A familiar name is looking to unseat a freshman state lawmaker representing Easton, Redding and Weston. Democratic incumbent Anne Hughes is being challenged by Republican John Shaban, who held the position through 2017, but opted not to run for a 4th term as he ran for Congress. The pair recently addressed the issues during a League of Women Voters forum.
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hughes says the state has done well in ramping up testing, giving guidance to schools and acquiring PPE. Shaban says there's been conflicting information on the calendar and rules for reopening.
On transportation funding and infrastructure improvements, Hughes says investments are needed. She called for truck tolling, with the money dedicated to the Special Transportation Fund. Hughes also wants more bang for the federal buck. Shaban sent 6 years on the finance committee and says the Special Transportation Fund dollars were moved time and again. He says the lockbox was a step in the right direction, but the money can get raided before making it to the STF. He called for a watchdog to perform oversight duties.
The candidates also discussed Eversource and United Illuminating storm response. Shaban says it's like deja vu from when he was in office with storms at that time. He touted a bill passed then that imposed fines for failure to prepare for storms, that utilities were following for years. Hughes says the Take Back Our Grid Act took huge steps forward to make utilities accountable to ratepayers first, over shareholders. But she called it a first step.
The pair also addressed the police accountability bill. Hughes called racial justice a concern and called for policies that approach issues from an equitable lens. Shaban joined the Black and Latino caucus to pass a racial profiling bill that gathered information about traffic stops across the state. He proposed sentence reforms and drug courts to treat those arrests differently.
The state's fiscal situation was also discussed. Shaban says spending is out of control despite record tax increases. He doesn't think the state needs as many state workers as are currently employed and believes many functions can be privatized. Shaban opposes rate and rule changes on an annual basis saying it's unfair to businesses. Hughes says Connecticut is finally paying down the debt of long term pension liabilities and relying on more state employees than ever for unprecedented work.