My thoughts on the Hometown Publications debate
On Monday, October 12th, I debated my opponent, John Harkins, before the Hometown Publications editorial board. Stratford Star editor Fred Musante published his account of the debate on the Valley Gazette website.
I imagine it will also show up on the Star website at some point. As of 10/16, the article is also on the Star website and appeared above the fold in last week's print edition. The article covers very well what was said and I hope voters will take a few minutes to read it.
Mr. Harkins continues to deny that property tax reform is a state issue. He is clearly out of touch with his constituents. The state must help towns become less reliant on property taxes by significantly increasing education funding. This must be done soon. This isn't just a theoretical issue. High property taxes are pushing our neighbors out of the homes where they have lived for decades! What kind of reward is that for someone who has helped build this community (and paid taxes) for all those years? Under-funded schools are threatening the bright future of Stratford's children. These are huge issues for the community and we need all hands on deck -- local, state and federal officials -- dealing with them. Mr. Harkins seems content to just play the blame game instead of stepping up to the plate and taking charge.
There are a few minor corrections I have regarding the article:
- I am a software engineer at FUJIFILM Medical Systems doing R&D work in radiology technology. (The article said I work at Fuji Films.)
- I didn't characterize as 'bad' the Town Council's past decisions to spend the fund balance and underfund the pensions. I would describe those fiscal choices at best as quick fixes, at worst as short-sighted moves that have now caught up with us. As long as we continue to be shortchanged money from Hartford, our backs will continue to be up against the wall and we'll continue to be forced to make impossible compromises. This situation must change and with a new State Representative in Hartford, there will be hope for progress again.
Also, a few key points were left out of the article. The 2009 parking garage that Mr. Harkins boasts about will be woefully inadequate the day it opens. Over 1,200 people have signed up for the five-year waiting list for parking permits. $12 million for a net of 400 new spaces in 2009 just won't cut it. We may not have another chance to improve the dire parking situation for 10 or 20 years. Let's do it right the first time for a change.
On health care, I stressed how important it was to make sure the hundreds of thousands (not just 100,000) of Connecticut residents currently uninsured have access to preventative treatments. This will not only improve public health, but it should also be more cost-effective since early detection technologies, like those I help develop, will allow illnesses to be treated before they become expensive and life-threatening emergencies. This will also reduce the non-emergency traffic at ERs, which will further improve treatment of real emergencies. Stunningly, Mr. Harkins had absolutely no response to any of this and actually suggested, as accurately reported in the article, that mandated coverage for things like mammograms should be cut from health plans!
I closed by mentioning my strong support of stem cell research, something Harkins has voted against both in 2005 and 2006. This puts me much more in line with the thinking of mainstream Stratford voters. Stem cell research is an important public health initiative. Stem cell research has broad support but President Bush used the only veto of presidency to oppose Federal support of stem cell research and Mr. Harkins seems to think Connecticut should follow his lead. I strongly disagree. We need to support this research to do the right thing for current and future sufferers of the wide variety of conditions that may benefit from the research.