NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Election season is upon us. While the spotlight is shining on the presidential race, a local election is drawing some heat: the race for Connecticut’s Third Congressional District.
On Thursday, three candidates in the race for a seat in Congress faced off in “The 3rd U.S. Congressional Debate.”
For 29 years, Representative Rosa DeLauro has served the district, which stretches from the Long Island Sound and New Haven, to the Naugatuck Valley and Waterbury.
Real estate developer Margaret Streicker and doctor Justin Paglino took on the incumbent in an hour-long debate.
News 8 was proud to partner with the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven to bring the candidates together for the event.
WATCH: Candidates for CT’s 3rd Congressional District face off in lightning round
The first topic of the evening was about the economy.
Question: What will you do to stimulate the economy to cover the immediate crisis, which also includes helping local government, and then bring jobs back?
The second question was about the candidates supporting President Donald Trump. It circled around Streicker (R), who said she’s the first Jewish woman to represent the GOP in 40 years.
Question: Mrs. Streicker, the president has called violent anti-Jewish white supremacists demonstrators in Charlottesville “good people,” refused to denounced white supremacist groups, received the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, ordered the U.S. Army to attack peaceful American demonstrators and refused to commit to accepting the outcome of the upcoming election. As a Jewish person, does that make you feel at all uncomfortable supporting his reelection or running on the same ticket?
“I wholeheartedly condemn bigotry and racism in all its forms. To suggest that neo-Natzis are acceptable to me, it’s just horrific,” she said. “We also have a huge problem within Congress and the rise of anti-Semitism within the hallowed halls of our United States Congress…It has to end.”
“I think it is extraordinary that the president of the United States cannot find it within his conscience and within humanity to immediately decry white supremacy, neo-Natizs, and be able to say that there are good people on both sides of what happened in Charlottesville,” DeLauro said. “It is incredible [that] we have a president who is a divider instead of a uniter.”
“I actually fear for the safety of my family in an environment where groups are targeted just based on their race or religion with violence,” Paglino remarked. “It’s absolutely horrible, and certainly the president is irresponsible for promoting that.”
The third question was about education.
Question: Numerous articles have been written about online learning that is leaving students behind and negatively impacting the economy when a parent has to stay home to switch to the role of an educator. What concrete solution can you offer that supports both the students and the parents in this situation. What can the federal government do to turn this around?
The fourth question was for Paglino about Coronavirus.
Question: With COVID-19 cases back on the rise in Connecticut, what mandatory government actions would you, as a medical researcher, support — and not support — to check the spread?
For the fifth question, which was sent in by a News 8 viewer, the candidates talked about Medicare.
Question: Medicare supplemental insurance for people under 65 is getting more expensive every year, if elected what will you do to allow better access to health insurance for this population?
The sixth question was aimed at DeLauro.
Question: Congresswoman DeLauro, your Republican opponent accused you of abandoning your Wooster Square roots by supporting the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue. Was she right that you “flip-flopped” on your opposition a year earlier to the removal and “capitulated to ultra-liberal D.C. puppeteers”?
“I’m proud that the Board of Aldermen in New Haven said the second Monday in October is National Italian American Day,” DeLauro said. “I’m part of a committee now…to look for a replacement statue that depicts the Italian-American immigrant experience, which like other immigrant experiences, was hurtful and difficult for people.”
“I would ask my Republican opponent to not impune my sense of my Italian-American heritage. You have no idea, nor are you competent to discuss my roots, my community and feelings with regard to that community.”
The seventh question was about voting during the pandemic.
Question: Do you believe that Americans can safely vote by absentee ballots?
“I believe Americans can safely vote by absentee ballot because there’s no evidence that they can’t…It’s a way of keeping us safe,” Paglino said. “Again, we’re facing an extremely serious pandemic right now, and if we can do something smart, like reduce the number of people in a polling place to save lives, then we should do it.”
“I also think that we should be using some common sense,” Streicker said. “So, for instance, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be bringing some of the polling to the curb and so allow people to drive up, show whatever IDs they need to show and be handed their ballots so they can do it safely and securely in their own vehicles.”
“We have an administration today that is doing everything that it can to scare people, to thwart that sacred right to vote,” DeLauro stated. “To make them afraid, to tell them that he is going to put National Guard or armed guard personnel at voting booths, and it’s only to scare them away. We need to create the environment where people feel safe in going to vote. An absentee ballot is a safe way to vote, and there is no real fraud that has been uncovered in [absentee] voting.”
For the eighth question, a News 8 viewer asked about party ideologies.
Question: Tell me two areas or topics where you disagree with your party?
Question nine was focused on drug abuse.
Question: I would like to know what will Rosa, Margaret and Justin do at the federal level to aid the local communities in their efforts to alleviate the stigma that follows drug abuse, specifically opioid abuse.
Missed the debate? You can watch the full video below:
Below is a brief summary of each candidate.
Rosa DeLauro, 77, has represented the state’s Third Congressional District since Jan. 3, 1991.
The Democrat serves as the Co-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and is the Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, where she oversees the United State’s investments in education, health and employment.
During her time, she has fought for families and better pay — among other things. She believes the nation needs to strengthen the economy and create good middle class jobs. She supports tax cuts for working and middle class families and fought to expand the Child Tax Credit to provide relief to millions of families.
If re-elected, she will serve her sixteenth term.
Real estate developer Margaret Streicker
Margaret Streicker is a real estate developer in Milford. The 45-year-old single mother of four is focused on safety. She believes the nation needs to help senior citizens, adding that they should never have to worry about losing Social Security or Medicare. Streicker also endorses lowering the state’s sales and income taxes.
She recently made headlines for taking a jab at DeLauro in a political ad, saying that she is “tired of politicians lining their pockets.”
If elected, she would be the seventh richest member of Congress, the Middletown Press reports.
Justin Paglino, MD, Ph.D. is running for the Congressional seat as a member of the Green Party.
He earned a medical degree from Brown University and a doctorate in virology from Yale University, where he worked as an associate research scientist in virology. In 2018, he left to become a full-time musician, music teacher and political activist.
As a doctor, the 47-year-old father of two believes strongly in affordable health care. He feels everyone should have Medicare and that all health care costs are covered, meaning no premiums, no co-pays and no deductibles.
He also favors clean energy, a fair economy and foreign policy that promotes world peace.
Paglino believes in ranked-choice voting, a system in which voters select a first, second and third choice, which would be used if no one gains a majority on the first ballot.