House: 23rd District

REPLAY OF DEBATE

CANDIDATES

Mary Stone, Democrat

Endorsed - View The Day Editorial Endorsement

Occupation

Writer/Editor

Town

Old Lyme

Incumbent

No

Contact

Phone: 860-434-7754

Email:

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

60

Family

Mary Stone and Joel Hawkins have been married for 30 years. Their daughter Abby is 23.

Education

University of Illinois, BFA Industrial Design, 1982.

Civic Involvement

Old Lyme Land Trust, 1994–1998 Florence Griswold Museum and Lyme Historical Society, 1995–2000 Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, 1995–2008 Co-President, Friends of OL–PGN Library, 2004–2007 Public Access Television, 1995–2009 Comcast Cable Advisory Board, 2006–2008 Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools, 1996–2008 The Community Coalition, 2001–2008 Woman's Exchange of Old Lyme, 2003–present Voices for Good Government, 2002–present CASFY (Community Action for Substance-Free Youth), 2005–2009 Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee, 2011–present Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation, 2012–present Mary's service includes making the first documentary of Old Lyme's Historic District ("A Walking Tour of Lyme Street," 1998). She initiated videotaping Board of Education meetings to air on public access television (1997-1999), a practice that the Board of Selectmen also soon adopted. She served as President of the Friends of the OL-PGN Library for three years (2004-2007), during which time the Friends greatly increased their fundraising and provided the Library with its first wireless network, in addition to other new materials and technology.

Elected/appointed offices held

Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education: 2 terms, (1999-2007); Secretary, 2000-2003; Building Committee, 2000-2006; Communications Committee, 2000-2007. Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals: 2 terms, (2011– present), as an Alternate and a full Member. Secretary, 2013–present. Old Lyme Open Space Commission: Appointed as an Alternate in 2014.

Other government service

Poll worker in local, state, and federal elections.

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

Connecticut's economic edge can be restored by fair and equitable taxation for business and property owners, attracting and retaining good employers, and strengthening public education and environmental preservation. To achieve this, we will have to make some difficult decisions. The knowledge and experience gained in two decades of service to the Lyme–Old Lyme community make me the best candidate to serve our towns in Connecticut's General Assembly. I am a fiscal conservative who works across party lines to find the most compassionate, common sense solutions. On the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education, I wrote the first newsletter from the school district to taxpayers and parents, providing a window on every aspect of the school district and its finances. On the Building Committee to renovate our schools, I helped plan the scope of the High School renovation and did a great deal of preparation and community education for each referendum. In renovating our Middle School, I recommended renovating “as new,” thereby saving local taxpayers $2.2 million in bonding costs. Without a thorough knowledge of the process, those savings would not have been apparent. For the Zoning Board of Appeals, I research the best way to make our rulings more consistent, to better serve homeowners. On the Open Space Commission, we work to preserve precious land. On the Lyme-Old Lyme Education Foundation, we fund initiatives to test innovative educational concepts without using taxpayer money. I listen to people, research answers, and work hard for solutions. The goal is to increase transparency and accountability, thereby increasing public confidence. I advocate this approach to state government. Straightforward accounting practices and steady improvements in efficiency will restore confidence in our public institutions. This is the work I love, and you are the people I want to serve.

Estimates of the state's unfunded pension and benefit liability for retired teachers and state employees are in the tens of billions of dollars. Should the state continue offering a defined benefit pension plan or switch to some type of 401(k) defined contribution plan, which has become standard in the private sector? Please explain why you do or do not support such a change.

People need a plan to help them save for retirement and old age, but this plan must be renegotiated to the point where it is reasonable for both taxpayers and employees. Obviously, we can't afford to continue as before. However, we must not welch on the promises we have made. Therefore, we must be much more careful in our agreements going forward. Future pension plans must be negotiated differently. I support the changes negotiated in the last contract negotiations, which have resulted in decreases in our state's unfunded liabilities. Although the state legislature does not negotiate benefits between state employees and their employers, the legislature is in a position to either ratify or reject these negotiations. Therefore, I would be open to reviewing the defined benefit plan of all future employees, while honoring previous commitments made to current teachers, state employees, and current retirees.

If a bill came before the General Assembly to repeal or amend the gun control law passed last session after the school shootings in Newtown, would you vote to amend the law? If so, what would you want to change?

Let me be perfectly clear: I support the lawful and responsible possession of firearms. Although it isn't perfect, the last year's law worked: 99.6% of Connecticut gun and ammo owners chose to act responsibly by registering their weapons and ammo. Looking forward, we should continue to do background checks on gun and ammunition purchases. However, the “ammunition eligibility certificate” section of the law does not appear to be working in the way it was intended and should be amended. At the heart of every gun tragedy is an undiagnosed, untreated, or unresolved mental health issue. Over the past decades, Connecticut has closed many avenues of help for those needing mental health services. The allocation of public mental health resources should emphasize early intervention for children and adolescents. A stronger support system will help assure that people of all ages who need help can get it quickly.

