By: Joseph Oliveri

Credit: Peggy Stewart

Democratic gubernatorial Candidate Ned Lamont visited Western Connecticut University on Thursday, September 24th to address questions from students and faculty concerning his platform.

The forum was held on WCSU’s Westside Campus. Lamont, a former cable magnate and 2006 Senate Candidate faces the Republican candidate, former GE and UBS executive Bob Stefanowski and Independent Oz Griebel in the race. This will decide who will succeed incumbent Dannel P. Molloy, a governor Lamont did not hesitate to criticize as negligent.

“Our governor’s been a little absent,” Lamont said. The comment comes ahead of three gubernatorial debates where Stefanowski doubled-down on his most recurrent indictment of Lamont, decrying him as a Molloy clone whose economic plan will worsen the state’s economic woes.

“We have failed to invest in education, we have failed to invest in transportation,” Lamont said.

Lamont, whose plan to address the Connecticut’s fiscal crisis includes abolishing property and business entity taxes as well as using toll revenue to alleviate the deficit, encouraged the audience that Connecticut taxpayers could trust his administration.

“Our last budget was a disaster,” Lamont said. In a nod to both the state senate, and to  Oz Griebel’s choice to combine Democratic and Republican approaches into one policy package, he added, “They [taxpayers in Connecticut] just don’t think Connecticut has a clue how to spend their money,” and that a bipartisan approach was “The exact wrong thing to do.”

Lamont also took the time to rebuke Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. “That place is a disaster,” he said. “You go in a Democrat and leave a Republican,” he joked.

Several student questions had to do with mental health and women’s reproductive rights. When a student asked how he would approach treating Planned Parenthood if elected, Lamont assured that he would do what he could to protect it from the Trump administration.

He promised to protect mental health institutions, saying, “They’re the first ones cut,” Lamont also said, “I support paid maternity leave.”

Connecticut labor unions are a vocal portion of Lamont’s constituency. Citing a disagreement with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Janus V. AFSCME, Lamont said, “Collective bargaining means you have a seat at the table.”

“Half the folks working in Danbury are single parents,” Lamont said. “I would slowly raise the minimum wage to $15.”

Credit: Peggy Stewart

Social Sciences professor Dr. Howell Williams, coordinator for the event, said, “I was surprised by the quality of questions. I think that’s it  clear from what happened today that the students have a very clear grasp not only of the specific issues that affect them but also what affects our community.”