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UPDATED: Lively Debates at the ‘2018 Political Forum and Meet the Candidates Night’ Hosted by the Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors

Report by Paula Antolini
October 19, 2018, 8:03AM EDT

Updated October 23, 2018, 7:40AM EDT

 

Photo: District 26, incumbent Senator Toni Boucher (R) debates Will Haskell (D) at the 2018 Political Forum and Meet the Candidates event on Thursday, October 11, 2018, hosted by The Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors, Inc. (NFCAR). 
NEWS / STATE / GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / REAL ESTATE / EVENTS

Lively Debates at the ‘2018 Political Forum and Meet the Candidates Night’ Hosted by the Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors

The Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors, Inc. (NFCAR) hosted the 2018 Political Forum and Meet the Candidates event on Thursday, October 11, 2018, at 6:00pm in the Portuguese Cultural Center, 65 Sandpit Road in Danbury, CT.

Candidates from the following districts were invited: 2nd, 107th, 108th, 109th, 110th, 135th, 138th, and Senate districts 24th, 26th, and 30th.

A lively debate took place where the candidates were asked three questions that were provided to them in advance.

Questions covered numerous topics including the economy, taxes, tolls, transportation, education funding, the DMV, sexual harassment, term limits for elected officials, the Connecticut housing market regarding the 2008 housing crash, the state deficit, Connecticut pension plans, Connecticut state ranking, and more.

Candidates were given an opportunity to answer the questions and also respond to answers given by their opponent. At the conclusion of their debate, each candidate was given a brief opportunity to indicate to the group why they deserve to be elected to serve in our state legislature. There were also “lightning rounds” where candidates had to answer questions only with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

At the beginning and end of the Forum there was time to mix and mingle with the candidates. This was a free event open to the public.

Some of the candidates had an opportunity to debate face to face on the front of the stage, a few feet away from their opponent, where others spoke alone either because their opponent was not present or the opponent arrived later. Because of this, those candidates did not get a chance at rebuttal of their opponent’s answers but were each asked the same questions.

Questions were asked by two individuals: AJ Bernard, a 54 year member of the Board of Directors of NFCAR, and Broker at Real Estate Professionals of CT LLC, with 59 years of real estate award-winning experience.  And Jillian Mauro WLAD News Director (six months as Acting News Director), who joined WLAD in 2005 after her graduation from Hofstra University where she was a reporter for Hofstra-TV.

 

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Our local candidates’ comments

 

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Opening Statement

Senator Michael McLachlan (R) 24th District

Senator Michael McLachlan, the incumbent Senator from the 24th district, was the first candidate to speak. He began his introduction without his opponent Julie Kushner on stage because she arrived later at 7:30pm, claiming arrangements for the later arrival were pre-approved.

Senator McLachlan spoke about leadership, taxpayer burden, deficit and more and said, “Connecticut is at a fork in the road. It is so important for us in this election to have strong leadership show up at the Connecticut General Assembly next year. We have an incredible burden upon the state taxpayers and upcoming deficit that is record-breaking. We have unfunded mandates to local municipalities for public education. The state Connecticut has failed to honor promises that have been in place for many years. The next Connecticut General Assembly has a lot of hard work to do.”

McLachlan said that they’ve made some incremental changes in the past two years, and thankfully, that a tie in the Senate meant that they had the opportunity to make some long term changes to state government.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of in the last Connecticut General Assembly session, was that we finally, after 27 years, have implemented the constitutional spending cap voted for by 82% of Connecticut voters, that limits state government in how much we can spend,” McLachlan said.

 

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Opening Statement

Julie Kushner (D) 24th District

Julie Kushner, McLachlan’s opponent, had an opening statement that included a theme of “togetherness.” She said, “I’m ready for the Connecticut State Senate because I feel strongly that my commitment to strengthening the middle class and my experience of bringing people together, businesses and workers, and doing this successfully, is exactly what we need in Connecticut today.”

She continued, “Connecticut’s strength comes from our ability to work together, to come together like we did in the past. Our future requires finding creative and innovative solutions to our problems. We do have tremendous challenges, but I don’t agree with those that choose to vilify poor families, people color, and new immigrants, instead of focusing on the way that we can face those challenges together.”

