July 5, 2022

33rd State Senate Candidates Cordial in Final debate

AREAWIDE— The three candidates for the open 33rd Senate District seat noted differences but appeared cordial Wednesday in the final public debate of the campaign in the 12-town district that was held in the auditorium of Morgan High School in Clinton.

Democrat Jim Crawford, Republican Art Linares, and Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag answered questions posed by students in the Morgan High School Political Club in the one hour session. About 80 voters turned out for the debate, including some Killingworth residents interested in a debate between the two candidates for the 35th House district seat that preceded the state senate face-off.

The 35th House District seat has been represented for the past two years by Crawford, a former Westbrook selectman. The district includes Clinton, Killingworth and most of Westbrook, but for the past decade Killingworth has been part of the Guilford-Madison-based 12th Senate District, not the 33rd.

The student questions included a one about about party affiliation, and what bothers them about their respective parties. Crawford, a former middle school teacher, said Democrats are the “party of opportunity,” while Schlag, a Haddam resident, said environmental issues, including the now cancelled Connecticut River land swap, led her to run on the Green Party line.

Linares, a 24-year-old political newcomer from Westbrook, acknowledged a disagreement he has with many national Republicans. ” I don’t believe in taking a pledge that you would never raise taxes in any circumstances,” he said, adding ” the only pledge I make is to help real people solve real problems.” But Linares stressed there is no need for new taxes in Connecticut today, criticizing Crawford for supporting the 2011 state budget that included tax increases while also pledging to work to reduce both the state income tax and taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.

Crawford the tax increases adopted last year were intended to address a $3.5 billion state budget shortfall that had developed in previous years. “There was no way we could cut our way out of that,” he said, adding the 2011 budget preserved state aid and grants for cities and towns. Crawford said spending cuts could cover any lingering state budget shortfall that is estimated to total less than one percent of total expenditures.

Schlag contended both Crawford and Linares would be too willing to follow political party lines at the Capitol. “There should be no such thing as “the aisle”, Schlag said, declaring she would be “your independent voice,” in the state senate.

The three candidates seeking to succeed retiring ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook had debated previously on Oct. 17 at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.