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Lockwood speaks to voters at New London library forum

New London In the basement of the city's public library Tuesday night, Republican candidate for the 39th District General Assembly seat Andrew R. Lockwood Sr. held a question-and-answer session with about a dozen voters that touched on a slew of issues facing the city and state.

Lockwood is vying to unseat incumbent Democrat Ernest Hewett, who has represented the 39th District for 10 years.

During the 90-minute forum, Lockwood said he would seek to create jobs in the shipping industry by utilizing New London's deepwater port, highway access and railroads, and that he would work with tax-exempt organizations to try to lighten the burden on city taxpayers.

"If nothing more, if I win this election, it will set a new message in southeastern Connecticut that New London cares about changing their direction," Lockwood said. "A lot of the issues here could be changed just by a changing of the guard to show new light and new hope."

Lockwood scheduled the forum after Hewett declined to participate in a debate co-sponsored by The Day and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut previously scheduled for Tuesday.

"Him not showing up to the debate doesn't hurt me, it hurts the voters of New London who want to be informed and discuss his record," Lockwood said. "I think voters should hear both sides of the coin, and I can tell you my side of the coin is night and day from his."

Lockwood ran against Hewett four years ago and the two debated during that campaign. But Hewett said on Tuesday that he will not debate Lockwood this time around.

"The last time that Andrew Lockwood ran against me, there were a lot of things that Andrew said that weren't true. One of the things he said about me is that I don't live on Colman Street. I've been living here for almost 40 years now, he lives across the street from me," Hewett said by phone Tuesday afternoon. "I don't choose to debate someone who chooses to play dirty."

Hewett said he wants to build on his decade of experience in Hartford so that New London wields greater influence over decisions made at the state level.

"I have been involved in politics for the last 18 years, and I've been in Hartford for the last 10 years. Hartford is about relationships, it's about knowing who to go to and where to go to get what you need for your district," Hewett said. "The relationships I have in Hartford are very, very important. For someone to go there on their maiden voyage would set us back a little bit."

c.young@theday.com

Twitter: @ColinAYoung

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