Kushner stated that in office she would address long term issues like transportation, education, and affordable health care. 

“We simply can’t afford to fall behind other states,” Kushner said. “We need to elect leaders who won’t bash Connecticut, but who are committed to building on our strengths, through responsible corporations, small businesses who want to invest here, and so that Connecticut will be an even better place to work and live.”

Despite Kushner’s theme of ‘togetherness,’ at the end of her opening statement, she made a point of complaining heavily about her arrival time discrepancy, and McLachlan not debating her “on a neutral stage.” She made numerous accusations against the NFCAR, saying in part, “this is not a fair process.” Finally, shouts from the audience for her to stop, and words from the moderator, put an end to the outburst. 

 

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Opening Statement

Senator Toni Boucher (R) 26th District

Incumbent Senator Toni Boucher’s opening statement identified Connecticut’s problems and offered solutions.

Boucher said, “I recognize that as a homeowner and a taxpayer, I understand the issues that concern you because they affect me personally.”  Even the sales people of Connecticut know that less people move into Connecticut than move out, she indicated.  “It’s clear that Connecticut has become unaffordable.” 

Boucher said we need to cut costs, eliminate more taxes in order to attract and retain companies. We need to phase out the income tax by reducing costs first, we must eliminate the gift tax immediately, and phase out the social security and pension tax. This will help stop the mass exodus that is causing home values to plummet, she said. “You live that reality.”

For the first time in years we are tied in the Senate, Boucher said. “This has resulted in a bi-partisan budget based on Republican proposals.    

She said the Democrats had brushed aside ‘tax and spend’ reform for years. “Our tie vote in the Senate forced the Democrats to realize the stark reality of Connecticut’s very dire condition and that’s the only reason bill reform is now in our reach,” she said.

Boucher continued, “We can’t afford move backwards to the failed policies that’s put our state on its financial knees. He [Malloy] and his friends in the legislature think enacting more taxes is the answer. They’re in lockstep with labor, only focused on protecting and extending costly and unsustainable contracts and they proposed even higher taxes for struggling businesses.”

Boucher said that this November we must be sure that our leaders are pro-business and pro-education to bring our economy back.  “You need a candidate who’s been in the trenches and knows how to act to get things done.”

 

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Opening Statement

Will Haskell (D) 26th District

Haskell said he made a decision recently to move back to Connecticut but “Unfortunately that’s not a decision that enough people my age are making. That’s part of the problem in our economy. We do such a good job educating people in this state, close to 40,000 people … then the vast majority decides to start their careers elsewhere,” Haskell said.

“My opponent and I are very concerned that businesses are leaving but we disagree on the solutions,” Haskell said. “If you bother asking companies why they are leaving, they’ll tell you they can’t attract a young, diverse, tech-savvy workforce in Connecticut. I think in order to rebuild this economy … you have to build it from the ground up. I would support a student loan forgiveness program, because Connecticut has the highest student loan rate in the country.”

“Connecticut’s at a crossroads, and I think it is a moment of moral clarity for our country rather than panic and erode our ability to raise state revenue and erode our ability to keep schools open for five days a week and I think it’s time that we consider our values.”

“Ultimately I decided to come home because I heard President Obama and his ‘call to action.’ He said if you’re disappointed in your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  That’s what I’ve done over the last six months.

 

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Opening Statement

Representative Will Duff (R) 2nd District

Incumbent Duff said, “One of the greatest things about America is democracy and allowing debate and our First Amendment right to express our opinion, quintessential to the process.” 

“I am presently your State Representative in the 2nd District. Even though it is the second district, to me it’s the most important district.  With that being said, many of you know me because I’ve been involved in politics for nearly 30 years.  I was serving in multiple capacities, and a political activist, also on the Board of Selectman, the Board of Education, and presently on the Board of Assessment Appeals where even though there’s a Democratic majority, I was selected to be the Vice Chairman of that board. Serving here in the legislature I had the opportunity to use my years of experience as a local official and seeing that connection between how the state interacts locally.” 

