What Did The Candidates Say? Highlights From the State Rep/Senate Debate

There was no "Big Bird" or bayonets mentioned at this local debate, just much talk about what needs to be fixed in Hartford including creating jobs and making the state more business-friendly.


The five candidates vying for the seats of state representative in the 35th assembly district and state senator in the 33rd district came together Oct. 24 at The Morgan School to talk, discuss and debate.

The debate was sponsored and organized by the school's Political Club who posed questions to the candidates in a two-part format. No questions directly from the audience were allowed.

In alphabetical order, the candidates are:

State Representative:

John Samperi (R) and Tom Vicino (D)

State Senate:

Jim Crawford (D), Art Linares (R) and Melissa Schlag (Green Party)

Each candidate was asked questions about their stance on the environment, taxes and education, plus how they would help create jobs, how they would keep young people from leaving the state, and how they would help keep businesses in Connecticut, in addition to a general opening and closing statement.

Here are some notable quotes from each of the candidates:

John Samperi - "The way we spend money doesn't make sense. The state of Connecticut has been driven into the ground because of Democrats. We have to balance the power and truly change the way we've done business in 40 years.   We need to prepare the environment first to create jobs and this is tough because Connecticut is the worst state to start jobs. The government is in my pocket and yours if they can't balance the budget. This is no way to grow a business. I took over a bankrupt commission and cut three mills off the rate. I am a proven leader who offers no lip service. We need to change the landscape. I'm not going to Hartford to play games - I'm going there to work."

Tom Vicino - "It's about jobs and the economy. This is a critical time to keep our neighbors working. My plan is to turn tourism into a year-round destination in Clinton. When people are working, people spend money which adds to our revenue and tax base. This helps local restaurants and Bed & Breakfasts, to name a few. As a member of the Middlesex Revitalization Group I helped put $1.2 million in small loans in the hands of small businesses and helped create 3,000 jobs with the job bill. I'm a big supporter of the environment and all that goes with it including local marinas, clean water, beaches, shellfish and tourism. Anyone can tell you what they are going to do to change things in Hartford - look at my record"

Jim Crawford - "What I stand for can be found in one word: "service." My whole life has been about service. Service to my country, my career in education, work in the service industry and public service. I know what it's like to deal with the government. As state rep, I helped reduce government agencies by 30 percent. I believe education is a fundamental civil right and I want to protect aid to the municipalities so other services would not be impacted.  I am proud of the historic legacy of the Democratic Party for many things - civil rights movement, women's rights, creating a level playing field and providing opportunities to all."

Art Linares - "Every generation should have the opportunity to live a better life than the generation before. Families and businesses are balancing their budgets - so should the government. I want to improve the communication between job creators and the education system and drive down the cost of public universities. Red tape, tax increases and regulations are a burden on small businesses. Let's keep businesses in Connecticut instead of having them look to New Hampshire or South Carolina. Let's put people first before the party and work together to achieve a common goal. $59 billion in long term debt is bad when you don't have a plan to pay it back. I believe we can make Connecticut the envy of the nation."

Melissa Schlag - "You have a real choice - I am your independent voice. Let's close the loop-holes and invest in the middle class. I'm a small business owner and believe in the openness of government. We need to invest in our infrastructure. Until we fix the water and sewer issues, you won't see businesses coming to town. The two-party system has left the people behind and concentrated on special interest groups and the wealthy. If I were able to save the citizens of Haddam $900,000 working from the outside, just think what I could do from the inside."

The Morgan Political Club, founded in 2005, is composed of the following student members: Tejas Patel, Dylan Ketch, Austin Coco, Ian Barron, Kellen Murray, Justin Navarra, Catie LeMontangue, Shelby Church, Alex Swett, Travis Cochraine, Lenny Paul, Spencer Gilbert, Josh Gilbert and Mike Murray.

The 33rd Senate district is Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

The 35th state representative district is composed of Clinton, Killingworth and parts of Westbrook.

