February 22, 2012
Written by Juliana Simone
Newtown – The Newtown Republican town committee hosted a fifth congressional candidate debate once again at their Senior Center Wednesday evening. After a brief monthly meeting, the RTC adjourned to make time for the candidate forum. Four of the five candidates had been there since the meeting was called to order. Senator Roraback, in session, was last to arrive.
Two of the five candidates running for a second time were Mark Greenberg, a successful business man from Litchfield, and Justin Bernier, a former staff member employed in Washington and Governor Rell’s administration. Three are new entries: Farmington Town Council Chair Mike Clark, businesswoman Lisa Wilson Foley who also sought the lt. governor position on the 2010 ballot but lost marginally to popular Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, and long term legislator State Senator Andrew Roraback (R-30).
The Newtown Chairman, Dennis Bloom, had the candidates draw to see who would speak first. Lisa Wilson Foley drew the number one slot, Mark Greenberg drew second, Justin Bernier third, Mike Clark fourth and Senator Andrew Roraback took the fifth.
In opening statements, Lisa Wilson Foley said that any of these candidates would be better than (Democrat House Speaker) Chris Donovan, but that we need to pick the best one. She addressed the country’s debt, the current religious freedom issue, calls for repealing the death penalty, border security, and the contrasting democrat vision. She then spoke about her background in business and how she has had to deal with payroll and overbearing regulations that make it difficult for small companies to stay in business.
Foley said, “I want our economy to grow not our government.”
Mark Greenberg, a conservative and tea party favorite running for a second time, came across confident and convicted in his vision for what is needed to get America back on track. Ameriborn News has written in previous posts how when Mr. Greenberg ran in 2010 some blogs thought he was too extreme in terms of his plans for America if elected. It must be noted today, our Presidential candidates as well as other fellow Republicans seeking office, now mirror him in his exact views regarding our allegiance to the Constitution and dramatic cuts in terms of government departments.
From his perspective as a businessman he told the group assembled in Newtown, “we need to send people down to Washington who have written their names on the front of the checks not the backs.” He reflected how once in office, elected officials drink the Kool-Aid and do whatever is necessary to stay there (in Washington). He said it was important to stop this careerism – people need to be elected who are going down for you – not for them. Greenberg maintained his call to fellow candidates for a pledge that would agree to no pension if elected, term limits of eight years, and to not sign laws Washington elected officials are exempt from. He also believed union members should not be discounted and could learn they could keep their jobs and benefits with a Republican representative.
Justin Bernier, a former Washington staff aide and appointed state military affairs director to Connecticut’s Governor Rell, as well as an Afghanistan veteran, also running again like Greenberg, appeared equally seasoned and comfortable in reciting his policies and views to the room. Using the word “conservative” more than any other candidate, Bernier explained how important principles were and that the chosen candidate must uphold those. He said it is a false notion that CT voters want to see a ‘liberal Republican’ and that this has got us no state seats and left us behind in 2010. “We may not be the majority party but are the majority of principles.” He mentioned how neighboring New Jersey ran a conservative – Chris Christie – and won – and now they have Christie and we have Malloy. He noted Florida’s Rubio was another example. Moving to the left is not the answer, he surmised. Bernier said it was important we put up someone who believed in our party principles 100% of the time and that sending a conservative to Washington would get our state and country back on track.
Mike Clark, Farmington’s town council chairman, similar to a First Selectman or Mayor in other towns, who on retiring recently to run for Congress after a successful tenure, said he was running because he wanted his country back. He said today was not reflecting the country he was fortunate enough to grow up in and then later represent as an FBI agent. Serving six years as an elected official, he learned to deal with the mandates from Hartford, and learned Republican led local government does this best. He said we have to pass referendums and make changes that can’t do everything for everyone. It was this skill set he was running on, he told the Newtown audience. From his years with United Technologies to Town Council Chairman of Farmington, he has learned what was important to the people was not more regulations. Working for Farmington Savings Bank, he witnessed the effect of the Frank/Dodd legislation and how his company who needed nothing, not a penny from Washington, still got stuck with a million dollar bill to the government. “It’s inconceivable,” he declared. He reflected on how for 150 years Otis elevators, a United States company, now has all of their elevators made in Mexico and China because of the business unfriendly legislation from Washington that drives jobs and manufacturing out of our own country. Because this needs to change, he asked participants to look at all of the candidate’s records because this process is really a twelve month job interview. Mentioning how scary the idea was of Donovan being elected, Clark said sometimes the people who are lethargic and ill informed cause the worse problems.
State Senator Andrew Roraback (R-30), opened with the reflection that it was fitting he was the last person to rise as he was the last person to enter. He introduced a young man in the room who was from the Democrat National Committee and now follows him around wherever he goes. He said the DNC has even FOI’d (freedom of information) every email he has sent, written or received as well as his phone log since elected. Roraback said the DNC thinks enough of my candidacy to pour through 18 years of my years of service. Mentioning his schooling and work as a fourth generation lawyer, he then talked about being the senior leader on the Board of Finance at the Capitol, so he was familiar with the state’s bad economy and the current administration’s poor attempts at making deals with companies for jobs in return. He recited the familiar public approval ratings of congress, the country’s debt and borrowed money statistics. “Obama is intent on building and entitlement society,” Roraback said. In terms of his party affiliation he told fellow Republican’s “I am a Republican – make no mistake about it.” For 18 years, he confirmed, I’ve fought the Connecticut General Assembly. Going further, however, he added, “I’m an American before a Republican.” He felt being partisan should never be the end game to public service. The state senator said he did not run from his political stripe and he was a traditional New England Republican who was a fiscal conservative and moderate on social issues. Finishing with the strong numbers he consistently shows on Election Days in his senatorial district in beating his democrat opponents, Roraback surmised, “I know the issues that matter to people and I’m a good listener – listening is an important skill.” Connecticut voters need to have a voice that represents their voices, he said in conclusion of his opening remarks.