After two decades, the 111th House district of Ridgefield will get a new state representative. John Frey, who was first elected in 1998, is not seeking reelection in November. Republican Selectman Bob Hebert and Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo recently took part in a League of Women Voters debate.
Hebert chaired the Ridgefield Housing Authority, is a member of CERT, coached hockey, softball and baseball, and spent 10 years on Wall Street. He owns and manages a private equity fund. Berger-Girvalo was operations manager for Hard Rock Cafe International and Gap, and worked as an instructional para-educator in Ridgefield Public Schools, and as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist, providing in-home and in-school behavioral and educational services to children on the Autism Spectrum.
On the 8-30g affordable housing statute, Hebert says there is some merit to the law, but the 10 percent minimum unit requirement is unachievable in Ridgefield. He says the town has done good a job in getting affordable units, but not all of the homes are deed restricted and therefore do not qualify. Hebert called for keeping zoning decisions local. Berger-Girvalo says the law does a great job in serving big developers and real estate investors and doesn't help bring those who work in the community to live in the community. She says seniors are very concerned about how they will be able to age in place.
The police accountability bill was addressed. Berger-Girvalo says she supports the local police department and called for everyone to take a breath and get this right. She maintains that the most important piece is bringing communities to the table. Berger-Girvalo says officers can still objectively perform in good faith. Hebert says additional and ongoing training and police body cameras are good things. But he says the way the bill was done in Special Session with limited public input, didn't leave time to analyze the implications of the bill.
Hebert says there's no silver bullet to correct the state's fiscal woes. He says there's been decades of unchallenged spending. He called for a reduction in state mandates and a rollback of unfunded mandates on municipalities. Hebert wants to put sunset rules on some financial-related laws so they don't stay on the books for a long period of time. Berger-Girvalo says there is no easy answer, but the state can't look at just short-term solutions. She wants to close tax loopholes and says there are a lot of 1-percenters in the state who are not contributing in the way that working class people are contributing. Berger-Girvalo suggested cost sharing, opportunities for consolidating and bringing in new revenue through new industries.
The candidates were asked about whether the state legislature should try again to implement no-excuse absentee voting. Berger-Girvalo says she supports any legislation that secures voting rights. Hebert agreed that he would support voting laws that ensure every eligible individual has an easy way to vote.