Clintonian October 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I saw Tom Vicino with clear and concise answers to some tough questions. There is no magic bullet to create jobs or help the economy, but I do like the fact that Tom has run a small business and has devoted his time to economic development in our community through the Middlesex chamber. I think that when Mr. Samperi blames one party for our fiscal problems, he forgets the 20 years of Republican Governors that preceded Dan Malloy. If Samperi is already playing partisan politics, why would we ever believe he'd be willing to work across the aisle to help his constituents.
Dave Adametz October 26, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Clintonian, it's crystal clear from the debate that the problem isn't about how to create jobs out of thin air. The problem is that we're under an administration with a fetish for government regulation over every aspect of our lives and it's suffocating new job growth. Mr. Linares himself had said several business owners have told him personally they were under threat of being fined or even shut down over issues as frivolous as how to apply decals on water pipes. Plus, it came out in Forbes magazine that Connecticut is one of the top worst financially managed states in the country. This isn't from 20 years ago; this is what's going on in the here and now, and things simply can't stay this way. John Samperi proved himself in the debate to be a leader with common sense solutions to address these issues, while his opponent didn't seem to even comprehend what's actually going on in this state. The proof is in the pudding- one person waiting for a ride home and who wasn't even planning on voting decided to kill time by watching the debate...and he's now going to vote for John Samperi. We know this because he came up to John afterwards and told him that. Voters like these are the ones who are saying who won the debate, not you or me. Reasons like this are what makes me proud to be a supporter of John Samperi's campaign to bring common sense solutions to Hartford, which is why I gladly use my real name whenever I post. What makes me curious is, why don't you?
Maggie October 26, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Clintonian...you need a lesson in government. The Governors were republican but the power was always with the democratically controlled house and senate. There is not a lot one Republican governor can do with odds like that. That is why John said we need a balance of power in Hartford. Why would he help his contituents raise your taxes? He will cross the aisle to give them a dose of common sense that is so badly needed. You are a dem, you think like one, write like one and I wouldn't hope to change your mind. No accounting for ignorance. But you do need some education on how the system works before you go all over John. If you want to keep giving your money and rights away...vote D on Nov 6th. Your choice.
Alyson Roberts October 26, 2012 at 06:28 PM
After attending the debate and really focusing on what the candidates had to say, I am even more solidified in my belief that Jim Crawford for State Senate is the right choice. He was so clear in his responses and they were based on his real life experience in our community as a teacher, small business owner and his prior role as a selectman and our current State Representative, not just an ideology that is popular to a particular base. All the candidates for State Senate were articulate, but when it was all over, I felt that Jim Crawford was the one that I could trust.
Clintonian October 26, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Mr. Samperi has never proven that he can do anything. He has proven that he can criticize the Democratic boogeyman, a position that you reiterate ad nauseum Dave. Maybe Mr. Samperi can get elected by his local constituency one single time before he gets on his soapbox and criticizes. By the way, was it common sense Mr. Samperi was using when he decided to use a racial slur in a public meeting?
Dave Adametz October 26, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Let me guess- you're David Cutler, the one who wrote that yellow journalism piece a few days ago. You do know you're the only one who cares about twelve year old misunderstandings that went nowhere, right? This is neither here nor there. It isn't "criticizing the Democrat Boogeyman" to point out the state is being financially mismanaged, and I think it's safe to say Forbes magazine isn't part of any secret Republican cabal to make the state of Connecticut look bad. It's simply pointing out the state is being financially mismanaged and regardless of what political party we belong to we can at least all agree that we need to address this problem. It isn't a "Democrat vs. Republican" issue. It's a "state government with expensive tastes vs. the taxpayers being expected to pay for them" issue. If Mr. Vicino had an actual concrete plan to address this problem I might have wound up supporting his campaign instead...but he doesn't. His own statements at the debate and even his own campaign material on his website shows he doesn't even recognize there actually is a problem. John Samperi does. This is all that the voters care about, and this is what voters are going to be keeping in mind when they vote on November 6th. If you genuinely believe bringing up twelve year old misunderstandings that went nowhere is going to make a difference to anyone after they receive their next tax increase, good luck with that.
