State Representative District 65

Michelle Cook

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Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

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Current Residence: Torrington

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Christopher Beyus

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Party: Republican

CEP Status: participating

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Current Residence: Torrington

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Don Alexander

1 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Green Party

CEP Status: nonparticipating

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Age: 67

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Torrington

Current Job: Retired

Previous Job: QA Engineer

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Education: 2 yrs. college

Connecticut’s revenues will sharply decline as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and, unlike Congress, Connecticut has a balanced budget requirement. What changes would you make to balance the budget? (If you want cuts, be specific what will be cut. If you want to raise taxes, be specific about which taxes.)
1) I would raise the marginal income tax from 6 1/2% to 8 1/2% on single persons making over $250,000/yr and couples making over $500,000/yr. This will raise over $350M for the state. 2) I would propose raising the minimum wage to $15/hr IMMEDIATELY. This will introduce a new set of taxpayers into the Ct. workforce and raise between $75 and $100M in taxes for the state. 3) Legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. The taxes and licensing revenue will raise approximately $125M for the state coffers.
What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
1) Pass a single-payer healthcare plan to help ensure the health of the people of Ct. This will ensure that people that have avoided getting medical care due to lack of insurance can get that care, possibly uncovering more cases of the virus. The infected can then get quarantined, thus slowing the spread of the virus. An additional benefit for businesses will be that they will not have to carry health insurance for their employees, allowing them to use the saved capital to hire more personnel or to help them survive the pandemic.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
1) Re-apportion funding to police departments, along with re-tasking the departments: Also known as de-funding, this action will reapportion some funding from police departments to human services, housing, education, mental health initiatives and other areas while removing funds for militarization of departments among other things. Better housing, education and assistance in other vital areas will reduce crime in black communities and lead to greater opportunity for residents in these communities, resulting in fewer confrontations with police and reducing the need for police in these areas. The police can then become involved in community policing efforts, such as walking beats, getting to know the people in the community, etc., thus reducing the strain and stress of entering into unfamiliar areas that tend to lead to the unnecessary responses that we have seen too many times in the last 50+ years. Additionally, professionals specializing in the areas benefitted by the reapportioning of the funding will be able to take the place of the police in many areas that the police are not trained to handle. This being said, many of the black men and women that are killed by police have committed no crime at all or at most something very minor, but they are still killed for “being black.” 2) Better educate police: In the state of Connecticut, the minimum requirements to join the police are to possess a high school diploma or GED and to be 20 years old. Once accepted, the applicant attends a 22 week police academy, so a person can conceivably become a police officer at the age of 20. This is unacceptable, as most 20 year olds are not mature enough to handle high-pressure situations and they don’t have enough life experience to allow hiring authorities to have enough background data to make good hiring decisions. One of my first acts as a State Representative would be a proposal to change the minimum requirements to join the police to having a 4 year college degree or equivalent military service and to be at least 22 years old. The extra 2 years will give more data to review on the background check. If the background check uncovers any race or gender/sexuality issues or shows a history of bullying, the candidate will immediately be disqualified. If the candidate is accepted, he/she would then attend an 18-24 month police academy that would have comprehensive race and gender relations classes and training. If she/he fails any portion of the above, the candidate would also be disqualified. If the recruit passes the academy, he/she can then become an officer at the age of 23-24. Hopefully, the extra 2 years of schooling/ maturing will eliminate any racist attitudes that the recruit may have had earlier in life. 3) Holding police departments and officers accountable for complaints against them: Derek Chauvin, the officer that killed George Floyd, had 18 complaint in 19 years, but was only disciplined twice. This is unacceptable. My plan would call for any officer with 2 race/gender-related or excessive force complaints against him/her to be disciplined with an unpaid suspension, the length to be determined by the civilian review board with no appeal allowed. A 3rd complaint for similar reasons will result in termination with possible charges being brought against the officer. If a department interferes with, hinders or obstructs any investigation, those officers involved will also face disciplinary action up to and including termination and possible prosecution if warranted. 4) Create a civilian review board with authority: My plan would create an ELECTED civilian review board with 2-4 persons from each county in Connecticut (16-32 persons total). The board members will not be paid and their term will be for 2 years. They will not be able to run for consecutive terms. The board will review all complaints against the police and if they determine that the complaints are serious enough, they will forward them to the State’s attorney’s office to determine if any action should be taken. If the state determines that no action will be taken, it MUST give a written and verbal explanation to the public as to why no action will be taken. If the explanation is insufficient to both the public and the review board, the review board can recommend a statewide no-confidence vote to remove the State’s attorney from office to be replaced by a new SA. The process would begin again at the point of review by the SA. We should be able to expect nothing less than professionalism from those who serve the public and those in other professions, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, etc. have an extensive amount of schooling and training before they can practice their professions. Should we expect any less from our men and women in blue?
With so much uncertainty ahead about COVID-19, how would you ensure that the people's business – both at the legislature and in all of our elections – will be conducted effectively, and with full participation, in the safest possible manner for the foreseeable future?
With higher education facing major changes because of the pandemic, what steps will you take to make sure that Connecticut’s residents have access to college and/or other job training that won’t leave them tens of thousands of dollars in debt?
I will propose legislation to give students a tuition-free 4 year college education. Businesses in Ct. are having a hard time hiring Ct. residents trained in technical and other fields, causing them to search outside of the state to fill high paying jobs. These job searches are expensive, increasing the financial burden on businesses. If we offer the tuition-free education at state schools, we can have the students sign an agreement to work in the state for a certain amount of time or they would have to pay for the education. After working the contracted time they would be free to move out of the state to work. This would give businesses the opportunity to do whatever they need to to retain the employees.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
As mentioned before, I would propose legislation to implement a single-payer healthcare plan in the state. This will ensure that black and other at-risk minorities have equal access to good healthcare.
What should Connecticut do to re-tool our public health for COVID-19 and the possibility of future pandemics, while also addressing other chronic illnesses that put people at risk every day?
As stated before, introduce a single-payer healthcare plan in Ct.
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
Single-payer healthcare will lower costs and improve quality and access to all but the richest people in Ct.