Lavielle, Rodgerson air differences in 143rd debate

Gail Lavielle (left) and Keith Rodgerson
Gail Lavielle (left) and Keith Rodgerson
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.

NORWALK, Conn. – Voters got the chance Wednesday night to compare and contrast Democrat Keith Rodgerson and incumbent Republican state Rep. Gail Lavielle, who are competing for the 143rd District seat in the state General Assembly, a spot held by Lavielle for the past four years.

The 143rd comprises parts of Norwalk, Wilton and Westport. The occasion Wednesday night was a debate held in Westport and not widely advertised in Norwalk.

The debate, sponsored by the Westport League of Women Voters, co-sponsored by the PTA Council of Westport, Westport Women’s Club and the Y’s Women, crammed two districts into one debate, forcing the 143rd candidates to share the hour with 136th District Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and his challenger, Republican Brandi Briggs.

Rodgerson and Lavielle’s differences were obvious, politically and stylistically, Lavielle with her highly polished communications-pro skills, and Rodgerson with a more direct approach and somewhat confrontational tone. This was most obvious when the discussion focused on Connecticut’s new gun law.

Lavielle said she voted for the law after receiving input from her constituents and finding they were strongly in favor. However, she said she wished there had been more time spent, that there were ambiguities that needed fixing, and that, while she would not vote to repeal the law, she would like to “make it better, particularly in the mental health section. There’s still a lot of work to do there.”

Rodgerson jumped on that statement, saying “The protections put into place need to be sacrosanct. I get a little fearful when people talk about making it better. … In 2011, when the Legislature took up high-capacity magazines, banning them, these assault-style, large-capacity magazines, our legislators didn’t stand up and call for those large-capacity magazines to be illegalized. … I believe those magazines have no place in civil society. My opponent has stated that she believes people should be able to keep these magazines legal. It’s a big point of contrast between us.”

A short while later, after speaking on another topic, Lavielle responded, saying she had supported banning the high-capacity magazines very early in the process, and that the only issue in the legislature was the “confiscation of private property.” Rodgerson shot back, “Confiscation, of course, being the possession of a high-capacity magazine.”

Most of the debate revolved around economic issues – business, taxes, jobs – and infrastructure. Both candidates scored well with thoughtful answers, with the biggest disagreement coming over the veracity of some highly publicized surveys suggesting half the people in the state want to “flee.”

Rodgerson said he disagreed, and sees a lot of development happening in the district. The key, he said, is to find a way to keep the area vibrant, a desirable place to live. He said small businesses are the key, and that losing the local businesses leads to a loss of the sense of place.

Lavielle said her constituents tell her they want to leave because it is too expensive to live here, and they cite taxes.

Both candidates spoke to the need for a strong workforce and reliable transportation infrastructure to attract and keep businesses. Lavielle held up Norwalk as an example of taking the right approach through its commitment to early childhood education.

Rodgerson said the state needs to focus on transit-oriented development to keep the younger workforce from moving to New York, and he echoed Lavielle’s emphasis of getting children an early start.

“Human capital is a big part” of attracting business, he said. “We need the same type of job training as they have in ‘red’ states, like Texas and South Carolina, and we need to have early childhood education. We can’t let residents of the cities fall behind before they even hit first grade.”

Lavielle also called for “getting our financial house in order,” and urged a restructuring of employee retirement benefits to mirror the private sector, a move, she said, could save the state $83 million a year in the short term.

To see the full debate, click here and then click on 2014 Candidates Debates for State Representative Districts (136 and 143). The 143rd candidates begin at the 1:06 mark.


15 responses to “Lavielle, Rodgerson air differences in 143rd debate”

  1. Norewalk Lifer

    The State of Connecticut should take on the model of Texas and others to attract not only business, but the workers required. With the middle class shrinking to the point that towns that were never “bedroom communities” in the 60’s 70′ and 80’s are now just like the sleepy little glen called Wilton, Connecticut, I find Ms. Lavielle’s comments and recommendations almost laughable, again, we go after the employees who have played by the rules, and paid by the rules in order to save money at the state level.

