WILTON, Conn. – Congressional candidates Jim Himes and Dan Debicella went after each other’s records on campaign contributions, jobs and transportation in a debate held Sunday in Wilton.
Democratic incumbent Himes is facing Republican challenger Debicella for the Fourth District’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. They met in a debate at Wilton High School hosted by chapters of the League of Women Voters from Wilton, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Stamford, Westport and Weston.
On the issue of campaign contributions, Himes said he has co-sponsored two constitutional amendments that would place rules on campaign contributions from corporations. Debicella said Himes has taken money from political action committees and let corporate donors influence legislation. Himes said that Debicella has also taken money from political action committees, and that Debicella did not offer any plans to reduce corporate influence. Debicella said he would also support the constitution amendments, and that if he were an incumbent he would not take money from PACs.
A question about equal pay for women launched a long back-and-forth on topics ranging from minimum wage, the economy, the candidates’ voting records and their own work in personal finance.
Himes said he voted in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which deals with the statute of limitations on discriminatory wage decisions. He also said he was in favor of raising the national minimum wage.
Debicella said the way to help women earn more was through job creation, and outlined plans to lower rates for small businesses and give businesses tax incentives to provide on-the-job training for employees.
When asked about plans to improve the housing market, the conversation quickly turned into one on transportation. Himes said that transportation is the biggest issue facing Fairfield County, and that the government needs to invest in transportation infrastructure. He said that not only would it improve transportation, but also create jobs for people working on the projects. He pointed to recent projects such as the Walk Bridge in Norwalk, which recently received $161 million in federal money to get replaced.
Debicella said that the solution was not to keep throwing money at the problem, but to come up with new strategies to improve transportation through smart investing. He said that recent increases in spending on transportation have not created jobs, and have not improved commutes for Fairfield County residents.
Himes said that Debicella’s campaign promises and his actions while serving as a state senator were inconsistent.
“You know what I stand for, you can look at my votes,” Himes said. “With Dan, you’ve got to ask yourself, what Dan am I going to get?”
Debicella said Himes has been ineffective in solving the region’s problems.
“He may have gone down with good intentions, but he’s part of the problem now,” Debicella said. “If we keep electing the same people over and over, we’re going to get the same results.”
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