Old Saybrook debaters take on housing, jobs

State Senate candidates for the 33rd District, from left, Democrat James Crawford, the Green Party's Melissa Schlag and Republican Art Linares participate Wednesday in a debate at the Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook.
State Senate candidates for the 33rd District, from left, Democrat James Crawford, the Green Party's Melissa Schlag and Republican Art Linares participate Wednesday in a debate at the Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook.

Old Saybrook — Candidates for the 23rd state House and 33rd state Senate districts debated the budget, unemployment and state programs at a forum Wednesday evening at Acton Public Library.

Day Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere moderated the forum, which the newspaper sponsored.

Marilyn Giuliano, a Republican, and Adam Stillman, a Democrat, discussed issues including balancing the budget and creating new jobs in the first half of the forum. The two candidates are vying for the 23rd House seat covering all or parts of Old Saybrook, Lyme, Old Lyme and Westbrook.

Giuliano, who is a psychologist at Mile Creek School in the Lyme-Old Lyme schools, is running for her sixth term in office. Stillman is an attorney who practices administrative law and serves on Old Saybrook’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

In response to a question on increasing efficiency in the state and its budget, Stillman said nonmandatory regionalization of certain services could be beneficial but mainly proposed a state loan-guarantee program to improve the housing market, which is tied to the economy.

“It’s very important to restore the housing market here in Connecticut,” he said.

Giuliano proposed working to recover fraud in human services. “That is a huge, untapped pool of potential savings that we can find in a budget,” she said.

Her other proposals included expanding the use of nonprofits to provide quality community services and privatizing services, such as for mental health, within the Department of Correction.

In response to a question on the candidates’ satisfaction with the jobs bill, Giuliano referenced the importance of small businesses within the state and the Small Business Express Program. Stillman agreed that small businesses were important but emphasized the need for larger industries to move to Connecticut.

The candidates agreed on certain issues, such as that the early release of prisoners for good behavior was problematic, since it can include the release of violent criminals.

For the second half of the debate, three candidates for the 33rd state Senate seat — Democrat James Crawford, Republican Art Linares, and Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag — debated on issues ranging from lowering unemployment to election campaigning. The 33rd Senate district covers all or parts of Clinton, Westbrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Haddam, East Haddam, East Hampton, Portland, Lyme, Colchester, and Old Saybrook.

State Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, is not seeking re-election. She has served in the Senate since 1993.

Crawford is currently the state representative for the 35th House district covering Clinton, Killingworth and Westbrook. Linares has worked for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and co-founded a solar energy company. Schlag has participated in a campaign to defeat the Haddam land swap proposal.

On the issue of job creation, Schlag stressed the need for transparency for large corporations receiving subsidies and reforming the tax structure. Linares proposed rolling back taxes for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Crawford said he was proud of incentives the state offers companies such as solar energy companies, as well as services for veterans and tax credits for hiring new employees.

The three candidates were asked how they would prevent young adults from leaving the state.

“I think it starts with getting young people in office to have a voice in Hartford,” Linares said. He referenced the importance of promoting affordability in the state, beginning with taxes.

Crawford, a teacher who once had Linares as a student, said jobs and affordable housing will keep young people in the state. He said he was proud of a bill he co-sponsored to allow students over age 16 to serve in internships at manufacturing facilities.

Schlag proposed reforming the tax structure for small businesses and the general public so the middle class can create jobs. “If we keep pressuring the middle class with extra taxes, nobody is going to want to stay here,” she said.



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