Lake Forest Association held a forum to introduce candidates that will be on the ballot in the Feb. 22 special election for the 136th District seat. They were Bob Keeley, Verna Kearney, Tom Lombard, Carlos Silva, the Rev. Charles Stallworth and Mark Trajanowski. Close to 100 people met at the community center to ask questions about important is- sues.
The Rev. Stallworth said, “I have been involved in ministry for 30 years. I want to represent the people.” That was a common line, “represent the people.” The meeting was informal. People were able to ask any question.
Verna Kearney recognized three women who have lived in the area for more than 50 years each. Kearney said, “Their dedication has helped to preserve the good atmosphere in the neighborhood.” They were Betsey Meyer, Kathlyn Nolin and Doris Leger. She presented flowers to them. Combined, the women have lived more than 150 years in the area.
Keeley told the audience three reasons that will make him the best candidate: Experience, grant-writing ability and negotiation. He said that he spent 26 years in the Legislature before being defeated last year. “I lived in this neighborhood and I was president
of this organization, to which I brought money when I was a state representative.”
Carlos Silva said, “Look at who is the best for the position.” He added that unity among the Bridgeport legislators must be built. He said that his priority will be to bring money for developments in Bridgeport.
Turning to a discussion of whether the state should lift its ban on Sunday liquor sales, Mark Trojanowski said, “I support the selling of liquor on Sundays.” He said the state must find new sources of revenue to cover the current budget deficit.
But Carlos Silva said he opposes Sunday liquor sales because employees need a day of rest. He added there are better ways to finance the deficit than with additional sales of alcohol. Six days of work is enough, he said.
Verna Kearney answered, “ I believe in the power of the people. I would conduct a referendum to see what the people want.”
A man from the audience complained that taxes are too high and too many city employees live outside the city. “They don’t pay taxes here,” he said.
Verna Kearney, a police officer, said that back in 1993 when she first became a policewoman, it was required to live in the city to be a police officer or firefighter.
The consensus is that for years the city administrations have hired too many employees from other cities, especially in positions that make decisions affecting residents’ lives.
Trajanowski said that problem with Bridgeport is that there are 70 percent residents and 30 percent businesses. With that ratio the tax burden is on residents. The city has to attract more businesses, he said.
“You don’t want to cut more services,” Lombard commented when a woman asked how the state’s nearly $4 billion deficit could be eliminated.
“You have to utilize your resources,” Kearney said. “For example, we have people in jail who can clean the snow and do other jobs like that. Taxpayers are financing the time they are in jail. Let’s put them to work,” she said.
Most of the candidates agreed that the last four administrations have done a poor job with Steel Point. Displacing the residents who lived in that area was a disservice to the taxpayer because all that’s left there is empty space, they said.
Mark Trajanowski said that often an administration receives money for redevelopment projects and doesn’t use it properly.
Lombard warned the audience to oppose to the deal with Trumbull related to the rent of the city’s sewer system.