GOP 14th district candidate does solo debate

State Senate candidate Patricia Libero discussed her experience in education and her take on some of the state’s problems during a one-woman debate sponsored by the Plymouth Men’s Club earlier this week.

Libero, a Republican, is running against incumbent Democrat Gayle Slossberg, who was not able to attend the debate.

Alone at the podium, Libero talked about her experience as a special education teacher and then as an administrator with the West Haven school system.

“When you are a special education teacher and you are a principal you approach things in the same way because it's all problem solving,” Libero said, explaining that if a child cannot read, the teacher tries one strategy and then another until one works.

That’s the kind of mindset she said she would bring to Hartford, along with experience working in an environment where people talk to each other and work together to get things done.

Libero grew up in West Haven, and she said her father, a tool and die maker, would be “turning over in his grave” at what the state is doing to businesses.

“We’re taxing them, taxing them and taxing them,” she said, adding that taxes are sending businesses elsewhere, and leaving residents with the tax burden.

"People in West Haven got their tax bill today,” Libero said. “People in West Haven are not happy. Our mill rate when up five.”

Libero said the state needs to bring more business and industry to Connecticut to create tax relief.

She also talked about the state’s education cost sharing grant, saying it's a complex formula that should be looked at and possibly made more equitable.

Responding to a question about affordable housing, Libero said there is a loophole in the affordable housing legislation that needs to be closed.

“When you put 8-30g affordable housing in an area where it truly doesn't belong it brings down the prices and the quality of everyone else’s homes, and that's not fair to the people who invested in those homes,” Libero said.

The state needs to be more business friendly to keep old and young people living in the state, she said, pointing out that businesses will provide jobs for young people and help keep taxes lower for older citizens

“If we lose all our retirees and we lose our young people we are going to turn into a ghost state, so we need to do something about both of those ends,” Libero said. She suggested state leaders talk to students in college to see what types of careers they are pursuing and try to attract the companies that offer those jobs.

“Why can't we get Indeed to come here?” she asked. “Google’s in New York City. Maybe Google would like to have a little subsidiary here in Connecticut. We’re close.”

Commenting on the mileage tax, Libero said she’s a car buff, and she sees the mileage tax as a punishment for buying a fuel efficient car. “It’s foolish, and I would vote against it with heart and soul,” she said.

Asked about how she would control the state budget, Libero talked about duplication of services and said there needs to be restructuring. The state “is not healthy now,” she said, adding that getting a handle on expenditures will require some hard decisions.

She talked about saving money by outsourcing some services: The West Haven schools outsourced the lunch program, and while the change met with resistance, the program is now running in the black and lunches have improved.

"You can outsource things and have it work,” she said.

Libero said she’s tired of hearing friends say they are moving out of Connecticut, and tired of the state being ranked low on surveys.

“We need to vote people in who are going to work to make Connecticut great again,” she said.

Between a dozen and 30 people were at the debate at various times. It was held Tuesday at the First Church of Christ in downtown Milford.

The Plymouth Men’s Club initially announced that Slossberg was not going to be at the debate, and then at the last minute said Slossberg would be there.

But Slossberg said the next day that the men’s club was mistaken: When contacted initially she told them she would be out of town on Tuesday. She said she did not talk to them after that, and never said her plans had changed and that she would be able to attend.