NORWALK, Conn. – State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137) and his Republican opponent, Ellen Wink, met in a League of Women Voters debate.
Wink confronted Perone on his attendance record and condemned unfunded mandates. Perone spoke of his focus on transportation and the challenges ahead given the pandemic. The Norwalk harbor was another topic.
Wink has released two letters asking, “Where is Chris Perone?” She has charged that he has missed key votes and Committee meetings.
Perone said that his leadership role in transportation means that he’s on eight committees.
Wink replied, “I’ve shown up every day for work as a mother, as an employer. You can be on all the committees you want and have all the titles you want. But skin in a game if you don’t show up?”
“I get that,” Perone said. “Obviously, in a concise period of time, three- or four-month sessions …conflicts arise. And at the end of the day, it’s really about what we’re putting on the table moving through in order to move our state forward.”
Asked about COVID-19, Perone said Connecticut needs to reopen carefully, not put people in harm’s way. Wink suggested that decisions need to be made locally. Perone replied that “districts are allowed to establish their own rules on how they open.”
Moderator Jean Rabinow asked about the recent Save the Sound report card giving Norwalk’s inner harbor an “F.”
Between the runnoff and from the river and from storm drains, “our water is more contaminated than it needs to be,” Perone said. The delegation is “implored and obligated” to push back on the causes.
He said, “I saw that report, and I was, frankly, horrified by it. And I think that we actually need to address that and make sure that our waters are as clean as possible. You know, oyster fishing is Norwalk’s history. So I think we need to be mindful of business aspects of it as well as the environmental aspects.”
Wink said she’s a motor boater and a sail boater, and loves the sound.
“You go up and down the sound, and you’re seeing old factories, old piers, you just only imagine when seeping back into our waterways, between what is currently seeping into our waterways,” Wink said. “And historically, I don’t know how much we can change … the waterways in Connecticut have always been dumped in. And, you know, all the factories and we’ve relied on water, and we’ve done it to ourselves, how can we get out of it? Again, it’s gonna take a team to really make our waterways, you know, good.”
In closing statements, Perone said, “It’s been the honor of my life to serve as your state representative. And we have a lot of work to do going forward to rebuild our economy and get our state moving again. And eight years ago, 10 years ago, I worked on jumpstarting our economy after the Great Recession… basically I coauthored legislation that would create R&D tax credits, angel investor tax credits, as well as creating green jobs and training in renewables…. I think that we need to really focus on rebooting all of this thinking, getting together with leaders in academia, tax policy, in the business community, and work together to see you know, what ideas are going to bubble to the surface, and move those forward, make those a priority.”
Wink said, “I’m stepping up to represent all of Norwalk, Republicans, independents and Democrats in looking out for our public safety, our public health and our public education system… I believe the current legislators in the state of Connecticut are looking to overstep their jurisdiction to regulate more and underfund imposed mandates. It’s time to clean out deadwood on many levels. We need to stop spending more, mandating more and making promises that we can’t afford.”