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House Candidates Hash Out Issues

It was blue versus red Wednesday night at the political event Westport voters have been waiting for: a debate between Democrat Jonathan Steinberg and Republican Nitzy Cohen , the candidates for House District 136.

The debate, organized by the League of Women Voters of Westport , also featured Republican Dee Dee Brandt and incumbent Democrat Kim Fawcett , candidates for House District 133.

With respective opponents seated side-by-side, all four candidates took turns answering questions posed by the audience. Kicking off the debate was a question about jobs.

"While the rest of the country is experiencing the same sort of situation, in Connecticut, we're in a more dire situation: we have huge deficits and no jobs," said Cohen. "We need to have fresh thinking."

Steinberg agreed that the state needs a fresh perspective when it comes to creating jobs. But creating jobs is not the only issue, he said.

"We don't have a good solution to keeping companies here because they want to be here. We have some of the highest energy costs in the country: not only is this an impediment to businesses, it certainly doesn't attract new companies," he said. "The only way to turn this around is to attract new businesses and keep the ones we have."

On a more local level, the candidates were asked how they would relieve gridlock on the highways in Fairfield County.

"I don't think we should do anything that would slow us down, like adding tolls. I do not support tolls," said Brandt. "As far as where we go forward, we have to do it carefully."

Fawcett said one way to lessen highway gridlock is to get more people onto the trains.

"I've been a very outspoken, consistent voice for expanding the train systems," said Fawcett. "We need more parking, more seats on the train, and frequent service."

House District 136 incumbent Democrat Joe Mioli is not seeking re-election.

If you missed the debate, it will be televised on Channel 79 every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and will be available online until Election Day.

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