Duff continued, “The one thing I’ve done in the last three decades was to continue to fight unfunded mandates that Hartford creates and sends down to the towns, which increase your property taxes, and you and realtors all know that as taxes go up a person’s ability to afford a mortgage goes down. So we need to continue to keep this in mind, always keep this in mind when we go to Hartford and start proposing bills, thinking now the town’s got to pay for it, wrong attitude to have.”

 

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Opening Statement

Raghib Allie-Brennan (D) 2nd District

Allie-Brennan said, “My campaign is focused on serving the district and being a representative for all. I will help our state budget crisis explore ways to help lower property taxes and make sure our area gets its fair share from Hartford. My family owns a small business is Connecticut and I work in my day job as a small business grant writer helping to secure small grants and loans for businesses.”

“I know that in many ways Connecticut is broken and I am ready to be the voice to help get it back on track. That means we’re here across the isle, and understanding that although I’m a registered Democrat, my job will be to represent all the people in this district,” Allie-Brennan stated.

 

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Opening Statement

Representative Stephen Harding, Jr. (R) 107th District

Harding said, “I’m the State Representative from the 107th District which encompasses my home town of Brookfield, Stony Hill and Bethel, a sliver of Danbury and … lake and cove area.  It’s been my fortunate opportunity to represent this district for the past three years. This is the community that I was raised in, I went to Brookfield schools, from Center School all the way to Brookfield High School and these are the neighbors that helped raise me. And this is the reason why I want to give back, help to fight for them and advocate for them up in Hartford.”

Harding continued, “One of the reasons I’m running is the same exact reason why I’m running today, and that is, I’ve seen my friends leave the state because they can’t find work here.  There’s to many businesses leaving the state and regulatory structure and tax structure in the state has driven a lot of companies out of the state.  That’s something I’ve worked to prevent and I want to continue to work to prevent in Hartford.”

“The second aspect is I’ve seen a lot of individuals, like my friends and others who are hitting their retirement years, my friends and their parents who love this state, love the community in which they raised all of their children, love the roots that they planted here, want to see their grandchildren be raised here in the state. But they find it more snd more difficult to afford to live here.  That’s something that I don’t want to stand for either.  A lot of it is the tax structure and the tax burden that we put upon all of the residents here in the state, and it impacts not only the 107th District but the entire state of Connecticut.”

“The last aspect as to why I do this is that it’s local,” Harding said. “These are the people that helped raise me, this is the home town that I grew up in, in Brookfield, and the common area of Bethel and Danbury, and I look at it as I have to be the fiercest advocate for the 107th District.  If I’m not fighting for the 107th District up in Hartford then no one is.  And that’s something that I’m not willing to accept because I love my home town, I love the surrounding area, and I’ll always fight for you.”

 

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Opening Statement

Daniel Pearson (D) 107th District

Pearson said, “I’m running to insure that we keep moving our state forwarded making smart investments in people and our future.  See, I was raised by a single Mom in a working family’s household and I experienced first hand what the struggles are that too many of us deal with.  And so I dedicated my life to public service.” 

“I’ve been in non-profits my whole career, working with our most vulnerable populations, working everyday to try and better the community around me, and we are not going to cut our way to prosperity,” Pearson stated. “They mentioned a couple of sites, Tennessee, North Carolina, when they cut taxes in the south they also cut services. So guess what? The south has the highest poverty rates in the country, the highest crime rates in the country … the poorest educational costs in the country. I refuse to let this state go that way an that’s why I’m running.  Investing in healthcare, education, infrastructure, and addressing the massive income inequality that is plaguing our society, and making sure that our burden from our economic recovery doesn’t fall on the backs of working families and that the wealthiest people who exploit the most out of our economy pays the fair share.”

 

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Opening Statement

Representative Adam Dunsby (R) 135th District

Dunsby said he got his start in public service in 2002 on the Easton Conservation Committee, Inland Wetlands where he would often leave his NY city job early to go back to Easton to review applications that went late into the evening. “There was a lots economic activity back then,” Dunsby said. 

