Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Candidate forum at town hall - Senate candidates
Tonight's League of Woman Voters forum for candidates for state office took place at Middletown City Hall this evening. And while there was some agreement on important issues, like the economy, and some disagreement on methods and strategies for handling those issues, there were only a few sparks.
All candidates agreed that national economic problems, filtered down to the state and city, will be the biggest problem the legislature will handle in the next session
Below are candidate responses, by contest, beginning with the comments of incumbents.
Connecticut State Senate Candidates
Paul Doyle (D) - 9th district - incumbent
Doyle believe that the state needs to help municipalities with state aid, seek to increase energy efficiencies, and spark job growth in energy and green industries. Budget cuts must be made with a scalpel and not a axe. Doyle suggest looking at state agencies for efficiencies, including a close look at the Department of Social Services.
Doyle opposes a Constitutional Convention suggesting that it will lead to chaos, and inhibit useful legislation.
Doyle encouraged the use of CHFA and CHET, programs already in existence to extend student loans.
Healthcare is a national issue, that Doyle hopes the election of Barack Obama will help solve, but he blamed Governor Rell for blocking a bill sponsored by Democratic legislators to allow small businesses and individuals to enroll in the state health insurance program.
On the status of the Connecticut Juvenile Detention Center in Middletown, Doyle blamed the governor for claiming that she would close the center, and then refusing to do so. He is against expansion of programs at the Center.
In closing, Doyle indicated that the most pressing issues facing legislators would be budget, economy and alternative energy solutions. He also suggested that transit issues cannot be handled by municipalities alone and need state assistance. He ended with a plea for a cleaner campaign, indicating that his opponent had resorted to smears instead of dealing with issues.
Ralph Capenera (R) - 9th district challenger
Capenera favors no increase in taxes and absolute 3% cap for property taxes. He believes in a consolidation of state services, and a restriction on benefits for legislators, who are part-time employees.
Capenera favors a Constitutional Convention which, he says, "will put power back in the hands of people."
Capenera suggested low income housing loans for students after graduation to keep them in Connecticut.
Capenera agreed with Rell's veto of the state health insurance plan, and claimed that the plan broke down as a result of warnings from the state's insurer, Anthem, that rates would be raised considerably if the contract was extended to all state residents.
Capenera is also against expansion of the Connecticut Juvenile Detention Center, and emphasized that Middletown has more than its share of off-the-tax-rolls, state facilities.
Capenera vowed not to raise taxes, to enforce a 3% property tax cap and to reduce spending across the board. In answering his opponent's charge that Capenera was running a dirty campaign, he said that targeting an opponent's record did not constitute an attack.
Tim Lenox (R) - 13th district - challenger
Feels the economic problems at the state level reflect the economic problems at the federal level. The massive deficit is a huge problem. Lenox would restrict funds to big cities and look for a more equitable distribution to smaller towns.
Lenox favors a Constitutional Convention indicating that warnings of chaos have not been born out. In addition, he noted that representatives to the Convention would be appointed by legislators.
Lenox favor improving the business climate as an incentive to students to attend school in Connecticut and to remain after graduation.
Competition is the key to health care improvement for Lenox.
Lenox decided not to offer an opinion on the Connecticut Juvenile Detention Center.
Lenox vowed to attack waste in the budget, and to bolster the atmosphere for business to help improve the economy, and thereby the available funds for government.
Thomas Gaffey (D) - 13th district - incumbent
Gaffey feels that a forward looking policy will help address the economic problems, and that it is an appropriate time to invest in the infrastructure.
Gaffey too opposes a Constitutional Convention claiming that it will negatively affect the legislative projects, and make elections complex.
Gaffey seconded Doyle on extending existing student loan programs to help students in hard economic times when other loans are not available.
Gaffey indicated that the plan Governor Rell vetoed would have allowed a major ability for the state to negotiate with insurers to create a health plan that was affordable and available to all.
While Gaffey also blamed Rell for not keeping her word to close the Connecticut Juvenile Detention Center, he indicated that there should be other, more local solutions to problem youths.
Gaffey made a pledge to attack a regressive property tax system, and to hold the line on unneccessary spending, while cutting carefully. He also expressed an interest in improving mass transit, with a return of tolls at state borders.
In closing Gaffey too scolded Capenera for "despicable" ads which he claimed "voters are sick of." He encourage all candidates to focus on issues.