State Representative Patrick Callahan is running for reelection in the 108th District serving New Fairfield and Sherman. Democrat Jeff Ginsburg is looking to unseat him. Ginsburg grew up in Danbury and retired in Sherman. He's active in a number of local organizations. He lives on Squantz Pond and was on the Candlewood Yacht Club Board of Directors. Callahan was Chief of Probation in Danbury for many years and notes that the City had the lowest recidivism rates in the state and the country. He wants to continue working to create more accountability among juveniles who are committing crimes.
Callahan touted work on a bipartisan bill that passed in the last session to protect minors from online grooming. The measure, approved unanimously, would protect minors from being stalked online by adults and using language to lure them into human trafficking. Callahan is a member of the Juvenile Justice policy and Oversight Committee, which meets monthly.
Ginsburg says Sherman allows for in-law suites to help seniors stay in the community and near their families. He would like to see more initiatives to help people age in place, but doesn't think the state should get involved in zoning issues. He believes zoning should remain under local oversight. His top priority if elected would be to focus on education and children's mental health. Ginsburg says school-based services should be expanded. He says offering more services could also help cut down on crime and prevent domestic issues.
Callahan wants to reintroduce legislation to make vehicle theft its own crime, taking it out of the category of larceny. He says vehicles are lifelines for families and wants to tackle the juvenile crime issue. After the loss of qualified immunity in the 2020 Police Accountability Bill, Callahan says officers are leaving and there's a lack of staff to enforce laws. He notes that Danbury is putting Detectives out on patrol because they can't fill shifts and be proactive. He doesn't understand why Connecticut punished the good officers of Connecticut for the acts of an office halfway across the country, referring to the George Floyd shooting.
Ginsburg supports recent public safety measures approved by the General Assembly, including increased funding for police training, resources for the court to address backlogs and more youth prevention programs. He would support toughening policies to stop crimes before they start.
When it comes to gun measures, Callahan says most crimes in the state are committed with handguns, and illegal handguns. He says he's willing to listen to pragmatic proposals that will prevent crime, but says criminals don't care about laws.
Callahan says protecting water quality is a priority. He is concerned about the loss of native vegetation in Candlewood and Ball Pond. Callahan says another issue that came up this summer was so-called Uber Boating people to the islands and leaving behind garbage and human waste, which resulted in the New Fairfield Health Department shutting down an island. He wants to look into regulations stopping private boats from being used as commercial entities.
Ginsburg says the use of wake boats is increasing and having an impact on the shoreline. He thinks state troopers are doing a good job in controlling crowds. Ginsburg says WCSU did a study years ago that found 40-percent of the area's economy is related to the lake. He wants to create an economic council to coordinate activities around the lake.
When it comes to walk-ins at state parks, Ginsburg doesn't support a ban but would support a fee for adult users in order to help maintain the park. Callahan also wants to try again to change walk-in regulations at state parks due to overcrowding at Squantz Pond. He says pedestrians are walking down a state road with no shoulders and creating a hazard.
Callahan supports continuing the gas tax holiday. He would repeal the highway use tax on trucks and the increased diesel tax. Ginsburg would support the 25-cent gas tax holiday, but also supports the highway user fee set to take effect for large trucks. He says that will help pay for some infrastructure projects.