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Monday, October 22, 2012

WALLINGFORD - Fur flies at forum for 85th, 90th

As published in the Record Journal, Friday October 19, 2012

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2225

WALLINGFORD — Republican Greg Bachand says state spending has grown 700 percent during the 32 years his opponent, Democratic state Rep. Mary M. Mushinsky, has held office.

“Her voting record speaks so loudly, it doesn’t matter what she said here tonight,” he said.

But Mushinsky called Bachand a “tea party aficionado” and said with the cuts he proposes, he’s putting dollars before people.

“There’s a clear choice between the two of us,” she said. “He looks at numbers, not people.”

Bachand and Mushinsky, who are vying for Wallingford’s 85th state House district, were the first of four pairs of candidates to face off in candidate forums sponsored by the Wallingford Community Women at Town Hall Wednesday and Thursday night. The forums were taped and will be rebroadcast on Wallingford Government TV.

On an issue that has financial implications in the millions, Bachand and Mushinsky also disagreed. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection adopted a phosphorus reduction strategy in response to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and compliance with the current standards will cost Wallingford $19 million.

Mushinsky, who has been a longtime environmental advocate, said the legislature passed a bill to give municipalities more time to comply with the standards and to receive up to 30 percent of the cost of the upgrades from state grants.

“I think more time and good technology should allow us to solve this problem at a reasonable cost,” she said.

But Bachand said unfunded mandates are “not sensible.”

103rd House District: Parts of Wallingford, Cheshire and Southington

Democrat Elizabeth Linehan agreed with her opponent, Republican state Rep. Al Adinolfi, on several issues throughout the forum. Both candidates said they supported reducing state government spending and suspending the Risk Reduction Earned Credits Program, which allows inmates to take courses and earn time off their sentences.

“It’s too inefficient on who they allowed to be released early,” Adinolfi said.

“I may be a Democrat but I am tough on crime,” Linehan said. “I have kids who live in this community ... I’m not messing around.”

But Linehan, a mother of two, said she felt she was more in touch with the concerns of residents in the 103rd District, which includes portions of Wallingford, Cheshire and Southington.

“Mr. Adinolfi, as nice as he is, does not fully represent the values of our district,” she said. Adinolfi said he has been elected five times, and votes based on what he hears from his constituents.

“I know what’s going on up there and I know what needs to get done,” he said.

90th House District: Parts of Wallingford and Cheshire

In one of the sharper exchanges of the night, Republican Guy Darter criticized the record of his opponent, Democratic state Rep. Mary Fritz. Darter said Fritz has been part of Democratic leadership that, through increased spending and taxes, “has driven the state into the ground.”

“Sometimes I wonder how you sleep at night,” he said.

But Fritz defended her record, saying she voted against the state income tax when it was proposed in the early 1990s and also voted against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s most recent budget, which included $1.8 billion in new taxes.

When Darter called for spending cuts, Fritz pointed out that his company, Darter Specialties, has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in state contracts.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have spent that money,” she said.

Darter countered that he would be in favor of eliminating his own contract — which covers pens, pencils, coffee mugs and other promotional material for the state.

“It’s one of many of the frivolous ways we’re spending money,” he said.

34th Senate District: Wallingford, East Haven and parts of North Haven and Durham

Democrat Steve Fontana, a former state representative from North Haven, criticized Republican state Sen. Len Fasano for not working hard enough to support the middle class.

“He’s become too close to millionaires and corporations,” Fontana said. “On issue after issue Len sides with millionaires and corporations. What we really need ... are people that side with the middle class.”

But Fasano said that Democrats had supported a budget that increased the sales tax and made clothing purchases under $50 and over-the-counter drugs taxable.

“That hurts the average person.”

He agreed with Fontana that the middle class is in trouble, but said Democrats were to blame.

“We’ve had 26 years of one party rule. ... It wasn’t me, it wasn’t my party that got us here.”

Fontana, who served in the General Assembly from 1997 to 2011, was defeated by Republican David Yaccarino for the 87th state House District seat in 2010. He said in the two years since, he has learned to reconnect with his community. “Too often when you’re at the Capitol, you live in a bubble,” he said.

This year is the first time Fasano has had an opponent since he joined the state Senate in 2002, but the Republican said he wasn’t changing his message or his campaign strategy.

“I want my kids to stay in the state of Connecticut,” he said. “I have to make this place desirable for them to live here.”

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