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Candidates for State House of Representatives

League of Women Voters Guide

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Candidates for State House of Representatives

Two-Year Term

Questions for the State House of Representative Candidates:

(150-word limit)

Economy: In this time of high unemployment, what would be your priority to improve our state’s economy?

Campaign Finance Reform: What should be done to rein in the influence of money in political campaigns? Do you support expanded requirements for disclosure of the source of money behind political ads? Why or why not?

Environment: What measures would you support to reduce carbon emissions from transportation in CT? 

Gun Laws: What should the state legislature do to insure that guns that were originally purchased legally are not then sold illegally on our streets?

Candidate State House of Representatives – 132nd District

 

Brenda L. Kupchick (Republican)

 Economy: Connecticut companies hesitate to reinvest in their businesses or hire new employees because of the constant threat of tax hikes. We must get the state’s fiscal house in order and stop taxing businesses for programs and projects we just can’t afford. With CT’s unemployment rate up over 9% the legislature must also look at repealing many of the unnecessary mandates and fees already in place. Red tape, or even talk about proposals that would add more, is enough to put a chill on our state’s economic recovery efforts.

As a small business owner myself, I sent a survey to every business in Fairfield to solicit ideas on how we can make the state more business friendly. I also established a Business Advisory Task Force made up of a cross section of Fairfield business owners to work with me to develop legislative proposals to reduce unnecessary regulation and encourage job growth. 

Campaign Finance Reform: What should be done to rein in the influence of money in political campaigns? Do you support expanded requirements for disclosure of the source of money behind political ads? Why or why not?

While Connecticut has taken significant steps in the last several years to provide residents with thorough information about who funds campaigns, I believe the influence of special interest money in elections is a serious concern. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed shadow organizations to heavily influence elections without disclosing the same information that candidates must. I believe that everyone has a right to participate in the process but elections are most fair when everyone has to play by the same rules and disclose the same information. We need increased disclosure requirements but we need to be careful to ensure the basic constitutional rights of all participants in the system.

Environment: The legislature needs to cut wasteful spending in other areas in order to responsibly and heavily invest in adding capacity to the Metro-North rail line. It isn’t meeting the needs of the commuters in Fairfield County. More investment in rail equals fewer cars on the roads and lower emissions. We also need to start planning to take advantage of a massive rail freight investment by New York State to help move truck traffic off of I-95 and onto rail.

Connecticut needs a comprehensive plan to transition state vehicles to Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV) as our current fleet ages. NGVs emit significantly less carbon dioxide than gasoline and diesel vehicles, especially large truck fleets. Our state legislature should support policies that encourage this switch, but look to do so in a fiscally responsible manner over a period of five to ten years 

Gun Laws: Fortunately, the state of Connecticut has laws on the books that require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns within 72 hours of discovering their theft or loss. We should, however, fund the Connecticut Firearms Trafficking Task Force that consists of municipal and state law enforcement officials to review gun trafficking in this state and implement solutions to address resources to prosecute and enforce existing laws.

 

Sue Brand (Democratic)

Economy: Strategic planned economic growth is key to improving our economy. I will work to improve transportation, ensure that our educational system prepares students for future jobs and promote quality and affordable healthcare. These are all components of a pro business environment. 

In order to keep employers in the state and attract new businesses I will work to address the tax burden on businesses.  Our state must increase the use of technology to deliver services more cost effectively. Another strategy is to expand partnerships between CT businesses and our educational system to improve job opportunities for our graduates in science, technology, engineering and math. My background in healthcare, education and government make me uniquely qualified to address these critical challenges and opportunities for our economy.

Campaign Finance Reform: I enthusiastically support full disclosure of the source of money behind political ads. This can increase transparency and accountability and help the public make fully informed choices.

Environment: There are a number of ways to protect the environment and the community. Increasing the use of mass transit, by getting more rail cars on track, and promoting ride sharing are effective ways to decrease carbon emissions. Improving storm preparedness by addressing beach erosion and flooding and tree trimming programs are also essential strategies.  

Gun Laws: I support existing laws that require that guns that are lost or stolen be reported within 72 hours to law enforcement officials. I support the firearms trafficking task force that is charged with effective and cooperative enforcement of the laws of this state regarding the distribution and possession of firearms.

 

Candidate State House of Representatives – 133rd District

Chris DeSanctis (Republican)

Economy: A conventional response would prioritize one or more near-term (e.g., fees, taxes, incentives, regulations) or long-term policies (e.g., transportation, education, training, industry clusters). However, what we really must do is address the massive fiscal and competitive problems we face with high taxes, gasoline prices, electricity costs, continuing budget deficits, and the highest per capita debt and unfunded retirement liabilities in the nation, all of which have ominous implications for Connecticut’s future. The only way we can address these problems is by ending the “One-Party Rule” in Hartford that created them. The current legislative majority has effectively controlled both houses of the Assembly ever since Connecticut adopted its new Constitution in 1965. One-party rule explains why, in response to the financial crisis and recession, when other states recognized the need for spending and tax restraint, our state increased spending and imposed the biggest tax hike in the state’s history ($1.8 billion).

