As Election Day approaches, Fairfield Patch is committed to keeping readers up-to-date with the latest news, announcements, and Letters to the Editor related to the town's candidates for office.
Patch sent five questions to each candidate running to represent Fairfield on a statewide level. The following responses came from Heather Dean, the Democratic candidate running to challenge Republican State Rep. Tony Hwang for the 134th District (which includes Fairfield and Trumbull).
Dean has lived in Fairfield since 1996, according to her campaign website. She holds a bachelor's degree in human development-family relations from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree in in elementary education from Sacred Heart University. Dean and her husband, Jeff Dean, have owned and operated Bright Futures Child Care Learning Center since 2003.
Dean served as a member of the Representative Town Meeting, representing the town's fourth district, from 2003 - 2009 and was re-elected to a two-year term in 2011. She has served on the RTM's Education and Recreation and Public Works and Planning committees and currently serves on the Finance committee. She also worked as campaign manager for Thomas Drew's campaigns for state representative in 2004 and 2006 and as manager of former First Selectman Kenneth Flatto's 2005 campaign.
For more on Dean's background, visit her campaign website: http://www.heatherdean2012.com/.
State Rep. Tony Hwang's responses will run next week.
1. Why are you running for office?
I am running for State Representative because I want to help improve the quality of life for the people in the 134th District and throughout the State.
2. What skills do you have that can help you represent your district in Hartford?
I’ve always been about community service and volunteering. I am now in my fourth term on the RTM and genuinely enjoy helping my constituents and other Fairfielders. I am proud of my ability to work with members from both sides of the aisle. I’ve chaired committees and have striven to be fair and let all voices be heard while also asking the tough questions so my vote is always an informed one.
I don’t shy away from controversy. I got my first taste of controversy when I led a committee to start a wrap-around child care program at Osborn Hill Elementary School in 1997. We faced multiple challenges getting the community to accept that we were no longer a society of stay-at-home moms, but instead a diverse neighborhood of working families that needed safe, affordable, high quality child care for their children. I didn’t personally need the program at the time and could have just walked away from the headache, but I didn’t. Today, I am still proud to be a part of the team that created Kids’ Place, a program that continues to flourish and provide quality before and after school care.
3. What are the three biggest issues affecting your district? How would you address them?
The biggest issues are jobs, taxes and education:
- Jobs: Support initiatives to help small business owners create new jobs and help grow their businesses;
- Taxes: Make responsible cuts to the State budget that will ease the tax burden on families and small businesses;
- Education: Support education reforms, including applying evaluations to administrators as well as teachers, and ensuring that all teacher and administrator evaluations are fair and balanced.
4. What is something Connecticut has done well in the past two years? What is something the state could have done better?
Connecticut did well by putting through a new education bill that will address our failing schools, and while Fairfield’s education program is stellar, we must continue to challenge ourselves each day and care about our neighboring towns’ school system as well. We are either in a race to the top or a race to the bottom. This reform bill, while not perfect, will enable us to prepare students for the 21st century job market.
Connecticut failed in our infrastructure preparation for the back to back storms in the summer-fall of 2011. What’s the point of having jobs if we don’t have a way to get to them, or water or power when we arrive. Those storms caused many small businesses to fail. They simply could not recover and reopen after having to close because of extended power and water outages or no physical access to their business or to their customers. We can do better by our small business owners and make sure we have plans in place for the future.
5. If elected (or re-elected), what would your primary focus be coming into the next term?
This question is very similar to #3. My answer is two-fold: Support initiatives to help small business owners create new jobs and help grow their businesses; make responsible cuts to the State budget that will ease the tax burden on families and small businesses.