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Steinberg, Cohen Focus on 'Green'

In a final debate between House District 136 candidates Democrat Jonathan Steinberg and Republican Nitzy Cohen , Steinberg pushed to emphasize their differences by underlining his experience with town government.

"I've been directly involved with initiatives in Westport to protect the environment. I know firsthand what it takes to bring about effective change," Steinberg said in his introduction at Thursday night's environmental debate at Earthplace. "By the end of tonight's debate, it will be eminently clear that I have the background, skills and commitment to take a leadership role in Hartford."

In her opening statement, Cohen took a different approach, drawing on childhood experiences that have helped shape her views on the environment.

"I grew up in a place where water is so scarce. When I was younger, you didn't take a shower every day. And if you saw a leaky faucet as a child, you had to go and alert an adult," said Cohen, who was raised in Israel. "I don't take these things for granted. To me, environmental responsibility is as important as fiscal responsibility."

During the debate, moderated by Earthplace trustee James Meany, the candidates were asked questions on such issues as protecting Long Island Sound, high energy costs, open space and Westport's deer population.

Unlike other questions submitted by the audience that asked the candidates to present their views on a specific environmental topic, the final question asked the candidates to explain what issue, for them, is most urgent.

For Steinberg, it's high energy costs.

"I think that energy is both a problem and an opportunity for the state. We cannot succeed, we cannot grow our economy, we cannot grow jobs unless we address this issue immediately," he said.

Cohen said she thinks transportation problems are a deterrent to economic growth.

"When businesses look to locate or get out of a certain area, many factors go into consider," she said. "One most important is transportation. If we don't address the transportation issues in the state, especially lower Fairfield County, we're not going to get those businesses."

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