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City Councilman looks to unseat state lawmaker in 138th House District

Two men are vying to represent the 138th state House district, which includes parts of Danbury, New Fairfield and Ridgefield.  Incumbent Democrat Ken Gucker is being challenged by Republican City Councilman Emile Buzaid. 

Gucker says he was disappointed the last session was cut short, because he was working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on Bryan Cody's Law which would have dealt with opioid addiction.  Buzaid says his priorities, if elected, include rolling back the police accountability bill.

Gucker says everyone is in it together in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.  He thinks Governor Lamont has done a decent job and wants to see the state continue having one of the lowest infection rates in the nation.  Buzaid says health is every important, but the state's economic health needs to be taken into account.  He says the cure shouldn't be worse than the disease. 

The candidates agree for the most part about making utilities more ratepayer friendly.  Gucker says he wants to see a cap on executive pay.  He called the delivery charge increase this summer insulting considering the storm response that followed.  Buzaid says what happened this summer was unacceptable.  He called for fines levied by the state on the power company.

On the police accountability bill, Gucker says there was middle ground considering the police weren't happy and others thought it didn't go far enough.  He says the police unions have focused on the qualified immunity portion.  He touted the portion that expanded psychological help for officers, training and funding for body cameras.  Buzaid says there are too many unintended consequences.  He says it will cost municipalities more in training costs and to buy equipment with the ban on getting old military infrastructure.

Gucker wants to expand voting opportunity for residents.  He was disappointed that the Senate didn't vote with enough of a majority to put a constitutional change on the ballot that would eventually open up early voting.  Buzaid says he'd be open to no-excuse absentee balloting.  He says voting should be taken seriously, but can be opened up so residents can cast a ballot in a timely manner.

When it comes to affordable housing and the state's 8-30g law, Gucker says a developer shouldn't be able to ignore local zoning laws.  He wants neighbors to have a say on what the community looks like.  But he says more than 10-percent of 8-30g developments isn't enough incentive to increase affordable housing.  Right now he says it's a windfall for developers and suggested the minimum be 30-percent of all units.  Buzaid says municipalities should maintain control over what's happening, because every municipality is different.  But he says there should be more affordable housing in the state.

On fixing the state's fiscal picture, Gucker touted the growing Rainy Day Fund and paying off pension liability. But he called for the state to invest in infrastructure like updating decades old computer systems for the Labor Department and Motor Vehicles.  Having been in business for over 50 years, Buzaid says the state should only spend what it takes in.  He says more efficient disbursement of funds is needed because the tax rate is too high.

Both candidates oppose tolls and agree that money designated for transportation projects should be used for those designated projects.  Gucker says there was a lot of misinformation on both sides of the issue

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Todd Schnitt

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