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Rep Wasserman Is Challenged By 'Working Families' Petitioner



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Rep Wasserman Is Challenged By ‘Working Families’ Petitioner

By John Voket &

Kendra Bobowick

Acknowledging that she is glad to be running in “very low-key fashion” with just a minor party independent challenger this Election Day, 106th District Representative Julia Wasserman has nonetheless been campaigning in recent weeks. When looking beyond her own race, however, Rep Wasserman said despite heated competitions on state and national levels, it is important for all candidates to remain issue-oriented.

Speaking at a recent “meet and greet” event in Sandy Hook, Rep Wasserman told The Bee, “We have to down play differences between politicians and talk more instead of battling. “

Focusing on some priorities among what she describes as “too many issues” for a single candidate to champion, Ms Wasserman said she is closely monitoring the planning process for redeveloping Fairfield Hills.

“There are still things they need help with,” she said of the Fairfield Hills Authority that is steering campus improvements and renovations.

Overall, she said Newtown has a lot of needs.

“It’s the 12th wealthiest town in the state and we have to fight for every dollar [of state funds],” she said. “Money at the state level is tight…”

In a separate conversation, Rep Wasserman said she will continue to fight to make all state agencies and offices accountable to the taxpayers who fund them, and to try and conserve taxpayer dollars for the most important initiatives by further eliminating waste and redundancy in state government.

Serving on the powerful Appropriations Committee for well over a decade, Rep Wasserman is in a unique position to recommend the levels of spending she feels are appropriate, no matter which legislative colleague presents the proposal.

On the legislative front, she is looking forward to the likely special session on energy proposed for November to discuss and possibly act on ways to further protect constituents from rapidly escalating energy prices. She said that gasoline prices are of particular concern although she is not convinced that the elimination of zone pricing will deliver the cost cutting benefits it initially promised.

Rep Wasserman said she also wants to revisit recent malpractice legislation.

“I understand that since the new law was passed, the number of cases has dropped but the awards are still incredibly high,” she said. Ms Wasserman wants to redirect some of the dollars aimed at reducing incidents of lead poisoning from building improvement programs to treatment of those legitimately diagnosed with lead poisoning, especially young children.

“Let’s spend our money to screen and treat those children,” she said. “Giving too much of the money to lead abatement [programs] may not provide the solution we are looking for.”

To address the escalating costs of health insurance, Rep Wasserman favors taking a close look at recent Massachusetts legislation, with the idea of considering a similar program here in Connecticut.

Locally she wants to support initiatives to ease congestion on local roads, as well as the roads that lead into Newtown. Rep Wasserman said she would call on the Department of Transportation to continue evaluating key intersections on state roads through Newtown, while demanding the agency fast track improvements to the intersection and exit ramp project from Interstate 84 at Exit 11.

To help alleviate traffic in town, she is calling for local officials to seriously consider mapping a new north/south route between Church Hill Road or Queen Street and Wasserman Way via the new Commerce Park development.

Rep Wasserman said she will continue her “intense scrutiny” of plans to permanently lower the water levels on Lakes Zoar and Lillinonah.

“The temporary lowering of water levels does enough damage to the environment, but I will not stand for any plans that propose the permanent lowering of water levels,” she said.

Ms Wasserman’s independent challenger, Stacey Zimmerman of Sandy Hook, is running as a “place holder” candidate — maintaining a ballot spot the Connecticut Working Families Party earned several years ago.

According to its website, Connecticut Working Families is a “grassroots organization of unions, community organizations and concerned citizens who share a commitment to justice and a passion for equality.”

Mr Zimmerman said he is supporting three key party agendas in this election including addressing legislative issues regarding the high cost of, and access to, quality health care.

“We have an obligation to solve the health care crisis in Connecticut,” he said in a written statement provided to The Bee this week. “There are great programs such as Kenny’s (sic) Community Center but they are Band-aids on a gaping wound. We must expand the state insurance pool to allow small business and the self employed the opportunity to participate at a reduced cost.”

The challenger said Connecticut must also offer subsidized programs to the uninsured and continue to access all federal monies available for health care on a road to a universal system that leaves know one behind.

The outsourcing of jobs that could otherwise be held by Connecticut citizens is another concern.

“As we solve the health care crisis you can start to solve the flight of Connecticut corporations,” Mr Zimmerman said. “American companies are not on a level playing ground. We need fair trade not free trade where our trade agreements consider environmental and labor laws nonnegotiable parts of each treaty.”

The candidate favors requiring state contractors disclose the location of where subcontracted products and services are coming from, and giving preference to Connecticut and US companies over foreign entities.

“When we lure companies into the state with tax breaks and economic incentives, we must hold them accountable [for] job creation and other terms of the agreements, or they will be held liable [to refund subsidies] and incentives that were given.”

Mr Zimmerman’s party is heavily supporting the initiation of a Connecticut’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

“Connecticut is one of the few states that does not have a EITC on the state income tax” he said. “The Federal program is one of the most effective at lifting the lower income earners up out of poverty and giving them a fair tax code.”

He said the state needs to implement a program that would complement the federal program as well as institute a property tax reform program that would ease the burden of taxation on middle-income homeowners.

“[We need] a $1,000 tax credit for all working families on their property taxes and a moratorium on property taxes for our seniors,” Mr Zimmerman said. “No one should lose their house because they can not afford an increase in their property taxes.”

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