OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH) – The Connecticut Emergency Management Association (CEMA) held an event for first responders to meet the candidates for the 2022 gubernatorial race at Saybrook Point on Tuesday.

Democratic Governor Ned Lamont is seeking reelection and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski are going head to head this election season.

Dozens of the event’s attendees had the opportunity to meet Bob Stefanowski and Gov. Ned Lamont. Attendees of the event were employees of the state’s emergency management services, police, fire and public health departments.

“Your presence here provides representation to over 30,000 individual public safety professionals in our state,” Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera, who also serves as President of CEMA, told the group.

The two gubernatorial candidates addressed the first responders and praised them for their service during the pandemic.

Those cupboards were bare,” said Gov. Lamont about the PPE supplies in Washington D.C. at the beginning of the pandemic. “So we worked hard. We ended up getting hundreds of millions of masks and related gear.

The gubernatorial candidate addressed concerns of the protection of first responders during the pandemic.

“I don’t think we did a good enough job protecting our first responders during COVID. I think we could have done better,” said Stefanowski.”

Members had the ear of the candidates for a half-hour each.

The State Firefighters Association wanted to know why the capital improvement plan for regional fire schools has been stalled when it says $31 million was approved through bonding and needs the governor’s signature to move forward.

“When that started it was supposed to be a five-year plan. We’re into twenty years now,” said John Carew, Past President of the State Firefighters Association.

Green party candidate Michelle Bicking was also expected to appear at the meet and greet but she was unable to attend.