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Candidates in 30th District state Senate race debate

There's an open race 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.

State Senator Craig Miner, the chief deputy Senate Republican leader, decided not to seek reelection.  

Harding noted that he worked with Miner on the Environment Committee, which opened his eyes to the issues impacting the northwest corner.  He touted a bill passed last year putting more regulations in place on tree removal in state parks.   

"DEEP cut down trees, arbitrarily in Housatonic Meadows State Park. The beauty of the park was senselessly destroyed," Harding said. 

Bermudez-Zimmerman also wants to work to protect the environment. 

"It was ashame that the DEEP clear-cut a lot of trees at a state park, without any notice upsetting many people." Bermudez-Zimmerman said. 

She called for more public awareness of invasive species, but believes algae blooms have been the bigger problem lately.  

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. 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. 

"Some vendors are small business owners and trying to recoup their funds.  They should be involved in conversations to find savings for customers in a way that they won't lose money," she noted. 

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. 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.  She is a chairperson of Childcare for Connecticut's Future. The organization was able to secure $183 million more dollars for early childhood educators.  

Harding touted a bill to cap the cost of insulin. 

"My mother has Type 1 Diabetes. Making the life saving medicine more affordable is important to a lot of Connecticut residents," Harding said.