Debating many of the issues facing Connecticut voters, two of the three candidates for the 5th Congressional District faced off Thursday. Incumbent Democratic State Rep. Jahana Hayes and Republican challenger David Sullivan engaged virtually, while independent challenger Bruce Walczak said he wasn't invited.
All of them spoke with NBC Connecticut Thursday. At the core of discussion was bipartisanship. Sullivan and Hayes sparred over each person’s ability to look across the aisle.
“Mr. Sullivan likes to talk about 95% time, me voting with Nancy Pelosi,” said Hayes.
”She actually votes with Pelosi 100% of the time,” countered Sullivan.
Walczak said it's this type of voting he stands against. He said bipartisan voting has left Congress and the House of Representatives broken.
“They haven't been able to accomplish anything. One could call it a total stalemate,” said Walczak.
Among the issues discussed was reopening the economy amidst the pandemic, a subject on which the candidates shared common ground.
“We need to continue to work toward bringing a healthcare response, so our economy can thrive and businesses can open,” said Hayes.
“We need to make sure we reopen as quickly and safely as possible,” added Sullivan.
Walczak said he leans in the direction of stricter regulations rather that opening the economy prematurely.
Developing a skilled workforce within the manufacturing space is another topic of debate in the 5th District.
“I think we have neglected the skilled trade side of the equation,” said Walczak. “We need to put more dollars in at state level and federal level.
“I think we need more manufacturing,” added Sullivan. “Not just in this state but this country."
Hayes said she'd approach this through education: calling for more community college funding and advocating for technical curriculum at the high school level.
Taxation plans of the presidential candidates were also discussed. Hayes and Walczak oppose the Trump Administration taxation history.
“I think it’s pretty clear the tax cuts that came through over the last four years had a clear cut bias to the wealthy and top one percent,” said Walczak.
“We need to have an economy that works for everyone. Not just CEOs and the largest corporations,” added Hayes.
Sullivan, though, said Joe Biden’s plan to raise corporate taxes would have a dramatically negative effect
“In Connecticut it will be economic armageddon,” said Sullivan.
The subject of extended unemployment compensation is one where Hayes and Walczak are supportive.
“To turn our back on these people right now, during a global pandemic, is not the way we built our economy,” said Hayes.
Sullivan, though, said the issue is not getting money from the government but getting people back to work.
“I think when you put people back to work you have to worry less about the government providing for the unemployment,” said Sullivan.
The topic of college debt was also discussed. Hayes believes the government should intervene to lower the cost of college, making it more affordable. Sullivan doesn’t think it’s that simple.
“Free education would be nice but unfortunately someone needs to pay for it,” said Sullivan
Walczak is middle of the road on this issue. He said there should not be complete forgiveness of college loans but advocates for lower loan rates and free community colleges.