our community, while protecting against those that should be contributing more.

Will Duff (R), Incumbant, State Representative

Representative Duff's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Raghib Ailee-Brennan (D), State Representative

We know that just because an organization is considered a nonprofit and tax-exempt, that doesn't necessarily mean it's exempt from property taxes. I would be in favor of legislation that would clarify certain guidelines and requirements.

Stephen Harding (R) , Incumbant, State Representative

I am in strong favor of efforts to relieve the tax burden on everyone, including our non-profits. By properly addressing the bureaucracy in our State Government we can create the efficiencies possible to relieve the tax burden on residents, businesses, and non profits alike.

Dennis Pearson (D), State Representative

I fully support tax exemptions for non-profits. I have worked my entire career in non-profits and they provide vital services for our communities and are major contributors to our economy.

How will you improve public safety?

Toni Boucher (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Together with the Connecticut police chiefs association I have lead on protecting our youth from drug abuse. And gun violence. The Governor's early release program needs to be reformed. Those that have been convicted for homicide and sexual assault and rape are eligible for this program. Some have recommitted even the most heinous crimes. Proposals to treat 25 year olds as juveniles should be reconsidered. We also need to address the abuse taking place at the state operated facility for the criminally insane. I was one of a handful of State Senators to write the school safety and gun bill after Sandy Hook. We later passed the restraining order gun bill, Bump Stock ban and enacted higher penalties for gun threats to schools.

Will Haskell (D), State Senate

Connecticut has witnessed one of the worst gun violence tragedies in the nation's history, and must be proactive in preventing the next one. That's why I support strong and sensible gun legislation.

This past April, high school students in this district set an example for the country by leading a nationwide school walkout. Elected officials must match the passion and resolve of students by addressing gun violence head-on.

From the moment I enter office as State Senator, my top priority will be reducing access to weapons and strengthening our state's gun laws.I will support a ban on unregistered and unserialized ghost guns. No one should be able to order a weapon without a background check. Propose legislation that would limit the number of weapons an individual can buy in one transaction. When multiple handguns are purchased during a single transaction, those weapons are 64% more likely to be used in a criminal manner. Promote an additional step in obtaining a firearm eligibility certificate, which would require a signed copy of the applicant's most recent health and mental health evaluations.

Michael McLachlan (R), Incumbant, State Senate

Senator McLachlan's campaign didn't provide responses. Please see their website for their positions on local issues.

Julie Kushner (D), State Senate

We are fortunate to live in an area with a low level of crime, but we must also remain vigilant. I support efforts to expand community policing programs that allow law enforcement to connect with the people they protect and serve. It's also important to support efforts to expand recruitment of minority law enforcement officers to reflect the diversity of our community.


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