Devin Carney, Republican

Occupation

Small businessman

Town

Old Saybrook

Incumbent

No

Contact

Phone: 860-388-7612

Email: carneyfor23@gmail.com

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

30

Family

Mother - Debra, Father - Paul, Sister - Shaine

Education

Graduated Old Saybrook High School in 2002, BA from Brandeis University in 2006

Civic Involvement

Lector at Grace Episcopal Church, The Kate (on the board fo their annual Oscar night fundraiser), Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries, Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce, ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, Career Beginnings, Gladeview

Elected/appointed offices held

N/A

Other government service

Served on various campaigns (statewide and local) including Carl Fortuna's landslide victory in 2011 and in charge of the 2nd District for a statewide election. Taught government to New Britain high schoolers. Substitute taught for schools in the district.

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

Hartford is full of career politicians and partisanship – I believe things must change and it's time for my generation to step up and be part of the solution. My life/work experience is quite substantial for my age and that has provided me the ability to relate and empathize with folks across the district. I, like many, have a home-based business and student loan debt, while facing a poor economy in Connecticut. Relevance is important in any position, and the office of the State Representative is no different. Too often I hear about people graduating from college, unable to move back to Connecticut due to the lack of opportunity, and many of those who do, end up working at low-paying jobs while attempting to pay off debt. As you know, 49% of people would leave if they could and Connecticut has the 2nd worst rate of retention for people aged 25-34, a critical group in building the economy for the future. My hope is to change this by working to promote job growth, reduce waste, make it easier to do business in Connecticut, alleviate costs on seniors, and allow families the affordability to grow. I will not allow party politics – or Hartford – to dictate how I vote. There is too much one-party rule; a diverse chorus of voices is necessary to pass the best legislation. I have proposed monthly sessions in each town across the district to understand how I can be the most effective voice for the people. I will use social media and technology to interact with the constituents as frequently as possible. In addition, I have a passion for public service. I have been involved in various volunteer organizations such as Grace Episcopal Church, OS Chamber of Commerce, Shoreline Soup Kitchens/Pantries, and the ASPCA.

Estimates of the state's unfunded pension and benefit liability for retired teachers and state employees are in the tens of billions of dollars. Should the state continue offering a defined benefit pension plan or switch to some type of 401(k) defined contribution plan, which has become standard in the private sector? Please explain why you do or do not support such a change.

Currently the state's pension crisis is upwards of $44 billion (possibly more dependent on alternative calculations). Those numbers would require everyone in Connecticut to pay over $12,000 of addition taxes to close the gap of the largest pension systems in the state. The state has taken funds from special accounts, such as the transportation fund, in order to pay off some of the debt – this is unacceptable. I support a change because the only other feasible way to lower the unfunded liabilities would be to raise taxes and/or cut services – no one wants that. Our debt is unmanageable and taxes are already some of the highest in the country. That, coupled with our high cost-of-living, would make Connecticut an even less desirable state for business, families, and seniors. A change to a defined contribution plan for new employees is fiscally responsible. Several states have led the way on this matter by implementing some form of defined-contribution plan. The three options are moving all new government employees to a defined-contribution, having a hybrid plan of benefit and contribution, or allowing a choice between defined-benefit and defined-contribution. Connecticut cannot afford to wait any longer and must, in the very least, move to one of these plans immediately. I believe placing all new government employees into a defined contribution plan is the best solution since it won't add further debt. This, combined with normal turnover in the workforce, can begin to lower the unfunded pension liability burden to more manageable levels. Should existing employees want to change to a defined-contribution, I would hope to provide them that option (possibly with incentives), but would not force them to do so. It is politicians who are at fault, not employees for singing a contract for a defined-benefit pension at the time of hire.

If a bill came before the General Assembly to repeal or amend the gun control law passed last session after the school shootings in Newtown, would you vote to amend the law? If so, what would you want to change?

I would vote to amend the law in order to bring in additional mental health resources and lower the burden on law-abiding gun owners. Connecticut is one of only six states that does not have outpatient commitment laws in the United States – I would advocate furthering the discussion on this with the hopes of implementation. Studies have proven that assisted outpatient treatment reduces homelessness, violence, incarceration, and caregiver (often familial) stress. I don't think it is a negative to have the community, and especially the family, more involved in the treatment of someone who is mentally ill. Identifying and intervening among adolescents with mental health issues is another strong way to identify potential future problems. This is a very tough issue that requires a lot of discussion – we didn't have it when the bill was passed. There was too much emphasis on the gun control aspect of the bill. SB 1160 was too strict when it came to how it affected law-abiding gun owners. I believe, in the very least, the deadlines should have been extended and there should not have been arbitrary numbers implemented for magazine capacity without public discussion. Magazines do not have serial numbers and a registry for them is an overextension of power and resources. Overall, it causes fear for many people, who have never done anything wrong, that they are a threat. Some previously law-abiding citizens could be charged with a misdemeanor or, in some cases, a Class D felony for not registering. I believe this abridges too much on Constitutional rights. Should the possibility for amendment come up, I would advocate for a public discussion, prior to the legislative vote, involving mental health experts, local gun manufacturers/owners, and law enforcement to determine what is/isn't workable and fair.

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