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Candidates for 4th Congressional District seat meet for debate

The candidates for the 4th Congressional District have met for a debate and covered a range of topics.  Democratic incumbent Jim Himes is being challenged by Republican former Darien First Selectman Jaime Stevenson for the seat.  They agree with a woman's right to chose and would stand against a national ban on abortion.  Each also say more has to be done to lower the cost of health care, but disagree over how to reach that goal. 

 

They also addressed the topics of firearms.  Himes touted the bipartisan Safe Communities Act approved this summer, including the so-called Red Flag provisions.  Himes says he believes in the 2nd Amendment, but gun violence should be addressed further.  He would still like to push for universal background checks and a continued discussion on assault weapons bans.  Stevenson says she believes in common sense gun legislation.  She supports Connecticut's regulations of a background check, fingerprinting and a safety class requirement.  She is concerned with one aspect of the Safe Communities Act.  Stevenson says reaching into mental health records of younger people looking to buy weapons may overstep HIPAA laws.  She added that people shouldn't be stigmatized for reaching out for mental health services.

 

On immigration, Stevenson says a sustainable legal immigration system needs to be established.  She says the country is in crisis mode when it comes to border issues.  Himes agrees the borders are not as secure as they should be, but he says anyone working in this country should be entitled to do so.

 

Stevenson does not support lowering the age of Medicare and instead suggested slowly increasing the age.  She says people are working longer than in the past.  Himes supports lowering the age.  He says lowering the age of the population that will create downward pressure on the costs associated with the program.

 

Continuing on the health care topic, Himes says the controversial Affordable Care Act is covering 20 million Americans who otherwise would not have insurance.  He notes that Congress passed a bill to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients.  But he says government should rethink the model and be incentivized to keep people healthy.  Stevenson was critical of the Affordable Care Act as being a costly option.  She wants to address the health and wellness of the country from a prevention perspective.  Stevenson also suggested allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines to introduce more competition.

 

A lot of time was spent discussing energy.  Stevenson says energy independence is also domestic security.  She says the country should unleash oil and gas reserves so residents can pay less.  She also wants work done toward a cleaner energy future, noting that she put solar panels on her house in 2006.  Himes notes that a measure was passed that included money for the LIHEAP program, which provides energy assistance to low income families in the winter time.  He says climate change should not be an afterthought.  Himes pointed out that the Inflation Reduction Act included a provision saying that for every wind generation or photovoltaic generation project, there will be a natural gas or oil lease approved.

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Dave Rinelli

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