“Believe or not the state of Connecticut’s economy in 2018 is about the same size as it was in 2002, not quite that bad, we’re actually the same size as we were in 2005.  Why is that? I think we can point to some policy decisions.  We still have some beautiful woods and rivers that we had, we still have our institutions of academic excellence, we have a very well educed work force, but what did we do? We made some bad policy decisions.”

 

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SOME QUESTIONS ASKED

 

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Question for McLachlan and Kushner:

“For more than a decade the state was in a legal battle over how to pay for public education, and the Superior Court judge had ruled that the cost sharing formula was irrational, but the Supreme Court declared the state had met its minimal Constitutional obligation. What educational policy should be set to fund public schools in Connecticut?”

McLachlan answered, “This is the third major law case about public education funding in the state of Connecticut, and it was initiated by Mayor Mark Boughton and then he recruited a number of other chief elected officials across the state of Connecticut to get that lawsuit going. What’s happened is we have a decision on that lawsuit which nobody can understand.  Judge Moukawsher had a very unusual opinion in that case and the legislature has an almost impossible time trying to deal with what he is demanding. Here’s the bottom line.  The state of Connecticut government has failed to honor the current funding formulas to local municipalities for education. If we just get back on track with ECS [Education Cost Sharing] funding then we are clearly on the right track and much more work to go.  I think in the next legislative session we will see a change in that regard.”

Kushner responded to the same education question as above and said: “It’s easy for me to respond to this because I have three children who went through Danbury schools and one of the reasons I moved her was because I heard about the great education that is gotten in Connecticut and I feel that that’s critically important to anything you do in the future. Investing in our kids is so important and what we have to make sure is that when funding comes to Connecticut, comes to our cities, it has to be fair, it has to be effortless, so that we make sure we are getting the necessary funds from the state that will allow us to deal with all of the, you know, really, the future of our kids. I’m totally in favor of really investing in Connecticut and education in our state.” 

 

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Question for McLachlan and Kushner:

How would you approach the massive job of repairing Connecticut’s highway and bridges? Details please.

McLachlan replied: “Here’s the answer that I have been talking about nonstop. It’s called Prioritize Progress. The Senate Republican Caucus in partnership with the House of Republicans came up with an idea that we can fully fund a billion dollars a year in transportation, infrastructure, repairs and new projects with no new taxes and with no tolls. How do you do that? You stop raiding the Special Transportation Fund for other purposes. You set aside the money in the total bonding cap, that some of the money that’s in the regular bonding bucket goes to transportation instead of it being outside of it.”

Kushner’s answer: “I suffer the same as all of you. For many years I traveled to Hartford so I know how bad the roads are. All the streets have recently been repaved so I think that’s a really serious issue.  And the good thing about fixing up roads is not only does it make it better for those of us who want to live here but more attractive.  Again it was something the I found very attractive when I first moved here 25 years ago so we need to invest in our roads and infrastructure, and it will also create great jobs with good benefits soI think that it’s very important that infrastructure be one of our top priorities.”

 

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Question for McLachlan and Kushner: 

An effort was made last legislative session to reform Connecticut’s sexual harassment regulations but was seen as onerous to the business community. What reforms, if any, should be made to sexual harassment training, statute of limitations, and related matters?  

McLachlan replied: “I think the legislature actually made some progress even within the building to address the issue and has found with the proposal that failed last legislative session that there are reasonable approaches to sexual harassment training and obligations for small businesses that are working in other states across the country that will be less burdensome than what was proposed. What was proposed couldn’t possibly work because of the cost, number one. Number two, it also was questionable if the training talked about was truly going to be successful and would it be understood, and would it be accepted by the employees as well as the employers. So I think that we made some progress and I think tat the next legislative session will see a change coming in that regard.”

Kushner replied, “I think what we’ve experienced in the last few years has been incredible.  We have seen so many people come forward about sexual violence … and I think we all realize that this is happening not just to those of us in the room here tonight but it’s happened to our children, our young daughters, and this is something we can’t live with. So finding measures that will make it possible for us to take every step to really eradicate sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, should be a top priority for our legislature, and I believe that when we do that, we’re not just helping our kids, we’re really creating a better culture for the future. I absolutely support efforts by the state to make sure that we take care of victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and that we put and end to sexual violence.” 