Clintonian October 26, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I am not Mr. Cutler, but had my eyes opened by his letter. I DONT CARE HOW LONG AGO THIS WAS SAID: THESE ARE QUOTES FROM SAMPERI! "Samperi, who is white, acknowledged using "every n-word I could think of" during a heated, closed-door meeting last week with Haley, who is black. "I don't like gays and lesbians, but I don't push that agenda." YOU CANNOT WANT THIS MAN REPRESENTING YOU
ClintonFan October 26, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Mr Samperi has a history of racist and sexist remarks which have landed him in hot water over the years. This man is a loose cannon and an extremist who does not know how to play well with others, nor will he by his own words. He proved all of this in his letter to the Harbor News and at the debate. We need a representative who can get things done no matter their party affiliation. Someone who is so polariaing cannot do that! He is one frightening candidate. See the articles used as references in this earlier letter to Patch: http://clinton.patch.com/articles/cutler
ClintonFan October 26, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Pete October 26, 2012 at 11:30 PM
I wasn`t able to attend. Did Tom Vicino explain how he was going to back up this statement? "My plan is to turn tourism into a year-round destination in Clinton."
Bruce Farmer October 27, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I attended 3 debates between Art Linares,Melissa Schlag and Jim Crawford. In my opinion, Mr.Crawford has no plan for for growing jobs or the economy in our district but he did vote for the Bio-Med lab at UCONNHealthCenter which is a Massachusetts company. He says he is an environmentalist but he voted for the polluted land swap deal in Haddem. He has not voted for any incentives or tax breaks for businesses in our district especially small ones that make up 85% of all of our businesses. Voted 3 times for tax increases on the middle class. Voted for the bus route to nowhere which cost millions . Voted for the early release prisoner program which is a direct threat to our safety. The Morgan Political Club asked him how he would help to reduce the cost for college and he instead answered that not everybody should go to college and started talking about Vo-Tech education. - In prior debates he said that the private sector is doing just fine - really ? He also said that manufacturing jobs are not coming back - if he believes that he will not help us. In his closing statement, he takes time out of his closing remarks to talk about the Democratic Party and you only get 2 minutes. I am voting for ART LINARES and I can tell you that a lot of manufacturing and other small business owners who live in our district are voting for Art too because he does have a plan and he understands that you have to create jobs in order to increase revenues.
Steve Bristol October 28, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Pete You never will. If Mr. Vicino is elected, the G.A. will hear the refrain "you've obviously done your homework," the district will hear "everything is moving along perfectly," and then he'll vote EXACTLY as directed by Democrat leadership tells him to...like he always has.
VIN CIMINO November 06, 2012 at 01:30 AM
The choice for State Representative should be clear. We obviously have two completely different philosophies; Mr. Vicino talks about state aid, state grants, infusion of money by the state and state funding for programs, which amounts to the state spending more money, which leads to even greater state budget deficits and requires even higher state taxes. Mr. Samperi promises closer scrutiny of any proposed expenditure and cutting wasteful spending. I agree with Mr. Samperi that the $600 million busway from Hartford to New Britain is far too costly and doesn't make financial sense and there are countless other examples of wasteful spending by the current administration in Hartford. It's not working. It's just raising taxes and driving the state further into debt. I believe the choice is very, very clear. We must elect John Samperi and restore some common sense in Hartford.
ClintonFan November 06, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Mr. Samperi introduced himself to many of us in a local weekly paper as pro-life, pro-God and pro-gun. I do not think this what most of us are looking for at the local level. He is an extremist. I want a representative who will look out for me, my neighbor's and my town's needs, not someone spouting the far right Republican agenda. We all pay State taxes and if money is available for grants I want a representative who will try to bring it back here. If we don't get it, another town or district will. Tom Vicino will look out for our district, not work solely on a right wing agenda that is not right for our community. Mr. Samperi came off as "out there" at the debate. Please support Tom Vicino and Jim Crawford on Tuesday.
Steve Bristol November 06, 2012 at 02:38 AM
ClintonFan Whether Mr. Samperi is pro-life merely states his beliefs. Last I checked, Roe v Wade is the law of the land, no matter how one feels. As far as pro-God, since there's a small thing called the Constitution, that makes those feelings also a matter of an individual's beliefs. Finally, being pro-gun is stating support for that very same Constitution and means Mr. Samperi would fight attempts by cities such as New Haven from trying to outlaw guns...as other major cities have tried. Finally, you mention money being available for grants. Here's a link that should explain that we don't technically have money for grants...or many other things: http://www.usdebtclock.org/state-debt-clocks/state-of-connecticut-debt-clock.html Vicino won't do anything but exactly what Democrat Party leaders tell him to do. If you're such a fan of Clinton, you should already know that about him. Crawford has already proven that he is the very same way. Stop the insanity of CT's one-party stranglehold on the legislature...vote for Linares and Samperi.
