Four candidates for U.S. Representative in Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District offered diverse solutions Monday night to change a view of Hartford as a “dangerous” and “dying city.”
The candidates met at the Hartford Public Library for a debate sponsored by The Hartford Votes/Hartford Vota Coalition. The crowd also proved diverse and sometimes rowdy. Democratic and Republican supporters mixed with Tea Party members and Socialist Action Party supporters.
Moderator and WFSB anchor Dennis House asked candidates how they planned to address Hartford’s unemployment, struggling economy and homelessness.
Republican Ann Brickley said private enterprise must succeed before jobs can increase.
“Small business owners need to know what the government is doing in order to succeed,” she said. She said federal ideas like cap and trade and healthcare mandates awaiting implementation impose “job killing taxes” on small businesses.
“Small businesses may not want to hire at the risk of paying more,” she said.
Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, the fourth highest-ranking member in the House caucus, lauded spending on domestic manufacturing to create jobs.
“Made in America is the way to go,” he said. Larson said his father worked for Pratt & Whitney, helping him understand the importance of national defense and the jobs created by the production of military goods.
Socialist Action candidate Christopher Hutchinson voiced the far left, calling for a “mass jobs program” funded by money currently used for war efforts.
“We need to defund the military completely and bring all our brothers and sisters home,” he said.
Activist, journalist, soon-to-be lawyer and Green Party candidate Kenneth J. Krayeske fell more right of Hutchinson. Krayeske supports a shift from wartime manufacturing to “peacetime manufacturing,” which would still create jobs while detracting from the war effort. He also said high tax rates drive people out of Hartford and keep joblessness high.
“Tax rates for the wealthiest 1 percent of people are too low,” he said. “Healthcare is a fundamental human right. Education and housing are fundamental human rights. Congress has an obligation to ensure these because right now we’re throwing people away like they don’t matter.”
House also asked whether Hartford represented an unsafe city made for the “poor.” Krayeske said drugs perpetuate the violence. Legalizing marijuana, medicalizing heroin and taxing drugs will make the community safer, eliminating guns in drug related incidents.
Larson disagreed and did not touch the legalization of any drug. Instead, he praised all Hartford offers to its citizens.
“This city is coming alive,” he said. “Arts are making it alive. Each of us needs to make sure we do what we can to make this city great.”
Brickley, who also did not touch the drug issue, said more charter schools will improve Hartford’s unsafe stigma.
“It begins with education and that’s where the community starts,” she said.
Hutchinson again proposed taking from the war budget and putting the money toward social programs.
“When you cut social programs, people turn to crime,” he said.