    Totally unimaginative, and typical intellectual laziness; and insofar as the gun law is concerned? geez Gail, you can’t run with the hounds and ride with the horses; pick a side, and stick to it, less we see a picture of you on a wind surfer riding back and forth.

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Norwalk Sage

    Rodgerson’s confrontational approach may be more direct, but a loose cannon is not going to get much done on either side of the aisle. And shame on Rodgerson for not taking up the mental health aspect of gun control. You can’t talk about training and education without respecting your tax base, buddy. Otherwise Connecticut would be paying to grow skills residents will take to more tax-friendly states.

  3. EveT

    The “half want to flee” idea needs to be put in context. Even the state with the lowest percentage of “want to flee” (Hawaii) has 1/3 wanting to flee.

  4. Donald Jones

    Lavielle’s cookie cutter NFIB/Koch rhethoric falls flat in Fairfield County. It is Republicans like Lavielle that support decimating social services like mental health and the proliferation of assault weapons. She was hired by Wal Mart in the wake of their funding ‘Stand Your Ground” laws not to reform their gun-slinging but to burnish their image sullied by predation on America’s Main Street businesses, reliance on public subsidy to help their abused workers keep food on the table, and direct aid to profitable assault rifle proliferation measures through Gail’s alma mater ALEC. Rodgerson uses his skills and talents and training to help Connecticut. He left Connecticut for college not to serve Wal Mart. Ms. Lavielle moved back here 5 years ago and has been disparaging our state ever since for her gain. She is and has been for 25 years the voice of a corporate right wing who care little about our towns and cities (or America) for that matter. Four years at Wal Mart and K Mart a job creator an American job creator does not make. Lavielle’s failure to pass any of her ill-conceived 102 bills over four years points to a much looser, irritating, inexperienced and ideologically-charged cannon than Rodgerson. Rodgerson has passion. Lavielle is a cunning PR strategist divorced from most of everyone’s day-to-day reality in Connecticut.

    Editor’s note: Our research shows Ms. Lavielle worked for Walmart for less than two years. There is no record we’ve found of her being employed by Kmart. Ms. Lavielle and ALEC officials have both denied she was ever a member of the organization, but did attend one gathering before, Lavielle said, she realized it had nothing to offer her for what she was doing in her district.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Donald Jones

      Sears Holding Co.=Sears and Kmart. We stand corrected. Thank you.

  5. Won and Done

    92 bills introduced…92 failed. Won and Done.

  6. One and Done

    Repeat after me, Republicans are rich and evil. You see, now elect me and all your problems in life, which are solely the fault of Republicans, will be taken care of for free by the government. And if you belong to a union, well consider yourself set for life. What a platform. What a society we can build on this model. Look around, it’s working so well for us.

    One and Done. The original. Not Watts Done is Done.

  7. Donald Jones

    Thank you, Mark. Also please see ALEC Legislative Member Rep. Gail Lavielle’s listing in ALEC’S 2011 Member directory, page 39:

    This has been denied by Ms. Lavielle and by ALEC spokespeople. See: https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/ALECletter-1.pdf

  8. Donald Jones

    That letter does not address Lavielle’s 2011 ALEC member status. Neither ALEC nor Lavielle dispute the veracity of this ALEC directory.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @donald jones

      The letter says except for one meeting that she attended there is no record of any involvement.

      On a separate issue, did you ever accept President Obama’s birth certificate?

  9. Donald Jones

    Can you publish Me. Lavielle’s denial of her ALEC member status in 2011?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @donald jones

      We did. Search for Alec from the nab bar on the home page.

  10. Donald Jones

    I’ve seen Obama’s birth certificate. He is a Hawaiian. I’ve also seen ALEC’s member directory. They are both without question authentic.

    Editor’s note: The letter from Alec tells us the directory was wrong. That ends it for us. Intentionally misleading and harrassing comments are not allowed here. Move on.

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