The Mansfield League of Women Voters hosted its annual Candidates Night Wednesday evening at E.O. Smith Regional High School.
Candidates received questions from both the LWV and the audience in a cumulative time format, whereby each candidate's cumulative response time was limited to 10 minutes.
Below, you'll find a few of the important questions posed last night accompanied by the candidate's full responses.
Gregory Haddad (D, WF) is running unopposed for the 54th State Representative District.
Question: In this time of high unemployment, what would be your priority to improve our state’s economy?
Haddad: Thank you for the question. I think it’s a good one, and an important one. It seems to be one that’s on most people’s minds and I think it’s the most important issue of this election. I’m very proud to serve on the Commerce Committee and the Higher Education Committee in the general assembly and in doing so I’ve been able to support some initiatives that marry those two concepts. In particular, one thing that we’ve done that will help create new start-up companies out of the new innovation and technology research that’s coming out of UConn is the change in the program that we have in the state of Connecticut called Pre-Seed that provides initial support for some small start-up companies and those companies that were coming out of the University of Connecticut were previously ineligible to receive that state support which seemed to me as a member of the Commerce Committee and our higher Education Committee ridiculous. Those companies have the potential to create additional jobs and the state itself has an interest in seeing those companies succeed because the university owns the intellectual property that they’re trying to commercialize, so we changed that. That’s one of the first things that I did as a state representative. More importantly, I think that we’ve made a number of significant investments in the University of Connecticut in Farmington and here in Storrs with the bioscience initiative in Farmington and the Technology Park here in Storrs. We do owe a small degree of credit to our state senate president Don Williams. These projects will help us to capitalize again on innovation and research that’s already ongoing at the university. We already know that there are companies that would like to collaborate with the university to create more jobs and we need to facilitate that. Lastly I’ll say that as a member of the Commerce Committee, we’ve worked very hard on a jobs initiative that established a number of programs: the small business express program, the step-up program, to mention a few. These are programs that help small businesses where we know most of the new jobs will be created with additional capital, low-interest loans and it helps to subsidize job training for unemployed citizens who have been unemployed for six months or more and are being hired by a small business. I think a combination of all these efforts will help create a more vibrant economy and I’m proud to say that that’s part of my record.
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Question: The legislature has not dealt with fully funding the state retirement system in recent sessions. What, if anything are you prepared to do about this?
Haddad: Our commitment to our state employees is very important. We need to make sure that their pensions are adequately financed as the economy recovers and as revenues to the state are returned as our state gets itself back on its feet. I think that much of the new revenue should go towards our pension funds so that we can come in compliance with where we ought to be.
Question: What will be your priority in this coming session?
Haddad: Jobs and keeping our system of education affordable.