NORWALK, Conn. —Republicans gathered Tuesday to promote their chosen replacement for Gail Lavielle in the Statehouse.
“I am 100 percent supportive” of Patrizia Zucaro, State Rep. Themis Klarides (R-114), house minority leader, said during a Zoom conference call, calling Zucaro “an independent young woman who understands the needs of her day, and the small business needs and the struggles people go through day in and day out.”
Video of Zucaro at end of story
Zucaro, a Westport resident, made her desire for the 143rd District seat publicly known at last week’s Norwalk Republican Town Committee meeting. Klarides said Zucaro’s parents moved to Westport from Italy; Zucaro has lived in Westport all of her life and “has many ties in Norwalk certainly understands the needs of small towns like Wilton.”
Zucaro is an attorney who will likely face Democratic hopeful Stephanie Thomas in the fall election. Thomas challenged Lavielle’s reelection two years ago and won 48.5 percent of the vote in the traditionally Republican district.
Lavielle said Zucaro has her complete support.
“I think people in our district will find Patrizia to be open minded, fiscally responsible, and respectful of their personal choices. She’s committed to protecting our residents’ health and safety and defending the interests of our towns, while addressing Connecticut’s profound economic and fiscal issues, which she recognizes fully and is determined to do everything she can to help resolve,” Lavielle said.
“I decided to get involved because Connecticut needs change. I have not always been a Republican. In fact, I was unaffiliated for many years,” Zucaro said, going on to review points she made to Norwalk Republicans, her desire to support small businesses, improve transportation and address Connecticut’s structural fiscal weaknesses.
“It is these issues that first motivated me to get involved,” she said. “Within the past four or five weeks, however, a new issue has loomed larger than any other for everyone in Connecticut.”
“Although we have yet to see the total impact of COVID-19 It is true that Connecticut’s fiscal and economic vulnerable vulnerability will make it harder to build back our jobs, public health and economy,” Zucaro continued. “This is a time when we need leaders who will be flexible and understand the complexity of COVID, leaders who will put politics aside and address our health and safety concerns with fairness and transparency. This is a moment when Connecticut needs not partisan leadership that will be truthful, open minded and creative. … I envision a new Connecticut that rises out of COVID-19 stronger and more prosperous.”
She went on to reinforce her opposition to school regionalization and said Norwalk needs funding for its growing English Language Learner (ELL) population. In Wilton and Westport, state statute 8-30G is a serious issue and she supports reforming the affordable housing mandate.
The law requires communities to have 10 percent of their housing stock in what the state defines as affordable; if a community has less than 10 percent then a developer can do whatever they want, with no regard to Zoning regulations, Norwalk Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin has said.
Zucaro was asked if it’s possible to reform 8-30g.
“I think anything’s possible,” she replied. “And I think that if we sit down and talk about it, we’ll be able to resolve the issues that are underlying in that statute.”
She made reference to the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s effort to build a new railroad bridge over the Norwalk River.
“I support an approach to transportation infrastructure that takes into consideration the opinions and concerns of our cities and towns, so that costs and disruption to our community is minimized,” Zucaro said. “Of course, I’m referring to the Walk Bridge in Norwalk.”
“My pledge to the residents of the 143rd is that I will listen to and focus on the needs of my constituents, I will work closely with the other side of the aisle,” Zucaro said. “This race is about Norwalk, Westport, in Wilton. I am not running on a national platform, and national platforms have nothing to do with my campaign.”
Thomas said she agrees with Zucaro on many topics. COVID-19 is obviously going to take precedence now and “for me, my focus in that regard is on definitely helping our small businesses regain their footing, making sure we have an acceptable elections for everyone, especially our elder youth population and also making sure all of our children have a path to success, despite the challenges in this remote learning situation.”
“I’ve been calling people over the past couple of weeks just checking in with them … people want government, not politics and that’s why I got on the ballot in the first place in 2018,” Thomas said. When she was door knocking two years ago, Republicans and Democrats alike expressed a desire for common sense policies for small businesses, fiscal responsibility, affordable health care, and measures to keep kids from being terrified of gun violence.
Thomas said she “100 percent” believes in nonpartisan leadership, “But I don’t see how that’s possible, right now, in the current condition, with the top of the ticket that we have in the White House. That tone and tenor seems to play against the value that I hear people talking about every day.”
Klarides said the 143rd District is “so fiercely independent and wants the state of Connecticut to understand that although we want your help when we need it, we know what’s best for our district, whether it be education, transportation, and, we saw this year, with regionalization.”
Zucaro is the person can objectively evaluate a problem in an effort to fix it, “but also understands the needs and wants of their district,” Klarides said.
Westport Republican Town Committee Chairman Joseph Sledge called Zucaro a great candidate to replace Lavielle, who has held the seat for a decade.
State Reps. Tom O’Dea (R-125) and Terri Wood (R-141) also expressed support. Wood predicted Zucaro would be a “tremendous” representative because she’s “credible, capable and clear thinking.”
Norwalk RTC Chairman Carl Dickens said Zucaro has come “miles” since he first met her several weeks ago. “I’m very, very proud of you in that, and the help that you’ve got. And I see you going miles further.”