state legislature League to hold candidate debates
GREENWICH — With three races for the state legislature on the ballot in November, Greenwich voters will have a choice on their hands no matter where they live.
The League of Women Voters of Greenwich has announced two debates for Oct. 10 to help voters learn about candidates vying to represent them.
Both debates will take place inside the main meeting room at Town Hall: one between incumbent State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-36, and his Democratic challenger Alexandra Bergstein beginning at 7 p.m.; the other, at approximately 7:45 p.m., covering the 150th and 151st State House District races.
The second debate will have all four of the candidates taking part. In the 150th District, incumbent Republican State Rep. Michael Bocchino is running against Democrat Stephen Meskers, and in the 151st District, incumbent Republican State Rep. Fred Camillo is in a race with Democrat Laura Kostin.
The second debate is set to last until 9 p.m. according to the league.
“It is a first for me as I have always debated my opponents in one-on-one settings,” Camillo said. “So, while it will be interesting to have two other candidates up there, I am confident that records and visions relevant to our jobs will be focused on, and not distractions like we are seeing in other races and like we saw in 2016. The voters deserve to hear the issues we deal with here in our state, our records, our visions and our firsthand knowledge of those issues.”
Kostin, a first-time candidate and a member of Greenwich’s Representative Town Meeting, said participants have not been given much information about the format, but she hopes the public arrives focused on issues.
“Obviously I hope there is a large turnout for the event and I hope people will be engaged on the issues even though it is not a presidential year where everyone is pretty attuned and it trickles down to the other races,” Kostin said. “This will be a chance to show my plans for the state and where I stand on issues like the economy and transportation. I hope the league will record it and that more people will be able to see it.”
Bocchino said he is hopeful the format will allow for ample time for quality debate at such a “critical time” in the state.
“Debates are always important during elections,” Bocchino said. “Voters need to be well informed regarding the issues that directly face our state and not be distracted by issues that have very little effect on the situation here in Connecticut.”
Meskers, also a first-time candidate and member of the RTM, said a lot of the people who attend devates have already decided on which candidate they support. He is hoping undecided voters can attend and get to know the the candidates and hear about the issues.
“It’s so important for the voters to know who is representing them so they can trust them to make the right and sane decisions,” Meskers said. “This format should work because the issues cut across all the districts in this state and it will highlight the differences between the parties and the candidates.”
Members of the public are invited to attend the Oct. 10 debate but seating is limited.
The 36th State Senate District includes all of Greenwich and parts of Stamford and New Canaan. Frantz and Bergstein are to meet twice more, once at a debate in New Canaan on Oct. 22 and also at a candidate forum in North Stamford on Oct. 16.
“I very much look forward to the upcoming debates and welcome my opponent to the race,” Frantz said. “Debates are always important in getting the message out to folks either directly or indirectly and in highlighting the differences in candidate positions on the issues.”
Bergstein said it would be a great chance for the voters to learn their views and see first-hand the difference between the candidates.
“I’ve spoken with thousands of voters, Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated, and they are united in their concern for Connecticut’s fiscal health and the encroachments on our rights and values from the Trump administration,” Bergstein said.
Members of the public will have the chance to submit written questions for the candidates to answer. Each question will be reviewed by the league’s bipartisan screening committee for relevance to the race and to avoid duplication with other questions.
The league will publish its voters’ guide online on Oct. 15, and a print version of the guide will be available in the Nov. 1 edition of Greenwich Time.