House: 38th District

REPLAY OF DEBATE

CANDIDATES

Billy G. Collins, Green

Occupation

Professor

Town

Waterford

Incumbent

No

Contact

Phone: 860-287-3022

Email: billcollins.wgp@gmail.com

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

78

Family

wife: Margaret Welch children: Michael Collins, Billie Collins, Patty Collins, and Baird Welch-Collins

Education

Emporia State University: 1961: BS Indiana University: 1964: MAT Kansas State University: 1970: MA and Ph.D.

Civic Involvement

Teacher: Jefferson County, CO / Winfield, KS / Univ. of RI / Waterford High School / Community College of RI Union Member: AAUP and NEA

Elected/appointed offices held

None

Other government service

United States Navy: 1954-1958

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

I believe that I can best serve District 38 as a state representative because of my experience in education and concern for my community. As a teacher for over thirty years, I have a unique understanding of educational issues and believe that public education is being threatened by corporate-driven government interference. Unlike the mainstream Republican and Democratic parties, I remain consistently opposed to the Common Core implementation in Connecticut's schools and oppose the push to privatize our public education. The State of Connecticut as a coastal region is impacted by our oceans and bears a responsibility to protect this fragile environment. I firmly believe that our environment is reaching a point of no return in terms of climate change and its threat to life and property. As a member of the Green Party, I consider this concern more of a priority than commonly expressed by the Democratic and Republican parties, whose priorities frequently reflect corporate interests. Finally, I know first-hand the hardship of poverty. Raised in poverty by a single mother, I understand that growing up without basic needs significantly compromises the quality of life. I am convinced that raising the minimum working wage to $15.00 an hour will result in better lives for our hardest working citizens, as well as return money to support our local businesses. I also know that the cost of living for Connecticut residents is driving many older people from their homes and younger people from the state and jobs in our local communities. I propose lowering property taxes in exchange for raising taxes on the top 1% and major corporations to take the burden off working and middle class families.

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.

I would recommend that state employees be given the option of a 401(k) or a retirement fund such as TIAA CREF. However, other options exist. I also advocate that the State of Connecticut should make teachers and state employees eligible for social security benefits because that would supplement retirement incomes. I believe that we owe our teachers and state employees what was promised when they began their careers/employment. In addition, I recommend the creation of a state bank into which all taxes, state revenues, and retirement money be deposited, rather than in private banks. This would provide increased revenues in the form of interest and stock market returns and greatly reduce the state's financial difficulties, saving the state millions of dollars a year. A state banking system would also allow low-interest loans to small businesses and college students.

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?

In general, I support the law passed by the legislature in 2013, and I personally will not advocate for any changes in that law. We do not need a heavily armed populace or a militarized police force.

Marc Balestracci, Democrat

Occupation

Police Officer (Sergeant)

Town

Waterford

Incumbent

No

Contact

Phone: 860-917-0395

Email: Balestracci2014@gmail.com

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

39

Family

Married to wife Katie. Been together over 20 years. We have two teenage daughters. One is a sophomore in high school while other is a freshman at a state university.

Education

Education: Currently completing college education with an anticipated graduation in 2015. (Major-Criminal Justice) Three Rivers Community College

Civic Involvement

Volunteering: Coordinator: Annual WPD Citizen's Academy (All volunteer community program) Participant:Tip-A-Cop Special Olympics fundraisers Participant: Make-A-Wish Volleyball fundraisers Participant: Special Olympics/Law Enforcement basketball fundraisers Waterford Police Benevolent Association-President 2012-2013 Co-organize annual community event with Waterford Youth Services (So You think You can Dance Waterford/Dancing With the Stars Waterford/ WPD vs. Harlem All-Stars Comedy basketball) Created Friday night basketball league for Waterford youth Youth Education Instructor (Through Police Department) Member: Waterford Underage Drinking Task Force (through Police Department)

Elected/appointed offices held

Political Experience: Waterford R.T.M. -Elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2013 Chairman of the Public Safety Committee-current Member of Public Health and Recreation Committee-current Justice of the Peace-current

Other government service

Military Experience: Connecticut Army National Guard-1993-2001(6 Active/2 Inactive) Basic Training-Fort Jackson, South Carolina Skill Training-Fort Lee, Virginia Unit Assigned-1109th AVCRAD, Groton, Connecticut

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

This position requires communication, the ability to work with others and the discipline to properly represent those who elected him/her. In my experience as a Representative on Waterford's R.T.M., I have proven my ability to communicate my concerns and views, listen to those affected and use my vote to represent those who elected me. I have also been able to successfully work with others on the R.T.M. regardless of political affiliation. In my professional experience as a police officer, I have demonstrated the ability to solve problems, bring people together and work tirelessly for the community. My military experience has also provided me leadership skills, self discipline and attention to detail. I have been fortunate to have had amazing local leaders not only share their wisdom, experience and concerns, but to also endorse my candidacy. As a person who takes great pride in his family, his community and his work, I would be honored to represent the people in the 38th district.

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.

I would like to see the state continue to offer a defined benefit pension plan for retired teachers and state employees. In order to do this, the State of Connecticut must fund these obligations properly. Should it be through the redirection of money already in the state budget, ensuring that a percentage of any annual state surplus be allocated to these obligations or by working with the Unions to develop new contribution ratios, we must work together to find solutions to this issue. As many of these employees are represented by collective bargaining units, if the two sides both felt that the 401(k) defined contribution plan was best and negotiated in good faith a fair and reasonable agreement, then I would support that effort.