 

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Question for Boucher and Haskell:

“The Auditor’s report of the department of Correction Fiscal years ended July 30 2014 to 2015 shows the Corrections department refusing to turn over requested copies of contracts and other service agreements to the Auditors, contrary to attorney rulings, and did not repair the violations from the former audits. Do you think this is the only department that is operating within government for itself and by itself ? … and what would you propose?

Will Haskell answered, “I’m a Democrat, I’m proud to be a Democrat, but I’m also not endorsed by the labor unions, at least the major labor unions.  I think we do have a spending problem in the state of Connecticut.  Last year public employees got a 3% annual cost of living adjustment. … To me that looks like a rate of return not a cost of living adjustment.

To answer your question more directly, I think we need to empower others to crack down on massive state spending wherever possible.  But the reality of the matter is that they made cuts and cuts and cuts and it’s going to get really difficult going forward. Yes we need as much transparency in government as possible, that’s always a good thing. But in terms of making further cuts going forward, they’re not cutting the wasteful spending so much going forward. In fact they’re going to have to start making cuts in really valuable programs.”

Senator Boucher replied to the same question. “This is really one of the way that we can actually start to reduce our costs and really bring our taxes lower to become affordable and competitive again.  We have to do that.  And you know what? The auditors are doing a great job, it’s just on this department, the Department of Economic and Community Development, was just raked over the coals by the auditors. They found so many discrepancies, it was almost embarrassing.”

“We found problems at the DOT, where, you get a credit card for gasoline and it wasn’t matching the vehicles they were given. There’s so much that can be saved, in fraud and waste, and even duplications. They can really save our state a lot of money, and that’s what we need to do. We need better oversight that we haven’t had in the last eight years.  Just look at the DMV, just LOOK at the DMV, it’s incredible. Five million dollars for a software package and it doesn’t even work. Three and four hours that people wait. So, better oversight, better overall.”

Haskell rebuttal: “Let’s look at exactly what the Department of Corrections is spending on.  It costs $62,000 to keep a prisoner in jail and that’s far too much money and yet we have an opioid crisis where over a thousand people lost their lives last year in this state. … How about spending that money that we are currently spending on incarceration, instead on rehabilitation, and invest it in individuals to become contributing members of society once again.”

 

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Question for Boucher and Haskell:

After the shooting at Sandy Hook School, rules were made to change gun laws, bolster school security, and better respond momental health issues.  Is there more the legislature can do to improve the mental health system?

Boucher said poor budgets and service cuts are the base of the problem. “There’s much more that the legislature can do. In fact one of the big penalties of very poor budgets is that we are under-funding the state and cut a lot of services in that area which we desperately need right now.  This is one area that has been problematic for my district from day one right after Sandy Hook, in fact I was in Bethel that day when it happened.  It was a terrifying situation.”

Boucher said there was a need to get a bill to address the situation. “In that bill there was a section to address school security, a part to address mental health, and a part that actually looked at the gun laws. It was a very difficult period of time, very controversial, but we made it happen and I was very proud to be a part of that, but every aspect of the mental health issue needs more addressing.  We need to look at that further, we need to look at a number of other things.”

Haskell answered the same question and said, “There aren’t enough guidance counselors in schools and that’s a problem …  I also think we should be doing more so weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands. In this community, just so close to our homes, you saw that happened when a weapon falls into the wrong hands, and I think that unfortunately Connecticut hasn’t gone far enough in banning ghost guns. Nobody should be able to order a gun over the mail and assemble it in her own home. We should place common sense limits on how many weapons you can buy in one transaction because if you’re buying multiple handguns at once, the chance you are going to use those in a criminal manner goes up by 64%.”

“There is area for improvement, not just in mental health, but also making sure the weapons do not get into the wrong hands,” said Haskell. 

