Share this candidate profile:

Kara Rochelle

Running for State Representative

6 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating


Age: 39

Marital Status: Single

Current Residence: Ansonia

Current Job: Legislator

Previous Job: Administrator for a Nonprofit

Previous Job:

Education: Fordham University, Class of 2005

What can be done to prevent excessive consolidation of the healthcare industry and the loss of services – or, in some cases, the loss of small hospitals themselves – in the state's rural areas?
The state must scrutinize these consolidations further and reject them when they will result in negative health outcomes for regions of the state. The wellbeing of our residents must come first, and the state should consider financial incentives, disincentives, and further regulation to ensure that access to healthcare does not suffer.
Do you think the state's two major electric utilities (Eversource and United Illuminating) are sufficiently regulated? If not, what measures would you take to ensure that consumers are protected to the greatest extent possible against prolonged loss of services and unfair rate increases?
More regulation is needed. While the Taking Back Our Grid Act was a good step, we must work at every turn to put people before profits. I believe we need stricter benchmarks on having utilities companies harden the grid--by putting power lines underground, for example--and that these investments must be paid for by the utility to provide proper performance, without passing the cost on to customers. Further, rate increases should be considered only when performance standards are met and clear and compelling evidence is shown that the rate increase is warranted based on hard numbers. I would prefer that utilities companies have to submit a plan for how they will deliver rate decreases. This should be the goal.
What is your position on whether Connecticut should open its election primaries to unaffiliated voters?
I support open primaries.
What action(s) will you take to reduce out-of-pocket drug costs and reduce the impact of the cost of prescription drugs on taxpayers and insurance premiums?
I support importing safe prescription drugs from Canada, benchmarking tools, and opening the public option to nonprofits and small businesses to help lower their healthcare costs.
In these inflationary times, what will you do to help ensure that Connecticut’s middle-income retirees on fixed incomes are able to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets?
I voted to eliminate taxes on retirement income (social security, pensions, and annuities) for the majority of retires, and also voted to phase out taxes on 401k retirement income as well, by the same income thresholds. I would like to expand the income thresholds to include more seniors, and would also like to examine what other retirement income we can remove taxes from. Additionally, I supported an increase in the property tax credit for seniors and would like to expand that program as well. Further, I would like to lower the cap on car taxes to benefit more middle income communities.
How do you plan to address the growing long-term care workforce crisis in the state?
We recently stood up the CareerConnect program, with one of its free workforce training tracts being for jobs in healthcare. While we need to create more free and affordable training programs to bolster the workforce, we also need to look at bolstering pay rates, benefits, and working conditions to make these jobs more viable for adults to enter into. I think it's also worth examining creating a scholarship program and/or additional tax breaks for those who work in this industry.
Gas prices are higher than ever, which is difficult for older adults on fixed incomes. Yet, alternatives to cars in Connecticut are limited. What will you do to help older adults access other forms of transportation?
I fought for and delivered on increased train service on the Waterbury Rail Line, which started on July 10th, 2022 after years of advocacy. This is one step to increasing public transit in the region. I also supported legislation to not only eliminate the gas tax but to provide free bus service for the public until December. This includes free ride service through Valley Transit, which services our region. I support extending this free ride service beyond December, and examining if we can extend it permanently, or extend free rides permanently for seniors. During Covid, I also coordinated with LYFT and a local nonprofit, Team Inc., to secure free ride codes from LYFT that Team could provide to seniors and other economically distressed residents to help them get to and from appointments, work, and other needed errands.
What are the two most urgent problems facing Connecticut within the context of climate change and the environment, and what will you propose to solve them?
Air quality can have a serious health impact on residents, as we see in my district. It is a deeply pressing issue that we prioritize the health of residents by deploying clean technology in these districts where residents suffer with the worst air quality--which affects asthma rates, amongst other health metrics. Increasing public transit, electric buses, and environmental cleanup dollars to this communities is key. We must also move to clean, affordable energy as soon as possible. This is both an environmental imperative and one that is urgently pressing for the financial wellbeing of residents. Expansion of solar technology, and solar energy storage technology, would be helpful to residents to drive down costs and transition to cleaner, more sustainable technology that is more reliable to provide energy to homes should the grid go down. These more self-sufficient energy technologies also will help residents to withstand the increased veracity of storms due to climate change.
How can Connecticut's education systems create better outcomes for students in low-income communities?
First and foremost, we must fully fund the Education Cost Share for underfunded schools immediately. This is overdue and critically important. There must also be more investment in after school enrichment programs, summer enrichment programs, and expansion of early childhood education programs. Data shows that educational outcomes improve the earlier a child is enrolled in an early education program. I also believe we need an overhaul of the special education funding system to better serve students and low-income communities. Beyond the classroom, we also need to install more job training and higher education opportunities for adults in these communities as well.
Pedestrian deaths spiked a few years ago and remain high, and it's fairly clear that driver behavior, such as distracted driving, is only getting worse despite significant efforts by law enforcement to stop it. How can Connecticut's streets be made safe for pedestrians and bicyclists?
I believe we need to create more bike lanes, more lights and signaling around cross walks, and harsher penalties for distracted driving, particularly cell phone use while driving, which is far too often the cause of fatal accidents.
How should the state and its school districts deal with COVID-19 going forward?
I think the current system is working well now. Remote learning simply does not deliver the same quality of education, there was tremendous learning loss and social-emotional challenges for the students. Further, asking teachers to both teach in the classroom and remotely was an impossible task which we have now banned. Students are safely back in school now and it is my hope that Covid-19 can be managed without changing the current path we are on.
What should be done on the state level to further address Connecticut's lack of affordable housing? Do you support, for example, mandating or incentivizing towns and cities to alter their zoning codes to be friendlier to affordable housing?
Connecticut has the lowest vacancy rate in the nation for rentals. It is obvious that we need more housing, and more affordable housing in the state--the numbers prove that. Data also shows that some towns are meeting the moment while others have failed to act despite requirements to do so. In light of the seeming resistance by some towns to address their obligation to provide housing options for all variety of incomes, I do think that more incentives are necessary, as well as disincentives for failure to act. Working class residents should have the opportunity to find reasonably priced housing in every city and town in this state. There simply isn't enough housing currently, and every city and town must do its part to remedy this issue.