Published September 19. 2012 4:00PM Updated September 19. 2012 11:42PM
State Sen. Andrea Stillman said the Connecticut Republican Party chairman's claim that she has moved to Florida, or plans to soon after the election, is an outright lie and an attempt to besmirch her years of service to the residents of the 20th District.
"We should be talking about growing jobs, education reform and the economy of Connecticut," she said Wednesday. "That's what an election is about — what is your vision for the future of Connecticut and especially the people of the 20th District?"
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. released a statement Wednesday stating that Stillman, through a family trust, purchased a condominium in Boynton Beach, Fla., for $85,000 in June 2011 and is moving there to avoid state and federal taxes.
At a candidates' forum organized by The Day Sept. 5, Republican challenger Mike Doyle said the district needs a senator who lives and works in the state the entire year, a reference to the Florida rumor.
The fact that the party reiterated Doyle's accusation instead of addressing the issues, Stillman said, must mean "they don't have an agenda."
Labriola asked Stillman to prove she lives in Connecticut for more than half of the year, commit to remaining in the state while serving in the legislature and promise not to use the homestead property tax exemption available in Florida to avoid taxes in Connecticut.
He said it was "ironic" that Stillman, who enacted new taxes and fees as a member of the Finance Committee, "appears to be, at a minimum, preparing to flee the state" to avoid paying those taxes.
Stillman said her husband bought the condo for a vacation home. This year she said she spent 10 days there in June, after the special session had ended.
Stillman said she has lived in Waterford for nearly 38 years and has no plans to move.
"I think after all these years, the people who support me know me. They know my honesty," she said. "They're aware of my sincerity in my work, and they're aware of how hard I work for them. And I believe most people will look upon this ridiculousness as just that."
The deputy majority leader of the Senate and Senate chairwoman of the legislature's Education Committee, Stillman is serving her fourth term representing East Lyme, New London, Old Lyme, Salem, Waterford, most of Montville and half of Old Saybrook. After the election, due to redistricting, it will also include more of Montville and all of Bozrah.
Doyle, a New London native, has 21 years of experience in state service, including six years as executive assistant to the Commissioner of the Department of Correction and 12 years as former director of the Governor's Eastern Connecticut Office.