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:
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.