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 Sue Brand, the Democratic candidate running for a seat serving the 132nd District.
Brand, who currently serves as a member of the board of Education and is a past chairman, has lived in Fairfield for 20 years. She holds a bachelor's degree in nursing from Quinnipiac University and worked as a cardiac intensive care nurse for 10 years.
Brand has served on several boards, committees, and organizations around Fairfield, including the Board of Health, Cooperative Education, Services, and the League of Women Voters. She is also a former Tomlinson Middle School PTA president and earned the Deanna O. Kiernan Award in 2011 for her services as a PTA member.
Brand is running against Republican incumbent Brenda Kupchick, whose Q&A was published on Wednesday.
1. Why are you running for office?
As a member and former Chairman of the Board of Education and as a member of the Board of Health I have seen an increasing impact on Fairfield from decisions made at the state level particularly in the areas of healthcare and education. It became clear to me about a year ago that we needed more effective representation in Hartford that had the relevant experience and leadership qualities necessary to address these challenges and opportunities. I am confident that I can leverage my experience in health care and education at the state level to more effectively advocate for the people of Fairfield's 132nd district.
2. What skills do you have that can help you represent your district in Hartford?
Perhaps at no time in our history have we faced such significant challenges, particularly in educating our students for the jobs of the 21st century and with the rapid changes in healthcare legislation to deal with our aging population and rising health care costs. The 132nd district needs a State Representative that has a deep understanding of health care and education that can be focused on reducing unemployment, leveraging the growth opportunities in healthcare and biosciences and ensuring cost effective implementation of the new affordable healthcare legislation.
My Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, Board of Health experience and 10 years as a cardiac intensive care nurse make me uniquely qualified to address our healthcare challenges and growth opportunities. Future job opportunities will increasingly be based in sciences. Healthcare, education, and government are large service industries. I have experience in all three areas. Providing quality, efficient service is key to improving the cost of living and fostering a favorable business climate. Further, I have been, and will continue to be out in front of issues because it is important to the people that I serve. It is at times necessary to facilitate change.
Fairfield needs now more than ever an independent thinker and leader with experience in healthcare and education to move us forward.
3. What are the three biggest issues affecting your district? How would you address them?
Based on speaking with thousands of Fairfield families in my canvassing since May, the consistent issues are the cost of living in Fairfield including taxes and healthcare costs, the lack of good paying jobs and either concerns around flooding and beach erosion or improving our train service.
To address these issues requires us to expand the commercial tax base by creating jobs in the growing fields of healthcare, biosciences, engineering and technology. This also requires us to improve our transportation infrastructure by getting more rail cars on line. We need to build a tighter linkage between businesses and our colleges and universities to ensure our graduates have the right skills for today’s jobs. We can reduce the cost and increase access to healthcare by expanding the use of nurse practitioners. As a beach area resident I've personally experienced the issues associated with flooded streets and we clearly need to be better prepared for potentially more severe hurricanes.
4. What is something that Connecticut has done well in the past two years? What is something that we could have done better?
I am pleased with the focus on job growth including the Small Business Express program expansion as well as the Biosciences partnership. The results need to show faster improvement but these are the right priorities.
No one is happy with the progress on reducing unemployment and under employment. We need to continue to focus on improving the business environment including lowering taxes. This requires, among many things, delivering state services more cost effectively through an increased use of new technology.
5. If elected or re-elected what would your primary focus be in the next term?
I need to enable our town and our state to more quickly address the significant challenges that many of our citizens face with keeping Fairfield affordable. We need to make faster progress dealing with high unemployment and under employment, rising taxes due to lack of growth in the commercial tax base, rising healthcare costs and uncertain futures for our college graduates. We need to keep Fairfield affordable so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of our town. And we cannot accomplish these goals without improving our business environment.
What's clear is that idle promises to cut taxes, while balancing the budget and maintaining our social safety net are misleading at best. We need new ideas based on deep relevant experience that will not put our citizens further at risk. And we need to be able to trust that our state representative will represent all of our Fairfield residents’ best interests in Hartford. I believe I understand your needs, have the relevant experience and have earned your trust over the past 20 years to best represent Fairfield. I would be honored to receive your vote to continue to serve Fairfield in Hartford.