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Cohen's Road to Candidacy

Upon hearing the name Nitzy Cohen , some Westport residents might think of the Republican candidate for House District 136. Others might think of the businesswoman, mother of three or the color purple. But there's more to Cohen than meets the eye.

Founder and owner of International Basics LLC, an international food export company, Cohen started her first business as a girl in Israel, her home country.

"When I was 12, I started delivering hot rolls to people's houses," Cohen said with a laugh. "I woke up 5 a.m. and delivered these hot rolls. And I was not driving: I walked from house to house. It wasn't easy."

Her interest grew from there. After Cohen came to the United States in the early 1980s, she earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Louisville and later a master's in development policy and public administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Cohen credits her early business interests to her father, who owned a business. Although she said she grew up in a family that cared about politics, her interests didn't take off until she had children.

"As I became a mother, I saw things with a more critical eye and questioned things," Cohen said. "As we live our lives, we see many things that are not right. But are so busy with our own lives, we don't have time take on the bigger picture. But once I saw how you can enhance other people's lives by getting involved, I liked that. There's something euphoric about making someone's life better just by seeing the big picture and tackling it."

That's why Cohen ran in 2008. And though she didn't win then, she's confident she will now.

"I intend to be very vocal: Doing things business as usual is not good for any of us," Cohen said. "Even people that don't vote for me, I will do right by them."

An environmental debate between Cohen and Democratic opponent Jonathan Steinberg will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Earthplace , 10 Woodside Lane.

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