The rematch between Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his 2010 Republican rival, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, officially got underway Wednesday evening with the first gubernatorial debate of the election.
The candidates faced off at the Slater Museum Auditorium, located on the grounds of Norwich Free Academy.The hour-long event was hosted by The Bulletin newspaper of Norwich and comprised a conversational rather than a formal debate.
Education was one of several topics discussed at the debate.
"I hear the governor talking about a lot of things, but I don't hear him talking about children," Foley said, explaining his plans to prioritize education.
But Malloy highlighted the work he's done and said Foley hasn't come out with a concrete proposal on education reform.
"We're doing things to turn education around," Malloy said. "That's why in 12th grade, we now rank No. 1 in reading."
Gun control was also on the table Wednesday night.
"I believe that everyone should be subject to a background check when they go to buy a weapon," Malloy said, firmly announcing that he would never repeal the controversial gun bill passed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
Foley said he would make some changes to the bill and alleged that Malloy "didn't do things that would've prevented another Newtown from happening."
"In fact, I don't think we are safer," Foley said.
The conversation then shifted to the issue of public safety.
Malloy said he's "proud of making cities safer and school children safer and teachers safer," but Foley expressed his skepticism.
"We have three of the top six cities under a population of 200,000 with the highest crime rates in the country: Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, so for the governor to go around saying that crime is low and it's not a problem is insulting to those communities," Foley said.
The candidates then broached the subject of the state's economy, with Malloy touting his investments in education and transportation infrastructure and Foley juxtaposing the issue of declining incomes with a higher cost of living.
This election marks a replay of 2010, when Malloy ultimately defeated Foley by 6,404 of the 1.1 million votes cast that year.
Conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti was not invited to participate.