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Candidates debate in race for open 30th District state Senate seat

There's an opening in the 30th state Senate District, which represents Brookfield, New Milford and 16 other towns in the northwest corner.  Democrat Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman and Republican Stephen Harding are running for the position.  Harding is currently the 107th House District Representative and Bermudez-Zimmerman has been  an advocate for 16 years, with 10 years representing child care providers.

Harding says he's worked with outgoing Senator Craig Miner on the Environment Committee, which opened his eyes to the issues impacting the northwest corner.  He touted a bill passed last year about tree removal in state parks.  DEEP cut down trees, arbitrarily in Housatonic Meadows State Park.  Harding says the beauty of the park was senselessly destroyed.  The bill put more regulations in place around tree removal in state parks. 

Bermudez-Zimmerman also wants to work to protect the environment.  She says it was a shame that the DEEP clear-cut a lot of trees at a state park, without any notice upsetting many people.  Bermudez-Zimmerman says more public awareness is needed of invasive species, but says algae blooms have been the bigger problem lately.  She says treatment plans and figuring out how to work with lake authorities would be a priority. 

As for broadband services, Harding says more can be done to encourage companies to expand in rural areas.  He would also support some regulatory changes, but wants to protect open space in terms of how that infrastructure is implemented. 

When it comes to broadband services, Bermudez-Zimmerman says the state needs corporate partners to expand infrastructure. 

Bermudez-Zimmerman says whether or not to extend the gas tax holiday is a complicated question.  She says some vendors are small business owners and trying to recoup their funds.  She wants them involved to find savings for customers, but where they won't lose money. 

In an effort to keep young people to the state, Harding supports a program to provide tax incentives to businesses to provide student loan repayment programs.  He also thinks Connecticut should be aware of the taxes, fees and regulations on small businesses are disincentivizing them from expanding.  Harding supports continuing the current gas tax holiday.

Bermudez-Zimmerman says programs like Care for Kids, a subsidized program, could be a model for the state.  Bermudez-Zimmerman is a chair of Childcare for Connecticut's Future and the organization was able to secure $183 million more dollars for early childhood educators.  She says the workforce shrunk by 30-percent just before the pandemic.   

Harding touted a bill to cap the cost of insulin.  His mother has Type 1 Diabetes and making the life saving medicine more affordable was important.  Harding says one priority is to keep Sharon Hospital open.  He says critical services are under threat by owner Nuvance Health.  He says women shouldn't have to travel over an hour away if the maternity ward is shuttered.  He wants stricter oversight of health care mergers.