Two men with experience representing the 2nd state House district are vying to hold the position for the next two years. Incumbent Democratic Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is being challenged by Republican former Representative Dan Carter. They covered a range of topics in a forum recently hosted by the Newtown Bee.
On the issue of utility accountability, Allie-Brennan says Carter voted against a bill when he was in office that would have reined in Eversource executive compensation and created new protections for consumers during long outages. Carter says opposition to the proposed bull was bipartisan because it could have hurt ratepayers.
On police accountability, Allie-Brennan says the way officers engage with people of color has been in the forefront of the national conscious. He called it the hardest vote he's had to take because he supports law enforcement and first responders. But he says the reforms mean the small number of bad actors can't discredit the good work done by the majority of police officers.
Carter acknowledged the distrust in officer seen in places across the country, and says there's room for reform. He added that there needs to be more money for training because there are many officers today who haven't been in the military and rely on tasers and escalate the use of force. Carter opposes portions of the bill. He says they can almost be fired at random and the only appeal is to the state board that fire them. He also opposed consent searches, crediting them for getting drugs and guns off the streets.
The pair also addressed vaccines. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a big debate at the state Capitol over a bill that would ban religious exemptions for vaccines when children attend public school. The Department of Public Health has estimated that as many as 7,800 children were granted a religious exemption during the 2018-19 school year. There were 134 Connecticut schools at which fewer than 95% of students were vaccinated against the measles that year. The 95% threshold is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to maintain herd immunity.
Allie-Brennan says he believes in science, but notes that some proposals were too broad. He wants to strengthen the medical exemption rather than forcing families to invoke the religious exemption.
Carter says he too believes in science, but would prefer to go the route of educating people rather than mandating them to do something. He was critical of the state Department of Public Health data counting children as unvaccinated if they were missing one vaccination.
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic itself, the pair were asked what if any advice they would give to Governor Lamont on what the state should be doing. Allie-Brennan says he's been helping constituents address Department of Labor issues and talking with small businesses about their needs during the different phases of the shut down. He touted the lifeline of extending unemployment benefits.
Carter, who worked with former gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski to hand out free masks across the state, says the Governor has not done an awful job. He wishes the Governor involved the legislature more, especially lately, and that lawmakers stepped up to make their voices heard. Carter doesn't believe Republicans would have done much to curtail his executive powers, but it would have shown the power of the people were involved.