47th House District race is the third matchup between Dubitsky and Donnelly
The 47th state House District more resembles a Senate district in its geographic size and diverse makeup, with the northern part of Norwich thrown in with all or parts of eight rural or former mill towns.
The district covers parts of Norwich, Lisbon and Lebanon and all of Scotland, Chaplin, Hampton, Canterbury, Sprague and Franklin.
The race is a repeat of both the 2016 and 2018 elections, with three-term incumbent Republican and attorney Doug Dubitsky, 57, of Chaplin facing Democrat Kate Donnelly, 68, of Hampton. Donnelly is the former first selectwoman and is a partner owner in a resource marketing business and promotes education on solar and renewable energy. Donnelly now serves on the Regional District 11 Board of Education.
“Third time’s a charm,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly said she decided to challenge Dubitsky again because “our country is in crisis,” and needs change from the top position of the presidency down to local offices. She said the state's COVID-19 pandemic response needs good leaders who can work together and put science first.
Donnelly called it “shocking” that as an attorney, Dubitsky is suing the state challenging the mask mandate in schools, while schools, principals and teachers are working to find the safest ways to keep schools open.
“There’s numerous studies that show the effectiveness of masks,” Donnelly said. “It’s not a lot to ask of us as a country to work to stop this pandemic, and I don’t quite understand his reasoning. And I don’t think it represents well the people of this district.”
Dubitsky has been among the most conservative Republicans in the House, strongly opposing gun control measures, proposals on tolls and the police accountability act passed in summer. In 2019 he voted against a bill to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023. Dubitsky also has been a strong supporter of local farms and agribusiness.
Dubitsky railed against the more controversial aspects of the police accountability law. He said it was entirely unnecessary for the legislature to pass the law during a special session. Dubitsky said removing qualified immunity for officers — replacing it with a governmental immunity that would require an officer to reimburse costs if a court rules the officer acted in a “malicious, wanton or willful manner” — will lead good officers to leave the force and will raise costs for cities and towns.
Dubitsky said conflicting language on use of deadly force could cause officers to hesitate to defend themselves, putting their lives in danger.
“What this bill does is it puts officers at risk, and that puts the public at risk,” Dubitsky said.
Donnelly said the new police accountability law enacted a lot of provisions the state “really needed,” including body cameras, recommending civilian review boards and overall accountability. She called the bill fair to police and to the people affected by it.
“I hope that the police embrace these changes as making their jobs easier and safer,” Donnelly said, “and building bridges within communities that have lost trust in the police.”
She called the law “a good start,” but said there are always things that should be looked at for possible revisions.
As an attorney, Dubitsky has represented multiple parties in suits against the state. Dubitsky currently represents the Connecticut Freedom Alliance and two families challenging the state Department of Education’s mandate that students wear masks in school and represents fellow Republican state Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, in his challenge to Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dubitsky said the state has not proven that requiring children to wear masks all day in school is beneficial and said many parents object to the mask requirement in order to receive “equal access” to education. He told The Day in August when the appeal was filed in Hartford Superior Court that “study after study after study” have proven cloth masks do not prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that wearing masks help prevent people from spreading the virus.
Donnelly said as a school board member, she has seen how schools have made mask and social distancing requirements work.
“I don’t understand how anyone can listen to the news and read the recommendations of the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and (infectious disease director) Dr. Anthony Fauci and Yale schools and all these medical centers saying that the most effective single thing we can do is wear masks,” Donnelly said, “and have one legislator try to turn that around and put our whole state and all of our schools in jeopardy. It’s appalling.”
In 2018, Dubitsky also represented Southington Republican Sen. Joe Markley in his challenge to a $10 million study ordered by former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on the viability of electronic tolls, arguing the study bypassed legislative authority.
Donnelly said Gov. Lamont is doing a good job, following science and watching the COVID-19 numbers and taking action when cases climb. She said a lot of people can work at home, but a lot of people can’t. The state needs to create jobs that can be done safely.
“I’ve been really impressed with the mobilization of people to provide takeout meals,” Donnelly said. “Restaurants have adapted really well, and I think that’s really impressive. We might have to sacrifice a little bit in terms of our consuming, but I think we can still support those establishments in an effective way.”
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