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Westport State Senate Candidates Talk Deer, Debt

WESTPORT, Conn. – Deer control and the state’s mounting debt were among the issues that Westport’s state Senate candidates discussed Monday night during a League of Woman Voters debate at Town Hall.

The debate was between Republican state Sen. Toni Boucher, who represents Westport and six other towns in the 26th District, and her Democratic challenger Carolanne Curry, a Westport resident. Republican state Sen. John McKinney from the 28th District, which covers Fairfield and part of Westport, also participated. He is running unopposed.

As Connecticut has the highest debt per capita, the candidates were asked what they would do, if elected, to help stop the state from going further in debt. Boucher said she would push to have state employee contracts renegotiated.

“We have to change the structure of the benefit packages and long-term pension plans the state gives its employees,” said Boucher, a Wilton resident. “We need a wage freeze, a hiring freeze but most importantly, to change some of the parameters people use to retire.”

Boucher, who is running for her third term, also said it was imperative the state stop borrowing so much money.

Curry, on the other hand, said she would advocate a cap on property taxes.

“Property tax is probably one of most regressive and negative taxes we’re experiencing in this state,” she said. “If we have a cap on property tax, our real estate could remain competitive with New York state, which has just introduced a cap on property tax.”

On the issue of deer control, the candidates were asked how they would alleviate the problems residents face because of excessive deer populations.

Curry said she believes the issue should be addressed by both the state and towns. The problem of a burgeoning deer population, she said, has to do with development. As such, she said she believes there should be steps in place to make sure towns don’t become overdeveloped.

Boucher, who said the issue of deer control is among the most controversial in the legislature, said she is in favor of a variety of solutions, including public education. She cited a Department of Energy and Environmental Protection program that offers tips on how to avoid Lyme disease and more.

The debate will be rebroadcast on Cablevision Channel 79 from Oct. 26 through Oct. 28. It will also be streamed on the town’s website until Election Day.

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