A Danbury lawyer is looking to unseat a two-term incumbent in the 2nd House District race. The district includes parts of Bethel, Danbury, Redding and Newtown.
The Republican incumbent in Dan Carter, who says there’s been a lot done, but a lot left unfinished. He says the nearly $3 billion deficit needs to be tackled. Some of the accomplishments he cited from the last session was strengthening protections from domestic violence on college campuses, stopping a bill that would turn gift cards into cash and regulating compounding pharmacies in the state. He says across the district demographics are pretty similar and people want the same kinds of things, even though there might be disagreement on how to get there.
Democrat Candace Fay is a Danbury resident who has an undergrad and law degree from UConn. She says she is running because she wants other people to have the same opportunities and experiences that she was fortunate enough to have here. She also wants Connecticut to be a place where people like her parents, who are retirees, can continue to live on a fixed income.
When it comes to the budget, Fay says some money could be reallocated to priority items like toward transportation and education. She wants to increase the frequency of Metro North trains on the Danbury branch. Fay says if there is more of an investment in the education system, more students will stay in Connecticut and employers will want to move to the state. Fay says when businesses look to locate in a particular place, they look toward transportation and education.
Carter says education reform may be the hallmark of the next session. He says it’s gotten to a point where the ECS formula needs to be scrapped. He says it’s being underfunded and created an overreliance on property taxes and municipalities aren’t getting what they need. He says Common Core has some good concepts, but its implementation has become a heavy-handed checklist. He says it also cut out teachers in its design.
Fay says the Common Core initiative did not go over well with teachers. She believes the intent is good, but it was not well implemented. She does not support teaching to a test because what may be an achievement for one child is not the same achievement for another child of the same age. She wants to get input from educators about how to improve public schools. Fay would put more money into vocational training noting that it’s not a bad thing that not every student is college bound. She adds that would add manufacturing jobs to the area.
As for student loans, she thinks it’s important to invest in students so they invest in the state. She says it could be employers sort of recruiting students in a similar process to the NBA or NFL recruits their athletes and maybe pay a portion of their student debt. Fay says if there was a job at the end of the tunnel, that would be the most promising future. Fay says Connecticut has a hard time keeping young people here that the state educates.
When it comes to transportation, Carter says aging infrastructure is just part of the problem. He says the Transportation Fund being tapped for other items is also a problem. Carter says the MTA might not be the best option to run Metro North in Connecticut in the future, but all options should be on the table. He wants federal legislators to bring back federal dollars to improve the Danbury branch.
Fay is not a proponent of border tolls, but if they did come back she says in-state residents shouldn’t be charged. With electronic tolling, a picture of an out of state license plate could be taken, similar to a system in Florida. She would want the funding to go toward road maintenance. She says this would be especially helpful because of the high volume of tractor-trailers using the roads to go between New York City and Boston, creating damage and not being charged. As for the argument that border tolls would hurt businesses in the region, like the Mall, she says New Yorkers are used to paying tolls and a 50 cent toll would still cost less than New York Sales tax.
Carter says the next budget could make or break the state. In order to recover faster, he says spending needs to get under control.
Fay believes in preserving open space and protecting the water resources in the state. She thinks education is the key to promoting alternate energy and energy efficiency. She notes there are tax breaks that many people don’t take advantage of for replacing windows and doors.
There’s a constitutional amendment question on the ballot that carter says would take the constitutional protections out of the constitution and into the hands of the Secretary of the State and the legislature. He believes in no-excuse absentee balloting, but this would take the state down a path that’s ripe with fraud.
Many of the candidates who represent Newtown were asked about the gun bill approved last year. Carter says the debate was very emotional and done so fast, there were many good things missed. He says no one really has the appetite to touch it again. He says gun trafficking is a problem, people with mental illness still have the ability to get guns and he would have liked to have seen those two topics addressed. He also wants better coordination of care for people with mental illness.
Fay addressed the three areas being discussed by the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission: mental health services, school security and gun safety.
Fay does pro-bono legal work through the Probate Court system with guardianship of intellectually disabled and conservator applications based on a mental incapacity. She says there are resources in the area, but not enough available. She is calling for more home-based mental heath services, pointing out that an inpatient hospital is not always the best setting. She also says it’s expensive. She says more field workers, therapists, social workers and psychiatrists so there’s someone working with a person on a more day-to-day basis. She suggested consulting with clinicians about whether more frequent follow-ups are needed.
Fay is a proponent of School Resource Officers. Her brother was an SRO in New Canaan for several years. She says funding from the state could make it an easier decision. She says this creates a nice liaison between children and the police department, almost becoming like another guidance counselor. With that in mind, she says kids are also being raised that police officers are there for children and the protection the community.
When it comes to the gun control legislation passed last year, she supports it fully and says she would not do anything to weaken it or repeal it. She called it inappropriate that her opponent voted against it, given that part of their district includes Newtown. She says she has not heard a good argument for why someone would need 30 rounds of ammunition at one time or an AR 15. As for universal background checks, she cited the case of a Torrington teen who was blocked from being able to purchase a gun. The teen had discussed plans to shoot students in Danbury and Torrington. She believes people have the right to bear arms, but that there can be restrictions on that with regard to keeping firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have firearms.
There was a recent dustup over social media over gun safety. A woman tweeted about Carter’s answer during a League of Women Voters forum on the topic from 2012, held before the shootings at Sandy Hook School. He said that education on how to safely handle a firearm is important and suggested working with the NRA to bring the programs into the schools. Carter tweeted: “Both sides are against reasonable solutions, so they are all accountable for gun deaths-NRA, NAA, CAGV.” Those groups being the National Rifle Association, the Newtown Action Alliance and Connecticut Against Gun Violence.
Fay issued a statement in response to the tweet: “As the representative of part of Newtown, Rep. Carter’s assertions illustrate his poor judgment, and his lack of respect for the people of Newtown.”
Carter says what he meant by the tweet was that the anti gun groups and the NRA are on opposite sides of the debate and won’t come together, blocking lawmakers from getting substantial gun legislation through in Hartford that he says would actually save lives.