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 State Rep. Brenda Kupchick, the Republican candidate running for her second term serving Fairfield's 132nd District.
Kupchick is a lifelong resident of Fairfield. She is a graduate of Fairfield Public Schools and attended Fairfield University and Norwalk Community College. Kupchick and her husband, Peter, have owned and operated the successful Fairfield-based heating and cooling company -- Peter Kupchick Heating & Cooling, Inc. -- for 20 years.
Prior to her first term serving as State Representative, Kupchick was a member of Fairfield's Representative Town Meeting from 1999 - 2003 and then was elected to the Board of Education from 2003 - 2009, as well as the Parks and Recreation Commission from 2004 - 2009. She has worked for former Congressman Chris Shays as a constituent service representative and started the advocacy group "One Voice," which worked to have the public's voice heard in decisions made by town bodies.
Kupchick is running against Democratic challenger Sue Brand, who currently serves on the Board of Education. Brand's responses will be published Thursday.
1. Why are you running for office?
I see it as a call to service. After working on the RTM and Board of Education to have the public’s voice included in the town’s decisions, I started to pay attention to Connecticut’s General Assembly. We have a severely unbalanced legislature. People are frustrated with the direction our state has gone, they don't like arrogance or concentrated power in one person or one party. People intuitively like balance.
The imbalance in the legislature doesn’t represent the majority of the residents who are independent and just want to make a decent living and retire in a state that is affordable.
2. What skills do you have that can help you represent your district in Hartford?
I get the point, identify the problem, discuss the solutions with all stakeholders, and make a plan for change. I’ve been advocating for issues that are important to people for many years at the local level: listening, learning and then making changes that help. My husband and I grew up and raised our son in Fairfield. We built a small heating & cooling business from nothing and grew it over the last 20 years into a respected service company.
Though small businesses are the engine of our state economy, there are very few small business owners serving in our state legislature, and I believe our voice is important in the process. I have a track record of bipartisanship, straight talk and giving a voice to people who feel their government doesn’t listen.
While working for Congressman Chris Shays I helped people from Fairfield and the 4th congressional district cut through red tape. When you spend years fighting bureaucracy, you learn to identify what’s wrong and are able to find solutions with legislative action. It may sound like a clique but being able to make a difference in peoples lives is a very gratifying experience.
3. What are the three biggest issues affecting your district? How would you address them?
Fairfielders want to decrease spending, fight high taxes, improve our schools, improve our mass transit system and increase job growth so people who want a job can get one. My constituents want a more honest and transparent government. During my first term, I’ve advocated for and offered proposals to get our state back on track and reduce out of control spending, including straightening out the state’s unemployment compensation fund, hiring more investigators to reduce social services fraud. I also established Business Advisory Council made up of a cross section of 25 small business owners to identify unfair policies and propose helpful legislative changes. 8-30g is an affordable housing statue that was created in the 1980’s that had good intentions, but has allowed developers get around Fairfield’s local zoning laws and hasn’t provided any real increase in affordable housing in Connecticut.
4. What is something Connecticut has done well in the past two years? What is something the state could have done better?
When legislators work together and listen to their constituents, everyone benefits. In 2011 the CT Legislature passed a bipartisan jobs bill that included legislation to empower small business growth.
Expanding “Live here, Work here” legislation that allows college graduates to put a portion of their taxes in an account toward a down payment on their first home.
I worked with both parties and supported and passed stronger anti-bullying legislation for our students and strengthened Domestic Violence laws to protect victims and stronger anti-bullying legislation for our students and stronger penalties for those convicted of repeated animal abuse.
Gov. Malloy’s original “education reform” proposal placed all the blame for the achievement gap on teachers. I felt it required a more balanced approach. Many parts of the Education Reform law are being piloted in priority districts and will need additional review in the 2013 session. I’m hoping to continue serving on the Education Committee so I can utilize the information I’ve received from teachers and parents over the last year and work on the changes that need to be made.
What the legislature doesn’t do well is budget. The last two years presented a unique opportunity for the Governor and legislature to restructure the way our state government works. There were many proposals to do just that, but the Governor and majority didn’t have the courage to vote for proposals after the financial melt down that would’ve helped us improve the state massive debt and bring down the 9 percent unemployment rate.
Connecticut also needs to plan better for investment in our mass transit system. The Metro-North Rail Line is among the busiest in the nation, and modernizing it is essential to the long-term health of Connecticut’s economy. The Governor raided the Transportation accounts to fill the gap in his budget. I introduced a bill to require transit and bus fare increases be used only for mass transit improvements. I plan to continue to fight to get this legislation passed.
5. If elected (or re-elected), what would your primary focus be coming into the next term?
I’m hoping I will be able to continue working on the issues Fairfield cares about. I was appointed to the Shoreline Legislators Task Force that is working on shoreline preservation and innovative coastal management techniques. Senator McKinney and I are working to have DEEP implement a pilot program to decrease beach erosion on Fairfield Beach. I’m also working with constituents on suicide prevention, a justice center for victims of domestic violence, food labeling for GMO’s, services for autistic children and adults, continue working on education reform, animal welfare, requiring money from train and bus fare hikes only be used for mass transit improvements and honest budgeting for our state.
I’ve worked very hard to be accessible to my constituents through town hall and legislator on your corner meetings, though newsletters and email and telephone communication and volunteering in the community. It’s a tremendous honor to represent the people of Fairfield and Southport and hope I’ve earned their trust for a second term.