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?

If a bill came before the General Assembly to repeal or amend the gun control law, I would not vote in favor of it. Although I do support legal and responsible gun ownership, I feel that the law as it currently stands is reasonable and provides some benefits to the citizens of Connecticut. Moving forward, I would not seek additional restrictions on gun ownership. We need to focus the conversation on those who illegally possess guns, the mental health component of those with access to guns as well as the social issues that play a role in gun violence.

Kathleen M. McCarty, Republican

Endorsed - View The Day Editorial Endorsement

Editor's note: This version updates an earlier version that incorrectly had a different candidate's response to the question posed to McCarty on the gun control law.

Occupation

Retired educator, small business owner

Town

Waterford

Incumbent

No

Contact

Phone: 860-213-3005

Email: kmccarty@gmail.com

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

64

Family

Two adult daughters, three grandchildren

Education

B.A. Sacred Heart University, (Université Aix-en Marseille) M.A.T, Fairfield University, M.A. Fordham University, Ph.D. Candidate U.Conn

Civic Involvement

Founding member of the Waterford Education Foundation Former 1st Lieutenant, Civil Air Patrol Member of the USSCT Commissioning Committee Former member of Goshen Coastal Conservancy USSC Education Committee

Elected/appointed offices held

Chairman, and member of the Waterford Board of Education Chairman, Board of Education, Policy Committee Former Chairman and current member of the Board of Trustees, TVCCA Chairman, Republican Town Committee Justice of the Peace Member of the Governing Board for the Friendship School Former Chairman and member of the MetroCast Advisory Council

Other government service

Waterford Republican Women President of the Connecticut Federation of Republican Women NFRW, Board of Directors

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

First, it is a privilege to be the Republican candidate for the legislature in the 38th district encompassing Waterford and a part of Montville. My adult life has been devoted to a variety of community service and to helping others in an effort to improve the quality of life for all residents. My enduring passion to improve and protect our community by listening to all concerns and building consensus coupled with my long-standing local government and leadership experience, position me well to be the next, most qualified, and best legislator for the district. As a small business owner, educator, and long standing chairman and member of the Waterford Board of Education, I have extensive experience with many of the complex issues facing both the education and business communities today. The economy and education are two major areas that are impacted on a continuous basis through legislative action and policy setting in Hartford. I know firsthand the struggles and trials that many Connecticut families, seniors and businesses are facing today as a result, in large part, of the numerous misguided policies, unfunded mandates, excessive taxation, and over burdensome regulations enacted far too frequently by the legislature. As a legislator, I will work tirelessly in a bipartisan, pro-active, open and transparent manner (as I have done for many years on the local level) for the betterment of my community and the state. My experienced leadership, replete with a proven track record of accomplishments, will foster innovative solutions to: restore Connecticut to a friendlier business climate, create more jobs, increase economic growth, improve the quality of education, and protect the health and safety of all residents. I am the best candidate because I will be a full-time legislator who will dedicate the time and energy to protecting the interests of all constituents.

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.

The State of Connecticut has not invested in or funded properly the retired teachers and state employees pension and benefit liability in the past. Some projections have indicated that the state pension fund may not remain solvent with a debt in excess of tens of billions of dollars. The state pension system, according to some sources, could possibly face bankruptcy in the not too distant future due to mismanagement. This is one of the major reasons that the state pension system is broken. Rather than meeting its commitment and obligation to retirees, the state continues with its out of control spending and borrowing ignoring its responsibilities. In order to make any meaningful change or decision, a complete analysis of a 401-k defined contribution plan would have to be taken with input and negotiations from all parties. At this time, it does not seem that changing new state employees to a defined contribution plan would save the state money. Instead the state should curtail its spending, set critical priorities, and produce a budget that is fair and transparent to begin the process of meeting its long-term obligations. Having said that, a restructuring of the state pension plan may be on the horizon, if the state continues with its current practices.

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?

The gun control law that passed in the last legislative session was one of the most controversial laws passed by the General Assembly recently. While legal gun owners dislike the new law for just reasons, the bill does contain many excellent parts to it, namely: the enhancement of mental health resources, requirements for first aid training, timelier insurance responses, and the establishment of school security and safety plans and procedures. I believe, however, that more attention in the bill should have been given by the legislature to these two provisions, mental health and school security, with much less infringement on the rights of legal gun owners and law abiding citizens. The ultimate goal for all is to prevent gun violence, and there is no evidence or data to suggest that gun violence has been curtailed by the gun law.

As a state, we must work together with the schools, professionals, healthcare givers, doctors, community services, and families in order to identify, treat, and help individuals suffering from mental illness. The mental health issues in the state have been neglected for far too long. My family has worked over the decades to educate the public on these very issues, and introduced the Iris as the national symbol for mental illness awareness, accepted by the National Alliance and Connecticut Alliance for Mental Illness. Early identification and early intervention with appropriate counseling and medication are crucial components to producing positive and enduring mental health outcomes.

Finally, the legislature did pass subsequently another bill that restored some of the rights taken from legal gun owners, this was a move in the right direction. Depending on additional information regarding gun violence, along with the results from the completed report from the Behavioral Health Services Task Force, I would consider an amendment to the bill.

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