West Haven's Mayor Nancy Rossi and Republican challenger Barry Lee Cohen are engaging in a public debate to exchange ideas and offer commentary about what's best for the city in the future.
Last year, the city was awarded $1.2 million from the CARES act. The money was supposed to help with Covid-19 testing, vaccinations among other critical necessities, according to Rossi.
"That's what this money was supposed to be used for to help our residents, during a crisis and that's what makes this a hideous act to do something like this," Rossi said. "I'm going to do my absolute best to find out what happened, why it happened and then go forward with changing any of our checks and balances so it doesn't happen again."
Harry Lattimore is one of the West Haven residents NBC Connecticut spoke with who said that they are upset.
"I thought that was very inappropriate those funds could've been used for the community and for the things that's been going on with our youth," said Lattimore.
Lattimore's sentiments are similar to how others in town feel following the alleged fraudulent activity.
"It's not right at all, people need to find out what's going on within their community, to find out where the money is going," said Darshell Peters.
"I would like to see the people that misdirected the money disciplined in some way," said Deborah Dowling.
Republican Town Council member and Mayoral Candidate Barry Lee Cohen is calling for transparency and believes that's what the city needs in the future.
"It has broken the public trust, as it's shattered the public trust," said Lee Cohen. "We have not been accountable, we have not been transparent and city hall has not been accessible."
Cohen is also asking for full disclosure of what happened.
"It is just gut-wrenching, the idea that hundreds of thousands of dollars, potentially the vast majority of the money diverted into other areas, illegal areas," said Cohen.
Rossi said that the city is working to strengthen its internal control, is expected to have a forensic audit and mentions that those responsible will be brought to justice.