Boucher rebuttal: “One of the subcommittees was for school security… one of the areas we discussed in detail is how many school counselors should we have, mental health professionals, per student?  It is almost impossible to have one professional for 5-600 students across multiple schools.  This is a big issue, more so as the stress in our society increases the younger and younger of our children feel the stresses upon them. We actually addressed bullying too and I was part of that as well because of this very serious issue.” 

(Boucher later turned around on the stage and kindly congratulated Bob Godfrey (D-110th district) for his 30 years of service.)

 

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Question for Boucher and Haskell

The House has 151 members and each member serves 22,600+ and the Senate has 36 members and each member serves 99,280+. We know different election have different percentage of who will be voting! Averaging from a low of 15% to the presidential election around 50%. What do you think should be done to increase the public awareness to become more involved in voting and can realtors help, and how?

Haskell replied, “You are already helping.  You’re hosting this forum and have endorsed candidates, you may not have endorsed me but you’re getting people interested in the race and I think that that’s a wonderful thing. There’s so much more that needs to be done.” 

He continued, “In the last few years Connecticut has online voting and we’ve seen this huge surge in online voting, 300,000 newly registered voters in the state of Connecticut, that’s a remarkable thing …but we have to do more, it’s not nearly enough to get people to the polls.”

Haskell said, “We only have one shot to participate and this is next Tuesday … we should make it as easy as possible for people to participate.” 

Boucher replied,  “It is a sad statement to see that in presidential elections we get up  to 90% of the public to vote … and in local if we are really lucky we get 30%.”

“I would say that the realtors, specifically, have gone a long way of any organization in the state, to be advocates, to get involved, that wonderful campaign of coming up to Hartford with 5,000 … it really turned people’s heads,” said Boucher. “You are really active in your membership, and telling them how it can impact sales, which is absolutely essential.”

Boucher continued, “I do agree that we should have no-excuse absentee ballots so that people can vote anytime and it is easier, but I am concerned about other measures on the voting, the ability for it to be hacked … things can change on a dime a week before the election and you wouldn’t even be aware.”

Boucher said that in some countries election day is a national holiday, and in some countries there’s even a penalty if you don’t vote. “Think about that,” Boucher said.

Haskell rebuttal: “I don’t think we should be voting online and I’m also concerned about election security but in terms of early voting, if we’re concerned about people changing their mind then we shouldn’t have absentee voting all together.  There’s an intellectual inconsistency there. In terms of people changing their minds at the last minute, that’s because too often politician resort to these late mailers where they send out lies that can’t be rebutted at the time. I pledge not to do that.”

Boucher said, “You do? Oh my God can we shake hands?… and no push polls either?” Haskell said “no push polls,” and they shook hands.

 

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Question for Allie-Brennan and Duff

Connecticut is Ranked in national polls, more often than not, close to the BOTTOM! Regardless of who is elected governor what do you think can be done to change this problem?

Allie-Brennan answered, “Well since March I have door-knocked over 7,000 doors in the 2nd District and you know the biggest issue I hear is that the taxes are high, and they are. And I think addressing property taxes, making sure that we’re tackling the state budget crisis, that’s the big thing on anyone’s agenda and should be, and on any candidate’s agenda.”

“I think right now we’re seeing a kind of brain drain in Connecticut. We have, you know, our educated work force and our educated students are leaving.  We’re competing with Boston and New York city, and we need to make sure that we’re attracting a many people to come back. And finding ways that we can work with the schools and have them put into jobs right after thy leave college, right here in out area. And that all focuses on transportation, when people want a hub where they can hop a train, and that the Metro North runs on tine and it runs frequently.”

Allie-Brennan continued, “Right now in Bethel we want to invest in transit Oriented Development and we can’t, I mean, the train doesn’t run on time. People go to New York instead, to hop the train to go straight into Manhattan. We should be looking at electrifying and inviting in our transportation infrastructure.” 

Duff replied, “Well the first step to changing a problem is that the party that’s in power at the legislature has been in power for 40 years and has continued to pass more unfunded mandates, and increased your taxes, putting an economic situation on the backs of Connecticut citizens for he last 40 years, which has come to be unbearable, that we’ve seen so many of our neighbors move to where they have jobs and we don’t have those jobs.”

