Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Key Issues During GNH Vote 2018 Forum

GNH Vote 2018 and community leaders host Gubernatorial Forum focusing on key issues affecting the region.

Gubernatorial candidates Mayor Joe Ganim (L) and Ned Lamont (R) discuss the issues at GNH Vote 2018 Forum.

A diverse crowd of almost 200 filled the room at Albertus Magnus College's Tagliatela Center for a moderated forum with Connecticut's gubernatorial candidates, hosted by Greater New Haven Vote 2018. Greater New Haven Vote 2018 (GNH Vote 2018) is a nonpartisan collaborative effort through the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and a number of other partners across the region, to engage voters and empower them with information about key local issues. The candidate forum focused on five issues: education, immigration, affordable housing, healthcare and criminal justice, topics developed by community partners in an effort to uplift the issues that matter most to our community. Two gubernatorial candidates of seven overall were in attendance, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and Greenwich businessman, Ned Lamont, both Democrats. All gubernatorial candidates were invited.

On Education

Starting with education, the two candidates agreed that schools across Connecticut need to work harder to attract teachers of color and that all students, regardless of their zip code, deserves a great education.

"One thing I call the biggest civil rights issue of our time is going to be dealing with the lack of equality in public education in Connecticut schools that separates the rich districts from the underfunded districts," Ganim said to the audience. "If we do not understand the importance of providing, what I call a constitutional right, to every child, in every town, regardless your zip code, you are guaranteed the right to access a good public education in Connecticut."

"Right now the state provides aid to a variety of different school districts across the state," Lamont explained. "I think it is very important that we target that aid to those schools that are most in need and to make sure we have equal opportunities for every single one of our kids."

On Immigration

After tackling the topic of education, the candidates were asked about immigration. Both candidates stood strong in regards to protecting immigrant rights and allowing immigrant students access to a higher education and the necessary financial aid. Ganim shared his experience dealing with the effects of the travel ban in Bridgeport, while Lamont applauded New Haven Mayor, Toni Harp's strong stance on the issue and suggested that the state will follow in her footsteps if he is elected as governor.

"She has been a leader on this from the very beginning. She said that New Haven would not be doing ICE's dirty work," Lamont said. "We are not going to let that happen in Connecticut, just like Toni is not letting that happen here in New Haven."

On Affordable Housing

Affordable housing was next up on the agenda. Both candidates offered solutions.

"I will be a champion for our cities, that means a great transportation system with affordable housing all in and around that system," Lamont said. "I want each and every one of your kids to have an opportunity to stay here."

"One of the best ways to do what I want to do for Connecticut is building by looking at the dynamics of our cities not just for job opportunity, but for growth, for affordable housing, for the workforce that will now grow and create a better economy for every city and town and every family in Connecticut. That is the way you break down this wealth gap in Connecticut," Ganim explained.

On Healthcare

Next, the candidates tackled affordable healthcare. Both Ganim and Lamont agreed that the Affordable Care Act needs to be sustained and improved upon.

"It has an impact, it has an impact in our cities and we need to continue to fight in every way that we can," Ganim said.

"[Obama] brought down the uninsured number in this state by half," Lamont said. "It was a dramatic improvement and we are going to expand on that every day."

On Criminal Justice

The forum concluded by discussing the topic of criminal justice, more specifically the incarceration of women of color. However, the candidates focused more on re-entry in their responses, both agreeing that the state needs to do a better job at providing opportunities for those at-risk of incarceration and rehabilitating the formerly incarcerated.

"The concept of mass incarceration starts in many ways with drug charges with young inner-city youth that get locked up and caught up in a system because of a failed society for opportunities for them," Ganim said.

"We have to do a much better job in terms of getting the education skills a running head start, so that when they get out they have a fair shot of going forward," Lamont said.

Both candidates will face-off in the August 14 primary held across the state. The deadline for new voters and for unaffiliated voters to enroll in a party for the primary is August 9 by mail or August 13 in-person. On primary day, polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

To learn more about Greater New Haven Vote 2018, click here.