Campaign Finance Reform: “Campaign money” is a serious problem only in a country where the voters don’t look beyond campaign propaganda and rhetoric to reach their own judgments on the issues and candidates they consider most important and best qualified, respectively. Fortunately, this is not a problem in America, as is apparent in the outcomes of many races, including some close to home, in which the candidate with the most spending was the loser. The best solution would be greater emphasis in our schools on teaching the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a Representative Democracy, along with more political, economic and public policy history. Overall, I support the effort to better understand where campaign money is coming from, but the right to free speech must also be protected. The bigger question is, “how do we reduce the influence of money in government”?

Environment: The earth’s climate appears to be warming, as it has at other times in the past. Less clear is how much of this warming is attributable to carbon emissions, and even less clear is what effect Connecticut can have on global carbon emissions at a time when literally hundreds of millions of people are rapidly increasing their energy consumption. China alone is adding another coal-fired power plant every two weeks and is now the largest car market in the world. At the state level, we can only make symbolic gestures, like encouraging the use of alternative energy and conservation efforts. I would careful to not support measures that would further increase the already high costs of living or doing business in Connecticut, including adding to the already uncompetitive regulatory burdens and bureaucracy. We already have enough problems trying to attract and retain residents and job-creating businesses to Connecticut.

Gun Laws: Stronger anti-illegal gun programs are needed like Project Exile, first started in Richmond, VA, and now are found in many other American communities. Project Exile has helped curtail the purchase and criminal use of illegal guns. However, anyone who thinks that people who want guns, particularly criminals who are responsible for most violent crime, will be significantly deterred from getting them through legislation is mistaking the symptoms for the disease. The question should be “what can we do to reduce gun violence.” That question is part of an even bigger problem. America has seen the creation of a violent “under culture,” most visible in our big cities, where most gun violence occurs. Other symptoms of the bigger problem include an epidemic of fatherlessness, the overall family breakdown, and low educational performance. There are no easy solutions, but we desperately need a nationwide conversation about what can be done.

 

Kim Fawcett (Democratic)

Economy: Our economy will improve as we help bring more jobs to Connecticut. State government can play a role in encouraging job growth by providing the right incentives and support for businesses. I am an enthusiastic supporter of the 2011 Jobs Bill passed last October with bipartisan action. This legislation takes into account significant input from business owners and includes several measures geared to fueling job growth. It reduces burdensome regulations on businesses, cuts the business entity tax and calls for realigning higher education with job-sector needs. The companion Small Business Express Program will also help add jobs by providing loans and grants to small businesses that want to expand or make improvements. I was very happy to work with Glenn Levinson, owner of Fairfield’s Westfair TV, to help him successfully apply for a state matching grant through this program to renovate his Post Road storefront.

Campaign Finance Reform: Never has the role of money in Connecticut politics been more evident than during the 2012 election cycle. Money has the power to distort information, confuse voters and elevate people with radical or selfish intentions. The creation of private Political Action Committees (PACs) serves to mask anonymous contributions from wealthy individuals, effectively allowing a select few to have a stronger voice in the outcome of elections and campaigns. I believe that we must bring increased transparency to this process by requiring full disclosure of all expenditures.

Environment: In 2013 I will continue to advocate for the expansion of mass transit to reduce carbon emissions from cars and to benefit the economy. My consistent message has been that Connecticut mass transit must be brought into the 21st century with more parking at train stations, more seats, and more frequent service. These improvements are essential to making commuting by train a viable and convenient option for more people. In 2012, as Chair of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I am in a strong position to advance such efforts and ensure that improvement of our mass transit infrastructure becomes a higher priority. I will continue to work to expand the Mass Transit Improvement program that I championed as a way to finally target resources for mass transit investment. We cannot afford to do every needed project immediately, but I intend to keep fighting for incremental improvements.

Gun Laws: In Connecticut we need to recognize the dangerously increasing firepower of weapons. Fortunately, we do have an assault weapons ban in place in Connecticut, but we don’t have a ban on the large-capacity ammunition magazines that allow the shooter to fire off 30 rounds or more in seconds. These magazines added to the carnage at Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Aurora, Colo., movie theater, Fort Hood, Texas, and the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. A current proposal that the legislature will revisit in 2013 is a ban on the Internet sale of ammunition. Currently, Connecticut residents can purchase ammunition online and have it shipped without a background check or any other control.

