Local candidates square off in CN debate

From left, Democratic incumbents state Sen. Joe Crisco, state Rep. Vickie Nardello, and state Rep. Theresa Conroy

NAUGATUCK — Candidates for state House and Senate seats in local districts squared off in a debate coordinated and moderated by Citizen’s News on Oct. 21.

State Sen. Joe Crisco (D-17th District) and his Republican challenger, Naugatuck Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi, sparred over health care mandates and term limits; state Rep. Vickie Nardello (D-89th house district) and her challenger, Republican Katheryn Brown, discussed energy costs and political experience; and state Rep. Theresa Conroy (D-105th house district) and her opponent, Republican Len Greene Jr., debated the state budget as well as the privatization and consolidation of state agencies.

All six candidates answered general questions about spending and the budget, business and the economy, education and public health. They fielded questions from the audience about such varied topics as the impact of national health care reform and local constituency service.

Senate hopefuls Crisco and Rossi agreed on one thing — the state is in a very tough position and each of them wants to be part of the solution.

“These are trying times across Connecticut, especially in the 17th Senatorial District,” Crisco said. “Budgets are being stretched thin, unemployment is high and people are wondering how their going to make ends meet. I personally believe that all of us should be concerned about solutions and we should all work together if we are going to resolve the unparalleled financial problems that are going to face this state during the next two years.”

Rossi identified the problems and said she shares the burdens of the residents across the district.

“This is a critical time for our state and the residents in our district who have a clear choice of candidates with vastly different backgrounds and viewpoints. I recognize the problems with accountability and business-as-usual mentality in Hartford, and I share in the same burdens each and every resident does.”

Rossi placed the blame on the officials who she said got the state into such a dire situation, including her opponent, who has been in office for 18 years.
“We must hold the majority party and each of its officials responsible for their abysmal record of job losses, high taxes, record deficits and out of control spending,” Rossi said.

Crisco defended himself by referencing his record, something he feels exemplifies the strong work done during his tenure.

“I have a clear record of reaching across the aisle to get things done,” Crisco said. “The issue is not how many years you serve, it’s how you serve and what one accomplished during that period of time.”

Rossi called out Crisco on his votes regarding the increased state budget and high taxes. She said the state should be first in everything but fails to do so because it spends too much money and doesn’t spend it wisely.

Crisco said his experience and constituent work is what the district needs to succeed. Rossi said the district needs a new voice that will ask why and not be fearful to make the tough decisions required to get this state and its citizens back on track.

CN Editor Brendan Cox moderated the debate, which lasted about 100 minutes. The Naugatuck Elks Lodge #967 donated its space for the event.

Citizen’s News wishes to thank the Naugatuck Elks, whose gracious donation made this event possible, all six candidates, and all who attended.
Video coverage of the event compliments of Frank Loda is available in two parts: 1 and 2.