The League of Women Voters Debate

This week, I was joined by State Senator Tony Hwang, in a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters.

In an article by Josh LaBella, highlights from the debate are as follows:

"Some of Fairfield's candidates for state representative and senator debated the issues in an event just weeks ahead of the election.

While there were issues that all candidates — whether Republican or Democrat — agreed upon, such as supporting abortion rights and early voting, differences appeared in their approaches to affordable housing, public safety and attracting businesses and people to the state.

The debate was hosted by The League of Women Voters, and had the candidates for the races in the 132nd and 134th state House districts, as well as the 28th state Senate district.


Public safety and crime

Hwang said all shareholders need to be involved in any discussions about laws addressing crime. He said he would support police officers by re-evaluating the changes made to qualified immunity. He said punishment for crimes needs to be considered in a different context, adding "good people can make mistakes." He said the state should provide second chances to those people, while also trying to address the root of crime.

"We need to provide better supportive services that are outlets for young people that have been impacted by COVID and its isolation," he said. "Bottom line, crime is important in our communities. You cannot dismiss it by simple data. When people feel as though their privacy and their public safeties are violated, we need to do a better job and not stick our head in the sand."

Gavin said there needs to be community-based diversion programs to curb problem behavior among juvenile offenders, as well as improved mental health services to address crime for the long term.

Gavin said the state also needs to strengthen gun-violence prevention measures, as illegal guns on the streets puts first responders at higher risk. He said one approach includes funding the Connecticut Gun Tracing Task Force to ensure illegal guns are not coming into Connecticut.


Mental health services

Gavin said one of the largest components of ensuring residents can get adequate mental health services is funding those services within public schools. He said he comes from a background of technology policy, and thinks keeping children safe online is an important component to addressing mental health issues.

"If I'm lucky enough to be elected, I will pass an age appropriate design code in Connecticut," he said. "That will go a long way in keeping our kids safe online and helping their mental health. Right now, the most divisive content rises to the top of the news feed. It shouldn't be that way and it doesn't have to be that way."

Gavin said California just passed an age-appropriate design code, basing it largely off one passed in the United Kingdom, and noted it aims to regulate what content is recommended to children on the Internet, as well who can contact them.

"We need to think about this in a lot more ways than just funding mental health services, although of course I want to do that," he said.

Hwang said mental health resources are critical, and the need for them has been increased by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said mental health is parallel to physical health, and noted he supported bills in the legislature to make it more accessible.

"We need to spend money and make an investment in that arena, as it's significantly lacking," he said.

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