Students attend gubernatorial debate
Izzy Manzo – Contributor
Gubernatorial candidates Ned Lamont, democrat, and Bob Stefanowski, republican, discussed topics such as higher-education and housing at a debate at the Shubert Theatre last Monday.
One of the debate’s randomized questions pertained to University of Connecticut, which dropped from 18 to 22 on the U.S. News World Report’s ranking of public universities. Panelist Mark Davis of WTNH said cuts in state funding contributed to the loss and asked what the best solution is to stop the ‘brain drain’ of college students leaving Connecticut.
“I’ve said repeatedly that I’m going to be committed to education and invested in education,” Lamont said. “UConn is our flagship university…We have one of the greatest universities in the world, so let’s make sure they’re working on behalf of the greater good here in Connecticut.”
College Democrats President Jamie Kelley said other schools in Connecticut should be discussed as well.
“UConn is a flagship university, but it isn’t the sole university in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system,” Kelley said. “What about Southern, Central, Eastern, Gateway, and Manchester? What’s happening here at our schools because of increasing cuts every year is horrifying.”
However, Stefanowski said not everyone should go to college.
“We need to make college more affordable, and everyone needs to be part of the solution,” he said. “We’ve got a situation where mid-size businesses have more demand for workers than supply.”
College Republicans President Sarah O’Connor said creative approaches need to be taken to make college more affordable without raising taxes.
“I think that universities as a whole should be reformed,” O’Connor said. “I think they’re just sucking us dry. They say they do it for the students but it’s unaffordable and clearly things don’t work.”
Lamont said business leaders always tell him young people need affordable places to live.
“That’s one of the reasons why I called for a $300 property tax cut in the first year, and $1,200 in the second budget,” he said. “It makes it a little easier for that person to buy their first home.”
O’Connor said Stefanowski did a better job standing his ground than in previous debates.
“I think Stefanowski did fantastic,” she said. “His debating skills have increased, and he stuck to his clear points of what he wants to accomplish.”
In addition, O’Connor said Stefanowski’s ideas will help improve Connecticut and its economy.
“I think everyone should get behind that because Connecticut is one of the worst states financially,” she said. “We’re so fiscally destroyed as a state that social politics don’t matter this election cycle.”
Kelley said some of the points Lamont made will be difficult to remember.
“We’ll remember Stefanowski’s point because it’s about taxes,” Kelley said. “He knows that’s attracting people so he’s going to say that over and over.”
However, she said Lamont is on-point when it concerns policies.
“His approach is the pragmatic business approach that Connecticut needs,” said Kelley. “Bob expects to cut $10 billion in taxes like it’s nothing, and that’s just not possible.”
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, O’Connor said the importance of exercising one’s right to vote, and people should become more aware of politics on a state level rather than national.
“I think every voter should think ’what candidate’s going to benefit me more, and what candidate’s going to benefit the state?’”, said O’Connor. “I encourage everyone to have a wake-up call and to realize that this is going be your future.”
Photo Credit: Izzy Manzo