Candidate State House of Representatives – 134th District

 

Tony Hwang (Republican)

Economy: Unemployment statistics reflect not only our economic difficulties but also represent the significant emotional impact on the well-being of our community and its’ residents.  I have worked diligently to provide solutions toward economic self-sufficiency and future growth. My achievements are:

  • Helped Housatonic Community College obtain a portion of a $16.7 million grant to build a manufacturing education center
  • · Supported business initiatives in genomics/DNA medicine of Jackson Laboratory to create a world class bioscience industry in CT.
  • Introduced Learn Here, Live Here legislation, an incentive for certain CT graduates to stay in-state and buy their first home here, to reduce the brain drain of young graduates leaving our state.          
  • Common Sense Government - our state government must do what CT families are doing everyday – making difficult decisions/sacrifices and living within their means such as – Not spending no more than you make and borrowing only what you can afford to pay back

Campaign Finance Reform: Clean and representative elections are sacred in American politics. Now, a new element has threatened our valued election process, the influence of outside PAC money in local elections. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a landmark US Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. As a ranking member of the Elections Committee, I advocated an expanded requirement for disclosure of the source of money behind political expenditures. I believe that our political process should reflect local participation, not the special interests of national entities. 

Citizens United allowed corporations and unions to openly and actively engage in political campaigns. I believe they should also be held to the same standards of disclosure that you and I are held to for political campaign contributions - a complete disclosure of campaign finance sources and its’ donors.

Environment: Balanced and economically practical should be the legislative themes of our environmental policy in Hartford. Reducing our congested highways from commuters and commercial traffic is critical to successfully reduce carbon emissions. 

I have supported measures to reduce carbon emissions from our transportation infrastructure. One such measure is to encourage mass transit through train travel. I am an avid supporter of improving and promoting policies to create a more responsive/efficient Metro-North train system via Fairfield Parking Authority and CT Commuter Rail Council. Commercial traffic can also be diverted by making better use of our deep water ports along the Long Island Sound. CT Maritime Association has raised some compelling solutions to reduce congestion on I-95 by building and employing cargo vessels along the New England coast, ultimately tackling carbon emissions in our state. As an Environment Committee member, I have promoted proactive/ innovative strategies to reducing carbon emissions throughout our State.

Gun Laws: The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution is the part of the US Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to militia service and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. In McDonald v. Chicago, the Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment limits state and local governments to the same extent that it limits the federal government. I support a ban on assault/automatic weapons, since such machinery exceeds the purpose of self-defense and lawful recreational use. We need to maintain a vigilant registry log to prevent loss or sales of legally purchase gun for illegal street use. We need to support law enforcement officials in public education about responsible gun ownership.

 

Heather Dean (Democratic)

Economy: Connecticut must live within a budget. When there’s more month than paycheck families make sacrifices, and Connecticut must too. I’ll help make responsible cuts to the budget on programs that are not performing as expected. In addition, I’d like to move state employees from a defined benefits plan to a defined contribution plan, or perhaps a hybrid of both if that is more cost effective. 

Likewise, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and I want to support them. On average, most small business owners have only one employee, themselves. I’ll bring my scissors and real business experience to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that chokes growth, and support incentives for business owners to hire one extra paid staff member each year to teach their trade to. This builds confidence and resumes which perpetuates into business expansion and further employment opportunities. I’d support incentives like a tax credit

Campaign Finance Reform: I’m glad that I was able to use the Citizen’s Election Public Funding for my campaign. I was able to follow the rules and show that I was a credible candidate, obtaining most of my donations from within my district. With the public clamoring for transparency, it's prudent to have all political donation sources to be named. There is too much at stake to allow any particular agency, corporation or wealthy individuals to have the ability to sway an election using unlimited resources, without disclosing the source. 

Environment: I would support a campaign with incentives for more carpooling, incentives to increase our commuter rail service and increase our bus service to and from our train stations. I’d support incentives for building a light rail service to move cars off our clogged highways; likewise, would support incentives to move cargo from trucks to trains whenever possible. 

I would support initiatives to build and use windmills to harness wind energy. Time and again, I’m seeing windmills being welcomed and used on the east coast. I would also support initiatives for homeowner clothesline use. Clotheslines are least expensive, least intrusive way to save energy AND the easiest to start the conversation on conservation and ease of using solar energy. Likewise, I would support additional initiatives to help offset costs of purchasing and installing solar panels on public buildings and private homes to reduce carbon emissions.

Gun Laws: This is a significant problem in our society and the battle cry to ban all guns is not the answer, it simply won’t work.  Guns are here, for better or worse. We have rigorous gun restriction laws in place that should be deterrent enough, but aren’t. Guns are mechanical, not digital; we can’t control their whereabouts and disable them when not accounted for or on demand. 

To combat this, as a legislator, I would support an aggressive education awareness campaign where gun violence is prevalent. I would promote mandatory signage in gun shops, pawn shops, and at dealer shows and wherever else is recommended. The signage would promote severe consequences of careless gun ownership, showing the primary, secondary and tertiary effects of gun violence (death, injury, jail and destroyed lives). A campaign to promote safety and personal responsibility is the best way to thwart guns from being sold illegally.

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