Katha Pollitt November 06, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I won't vote for any politician who wants to force women to continue unwanted pregnancies. Roe may be the law of the land for now, but so-called pro-life politicians have done a lot of harm to women's reproductive rights in many states-- voted to defund planned parenthood, restrict abortions, used regulations to force clinics to close. Right now CT helps pay for low-income women's abortions with state medicaid. that's a good policy, which I'm assuming Samperi opposes. State legislatures have a LOT of power over abortion law, even if Roe stays on the books. State legislatures have succeeding in shutting down all but one clinic in MS, SD, and some other states. i don't want that to happen here. As for pro-God -- what an empty, vain, boastful thing to say.
ClintonFan November 06, 2012 at 03:20 AM
So when Mr.Samperi was impeached and removed from his position in West Haven for racist remarks due to the hiring of a black fire chief and when he received a warning in Killingworth for inappropriate sexist remarks does that mean his beliefs are racist and sexist? Trouble seems to follow Mr. Samperi. Or do his beliefs make him a loose cannon who should not be elected to public office? I do love Clinton and our neighboring towns. Mr. Vicino owns and operates a small business in Westbrook. He lives and has raised his children in Clinton where he has volunteered for boards and commissions and donated much time to community activities. There is rarely event he does not volunteer for or otherwise support. This is long before an opportunity came to run for state office and much more than the tiny stipend he receives as a selectman warrants. The reality is that Tom cares about his community and will represent our district well in Hartford.
David Cutler November 06, 2012 at 07:08 AM
Well, since I am David Cutler (and not "Clintonian" as some have theorized in previous posts), I guess it won't hurt to remind registered voters in the 35th District once again of some salient FACTS about John Samperi: In 2001, John Samperi was IN FACT impeached and removed from his position as fire commissioner in Allingtown, CT for racist remarks he made regarding the proposed hiring of a black fire chief in that town (See http://postroad.com/news/2001/20010523.west.haven.fire.allingtown.sparks.fly.html AND http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/05/nyregion/metro-briefing-connecticut-west-haven-fire-commissioner-ousted.html) Further, in 2009, Tax Collector Michele Nuhn of Killingworth did IN FACT file a formal complaint against Mr. Samperi, alleging that he made sexist comments to her and about her during a visit to town hall (See http://nhregister.com/articles/2009/08/27/news/shoreline/b3-_kisamperiharassment.txt) As is often said during campaign season, I think we should let the FACTS speak for themselves. Clearly, racism and harassment have no place in our community, or in any other. I hope that all registered voters will remember these FACTS tomorrow when casting a vote in the State Representative race for Connecticut's 35th District. I hope you will join me in voting instead for Tom Vicino, a proven, dedicated, conscientious political figure who will advance an unbiased, unprejudiced agenda in the Hartford House of Representatives.
VIN CIMINO November 06, 2012 at 11:39 AM
I knew nothing about these allegations, so I read the articles you provided limks to. It's clear from those aricles that Samperi fought the appoinment of a black fire chef, not becaue he was black, but because he felt that there were several more qualified candidates who hapened to be white. Let's tell it ike it is. Apprently, there was a lot of political pressure at the time to integrate the ranks so an outsider was brought in and Samperi was fighting for the more qualified white candidates who were being passed over. The only "racial" comment thatwas oerheard by a reporter was,""This black guy will never be chief". If "black guy" is a racial slur, and i don't believe it is, then you and I are guilty of the same offense, David. Regarding the "sexist" comment, apparently Samperi was referring to a campaign flyer and described the Democratic candidate as looking "sexy and all prettied up". Considering the many comments regarding Scott Brown and Sarah Palin and others, this complaint seems to have been primarily poltically motivated. Yes, Samperi speaks his mind and could be considered a little rough around the edges, but he is a no-nonsense type of guy who will fight for us and restore common sense in Hartford He will closely scrutininize every proposed expenditure and cut wasteful spending if we elect him to be our State Repesentative. Vicino has only one agenda; raise your taxes and spend you money.
Steve Bristol November 07, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Clinton Fan Here's another article to read that deals with your 'free money' to the district. http://radioviceonline.com/like-ive-been-saying-federal-grants-represent-one-third-of-state-revenue/ Like Mr. Cimino, I applaud people who cut through the crap and stand up to bias....such as the New Haven Firefighters. Also, if that's the extent of the Killingworth complaint, politics can be the only reason for the complaint. Mr. Cimino mentions what Palin and other Republican females have been subjected to without hesitation, I'll go one further--Bill Clinton and all his hardcore Democrat female support. I WANT someone like John Samperi in Hartford to tell those morons they're full of crap.


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