“Part of the things that we need to do in Connecticut is to take a look at that and start passing budgets with no increases, and diminish the quantity of unfunded mandates.  And again, I’ve talked about it before, I know the state can balance the budget by shifting some of the costs of the towns, but we can’t allow that to happen.  If that happens, we’ve seen what the Democrats have told you before, the last time around the budget was to cut aid to Bethel, Newtown and Redding, which are part of my district and I will continue to fight for, and we did successfully achieve getting that money back for those towns.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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Question for Duff and Allie-Brennan

What legislative measure could you propose reduce wait times at the DMV and streamline services?

Duff answered, “You talk about the red herring in the room. Yes, the Motor vehicle is a huge problem in the state, I think has been mismanaged. If we had proper management obviously the result would be different.  We were using AAA and the private entities to do the task, for example, renewing your license, they could do things like this: start outsourcing the less or medium tasks that security is not so vital, you would see much shorter lines like we used to have at the DMV.”

Allie-Brennan replied, “It’s 2018 I think it’s time we invested in some technology.  People can file papers from home and not have to go to the DMV and sit on line. You know you go in at 8am and leave after noon, and people miss work, and we shouldn’t be there. It’s 2018 and it’s time to get with the times and really look at the DMV and look at some of the efficiency there and make sure the works and that we’re doing the best we can to make sure the people in Connecticut can get in and out.” 

Duff rebuttal: “Well thank you for bringing that up, I just wanted to make sure that my opponent understands that you can go online to do many of those tasks already. It’s already in place.  If you go to the DMV they’re full of computers and people aren’t using them.  People are at home using those computers right now to renew their license, get their registrations done for their cars, but we need to do more than that.  And part of that is, put some of the tasks in outsourcing to others.”

 

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Question for Allie-Brennan and Duff

With the current status of the real estate market, REALTORS opposed any further burden on home buyers and sellers. Those burdens include

1: A Buyer’s conveyance tax

2: Any expansion to the sellers’ conveyance tax

3: A statewide property tax.

All of which were proposed in the last two years and opposed by Connecticut’s REALTORS and successfully defeated.

Where would you stand should, one or all, of these taxes be proposed again?

Allie-Brennan replied, “As I said in my opening statement I am against those taxes and I’m against any expansion of them.  I millwork with both sides of the isle to find solutions to how we can lower those taxes and make sure that things are easier for home buyers and home sellers.”

Duff responded, “Obviously many of you know who I am.  I’ve been opposed to and tried ti eliminate as many taxes as possible.  I would definitely be opposed to any expansion and I would hope to encourage my leadership and the leadership the opposing party in eliminating, and making the other taxes even smaller to make it even more convenient for the home owners and the home buyers.”

Duff stated, “The reality is Connecticut does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.  Until we get that under control we shouldn’t be trying to create more revenue. We need to focus on the spending problem we have here in Connecticut.

Allie-Brennan rebuttal: “I think it’s easy for some people to say we have a spending problem but they can barely offer you where they would cut, an we haven’t heard, Mr. Duff, where would you cut? I think we should invest more in looking the revenue streams, we should look at the Department of Corrections and prisons.  The crime rate is lowering and the prison rate is lowering, why are we spending $1.3 billion in Connecticut? That’s a place we should look at. We should look at inefficiencies, cutting inefficiencies.  And then revenue streams of off-track betting, that’s something there we should work with … to get some revenue out of that.”

                                                                                                                                                          *****

Some other questions asked:

 

*****

We’ve seen the effect of non cooperation leading to a lack of progress on the Federal and State level! That clearly shows the need for bipartisanship. What will you do to insure a spirit of cooperation across the aisle?

*****

Developers criticize Connecticut for having a permit and approval process that makes building more difficult. Example is a project on Mill Plain Rd in Danbury waiting for years for final state approval!

Do you have any thought on streamlining the process for development projects?

*****

REALTORS have a saying you may have hear before: “We sell Connecticut! Give us a Connecticut we can sell” What do you take this saying to mean, and how do we get there?

 *****

How would you reduce the state deficit? Please be specific.

