By Katelyn DeAgro ’17 and Jack Beck ’18
With November fast approaching, many people are focused on the ongoing debates and rivalry between presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. However, local elections may have a far greater impact on the lives of Westport residents.
Voters will be seeing Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and Catherine Walsh face off in notoriously competitive 136th district. Additionally, Senator Toni Boucher will face off against Carolanne Curry for the 26th district nomination.
Olivia Payne ’18, an active member of the Young Democrats club, believes that through her involvement in the club she was able to make an informed decision on who she might endorse given the chance.
“I have many opinions that align with Steinberg’s, such as his [support] of Planned Parenthood and the CBIA, so that’s a big reason why I like him,” Payne said. “Another thing would be his experience of being a state representative and his great voting record, both things that make him a strong candidate.”
While Steinberg does have the advantage of incumbency in the 136th district, Walsh has experience when serving as the Town Zoning Chair, so this race will continue to be watched very closely.
Steinberg who has held the office for six years has three main objectives if he gains the office for his fourth term.
“I believe the budget sustainability is the top priority, which would be helped if we could convince the unions to return to the bargaining table to renegotiate unaffordable state worker pension and healthcare benefits. Secondly, decades of neglect have allowed our transportation infrastructure to crumble, so investing in our transportation system is critical. Lastly, it is essential that we address economic revitalization in the state.”
Currently the Democrats hold majorities in both the Senate (21-15) and the House of Representatives (87-64). Jonathan Steinberg, an incumbent Democrat, expects to win re-election, while Republican Toni Boucher looks to continue as the only female Republican senator in Connecticut.
As for the 26th district nomination, Boucher hopes to return jobs and people to Connecticut by cutting taxes, replacing expensive state pensions with 401(k)s and reducing the cost and size of the state government.
As reported by her campaign’s website, “The proposed Republican budget would restore funding to core social services Democrats have proposed cutting this year, while also making needed cuts and implementing new policies that generate long-term savings.”
Curry, the current Westport Planning and Zoning Alternate, is making the run for senate with the intentions of improving the public school system, capping property taxes, and safeguarding the elderly.
According to Curry’s campaign’s website, “We must make Connecticut a place we can afford to live. Putting a lid on property taxes is a priority that [I] take very seriously for you and your children’s future.”
Walsh has similar multi-point objectives that she describes as “big ticket items that need to be addressed immediately” if she were to gain the office.
“It’s the labor contracts that needs to be addressed. Secondly, there is another thing called prevailing wage which is a sweetheart deal to unions that inflates the cost of any municipal project by about 20 to 30 percent,” Walsh said.
Wishing to make this local, Walsh gives the example of Wakeman Town Farm. This project was in excess of $100,000 and was therefore under prevailing wage law. According to Walsh, this turned a 750,000 dollar job into a million dollar job. “And the third thing is a spending cap that was initiated back when they put in income tax back in 1991 and it was never ratified or adhered to.”
Alejandro Perez Elorza ’18 holds Walsh in high regard as a state representative candidate.
“She is willing to step up to Governor Malloy, who in my opinion has done a horrible job. Governor Malloy has increased property taxes on the middle class, forcing multiple middle class families to leave the state,” Perez Elorza said. “Cathy Walsh, I believe, can cut the property taxes and bring back those families.”
One point that all candidates can agree on is that this is a pivotal election to get out and vote.
“I think there is a strong argument that local politicians have the biggest impact on your day to day life. Also your vote statistically counts for more in a local election, thus giving you a bigger voice,” said Nick Roehm ’17, President of the Foreign Affairs club.