Gov. Ned Lamont Credit: Screengrab

Gov. Ned Lamont and his Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski didn’t share a stage in a WFSB/ CT Insider taped, televised forum Thursday, but the candidates did clarify their positions on whether the COVID vaccine should be administered to school children. 

“I think people have the ability to keep themselves safe,” Lamont said. “It’s more like the flu.” 

He said he urges everyone to get vaccinated, but he said he wouldn’t mandate it as a requirement to attend school. 

“Yeah, the CDC recommended it and I recommended it too, but I’m not mandating it,” Lamont said. 

However, the ultimate decision will be up to Connecticut’s public health commissioner, who is nominated by the governor. 

Public Health Commissioner Manisha Jutanhi, Lamont’s public health commissioner, has said she doesn’t think it’s time yet for a mandate, but she didn’t rule it out in the future. 

Juthani released a statement in which she stressed the CDC panel vote earlier this month did not create a mandate for children to receive the COVID vaccine in order to attend school.

“This is a recommendation that is part of the standard process for every routine childhood vaccine that is covered under the [Vaccines for Children] program,” Juthani said. “This vote simply means that once COVID-19 vaccines are commercialized and no longer available under the Federal Government’s National COVID-19 Response, VFC providers will be able to order the vaccines through the Vaccines for Children program.”

Stefanowski said the state shouldn’t be forcing kids to get a COVID vaccination.

Bob Stefanowski Credit: Screengrab

“I’m vaccinated. My kids are vaccinated. I’ve got the booster, but I don’t think we should be forcing parents across the state of Connecticut to put it on their kids.”

Stefanowski said Lamont was “not real clear” on his answer the first time he was asked about it.

Connecticut’s handling of COVID and vaccines also fueled some of Lamont’s most outspoken critics. During the height of the pandemic, protesters opposed to mask mandates and business closures were a common sight at the governor’s press conferences.

Last August, opponents of a school masking requirement grew so rowdy at a back-to-school roundtable in Cheshire that the event was abruptly concluded and the governor was escorted back to his vehicle. 


While the economy is still the number one issue on voters minds, Stefanowski and Lamont were given an opportunity to also clarify their position on abortion. 

Stefanowski has been screaming at the top of his lungs that he’s pro-choice on the issue, but he is also in favor of parental notification in most instances. 

“I do believe in parental notification,” Stefanowski said. “I have to sign a form to let my daughter get a tattoo or get her ears pierced yet she could be sitting up in her room deciding whether to have a procedure like that. I think that parents should be involved in that decision. I think abortion should be limited to the first trimester.” 

Lamont was still against it. 

“I think it’s a solution looking for a problem,” Lamont said. “You go to Planned Parenthood, Dan, 95, 98 percent of those girls come in with a mother, come in with a parent, come in with a family member. Those 2 or 3% that don’t I’m afraid have a really challenging reason why they don’t feel comfortable doing that, and we made sure they get counseling, we made sure they get support.”


While the state’s violent and overall crime rates had declined from 2020 to 2021, other categories like rape and manslaughter have increased. 

“I think one of the great police forces in the world right here in Connecticut, we have one of the lowest crime rates in the country right here in Connecticut, so I don’t need a lot of scare mongering,” Lamont said. 

Stefanowski, who has promised to repeal the police accountability law, said the state police force took a no-confidence vote in Lamont. He said its partly why so many officers are leaving the force. 

“We’ve got the Hartford cops down 100 officers. We’ve got New Haven cops down 100 officers. We’ve got Bridgeport cops down 100 officers,” Stefanowski said. “And you know why they’re leaving?…. the biggest issue is respect. And in my humble view, this country and our state has lost respect for law enforcement. We’re going to bring it back.”

Lamont said “we’ve got great police. They do a really good job.” 

“There’s always union issues, so that does impact some of these things,” Lamont said. “Look, we just swore in another class of state police that’s extraordinary…some of the anxiety about that is going to be like when it was Dan, when said we’re going to have body cams and people said ‘oh, my God you don’t trust me’.” 

He said the police like the body cam because it protects them too.