*****

The Connecticut housing market has not fully recovered from the 2008 housing crash. From your point of view, Why is that and what do you think Hartford can do about it?

 *****

Payments made by Connecticut pension plans have doubled. However the pension fund is still way underfunded.  If you were to submit a bill to correct this problem what would it include?

 *****

How would you approach the massive job of repairing Connecticut’s highway and bridges? Details please.

*****

Connecticut is Ranked in national polls, more often than not, close to the BOTTOM! Regardless of who is elected governor what do you think can be done to change this problem?

*****

Home prices have not risen sharply, taxes have! Home buyers face ever-growing challenges to find and buy affordable entry-level homes. The economics of inefficient government at the state and local level keep raising taxes to meet costs for services & election promises. The largest recurring cost to our local tax payers is our state setting & enforcing unfunded mandates. Example schools, a mandate with or without a short term grant ,then forever after a burden on the local taxpayer. What will be your plan to help the towns and cities of Connecticut?

 

*****

Lighting round Questions

1: Would you support a bill to rise the state income tax?

2: Do you believe in term limits for elected officials?

3: Do you support highway tolls for Connecticut?

4: Do you have A Realtor team working with you on private property rights?

*****

Government employees are the biggest single expense to State government & growing! How can we service the population and keep the cost in check?

                                                                                                                                                          

*****

VIEW MORE PHOTOS OF THE EVENT BELOW:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Editor note: Apologies to candidates we did not fully feature in this article, we had a computer meltdown and lost some data. 

 

*****

CANDIDATES:

* did not attend forum

 

2nd: Bethel, Danbury, Redding / Will Duff (R), Raghib Allie-Brennan (D)

Will Duff (R)  

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

Raghib Allie-Brennan (D)

 CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

107th: Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury / Stephen Harding (R), Daniel Pearson (D)

Stephen Harding, Jr.

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Daniel Pearson (D)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

108th: Danbury, New Fairfield / Richard Smith (R)

*Richard A. Smith (R)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

109th: Danbury / David Arconti, Jr. (D), Veasna Roeun (R)

David Arconti, Jr. (D)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

Veasna Roeun (R)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

110th: Danbury/  Bob Godfrey (D), Erin Domenech (R)

*Erin Domenech (R)

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Bob Godfrey (D)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

135th: Redding / Adam Dunsby (R), Anne Hughes (D)

Adam Dunsby (R)

CLICK HERE FIR MORE INFORMATION

 

*Anne Hughes (D)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

138th: Danbury, New Fairfield / Michael Ferguson (R), Kenneth Gucker (D)

Michael Ferguson (R)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

 

Kenneth Gucker (D)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

Senate

24th: Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield / Michael McLachlan (R), Julie Kushner (D)

Michael McLachlan (R)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

Julie Kushner (D)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

26th: Bethel, Redding / Toni Boucher (R), Will Haskell (D)

Toni Boucher (R)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

 

Will Haskell (D)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

30th: Brookfield / Craig Miner (R), David Lawson (D)

Craig Miner (R)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*David Lawson (D)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

*****

Northern Fairfield County Association of REALTORS, Inc. (NFCAR)
15 Stony Hill Rd
Bethel, Connecticut
203-744-7255
website
About:
NFCAR is a 501 (c)(6) organization made up of more than 700 REALTOR and affiliate members covering Northern Fairfield and Lower Litchfield counties ready to serve buyers, sellers and the public. Thanks to volunteer leadership, committee members, and staff, NFCAR helps Realtors® so Realtors® can help their customers and clients.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT: The purpose of the Northern Fairfield County Association of REALTORS®, Inc. is to serve its members by providing programs and services that will enhance their competency, professionalism, and productivity; to promote and enforce ethical standards; advocate for real estate issues, and enhance the REALTOR® image.
OUR GOAL & VISION; Our goal is to be a resource center for our members and the community they serve. We want to become more involved within the community, informing the public of our services in conjunction with providing value to the community and helping to establish Northern Fairfield County as an attractive, sought after community in which to live
Our Vision is for our members to achieve a higher level of professionalism by encouraging them to have a more active role within the community and the association.
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