By LISA CAPOBIANCO
With Election Day less than a month away, Bristol candidates for the State Representative and State Senate seats are gearing up for a debate.
On Monday, Oct. 17, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce will host a state debate at St. Paul Catholic High School at 6 p.m. Moderated by veteran political reporter Tom Monahan, the debate will include randomly chosen questions (four per candidate), followed by two-minute answers per candidate in addition to a one-minute rebuttal/response.
Cindy Scoville, president and CEO of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, said the debate will serve as an educational opportunity for voters, especially for those who may be uncertain who to vote for.
“If you’re uncertain who to vote for, this is the place to really understand where those [candidates] stand on any of those areas,” said Scoville.
Jeff Caggiano, chairman of the Bristol Republican Town Committee, encouraged the public to attend the debate, which he said will give voters a chance to hear for themselves who will do the best job in Hartford.
“As a voter, your voice is stronger in statewide election this year and Connecticut does need a change,” said Caggiano, who applauded the chamber for continuing to give voters a chance to get to know local candidates. “Debates like this offer you an opportunity to determine the real character of our local candidates…and perhaps you might be able to ask an additional question and shake the hand of one of these candidates.”
Dean Kilbourne, chairman of the Bristol Democratic Town Committee, said the debate will allow voters to see how the candidate will represent constituents in Hartford, whether the candidate has an understanding of the issues facing, “from the bigger picture to the details,” and whether the candidate has the qualities and temperament of a leader.
“Our candidates welcome the opportunity to discuss the important issues facing our city,” said Kilbourne, adding that it is important to see the candidate’s ability to answer questions without a prepared text.
During the debate, each candidate also will have a one minute introduction and a two-minute wrap-up question/answer/statement per candidate. All of the invited candidates have confirmed they will be there, including:
House of Representatives:
Laura Bartok (D) – District 77
Cara C. Pavalock (R – Incumbent) – District 77
Whit Betts (R – Incumbent) – District 78
Krystal M. Myers (D) – District 78
Peter J. Del Mastro (R) – District 79
Christopher Ziogas (D) – District 79
Henri R. Martin (R – Incumbent) – District 31
Michael D. Nicastro (D) – District 31
Scoville said the debate questions will focus on broad topics like job growth, the quality of life, spending and taxes, workforce needs, infrastructure, healthcare, and transportation as well as miscellaneous topics.
“The topics are really general…but they’re the topics really being used in many of the debates within the area,” said Scoville. “These are hot topics in the state.”
Noting the state’s fiscal problems, Caggiano said he will be curious to hear how the candidates will fix the business climate in Connecticut.
“This election offers a referendum on the direction the governor and Democratic Party majority in the legislature have taken us,” said Caggiano, adding how the state has growing budget deficits. “We continue to pay more in taxes, and businesses and skilled people continue to leave the state in large numbers. It is difficult to do business in Connecticut and we are no longer competitive with our neighboring states and global markets.”
Kilbourne said he hopes to hear candidates give solutions to current issues at the debate, adding that state’s long-term financial issues go back to previous governors.
“We want elected officials who do more than just play the blame game. It is very frustrating that the Republicans canned response to all our woes is, ‘it’s Governor Malloy’s fault,’” said Kilbourne. “Our elected leaders need to step up and let us know what they are going to do—give us reasons why they should be elected.”
The state debate will be held on Monday, Oct. 17 inside the auditorium of St. Paul Catholic High School, 1001 Stafford Avenue, Bristol. Political signs or rallies will not be allowed. Flash photography also is not allowed inside the auditorium, and cell phones must be turned off during the debate.