WALLINGFORD — Three of the four state legislative positions representing Wallingford remain uncontested with party conventions expected in the coming weeks.
Democratic incumbent Liz Linehan, who is running unopposed for the 103rd House district so far, believes it will be difficult at this point for a candidate to qualify for Citizens’ Platform campaign funding.
“It’s very late, it’s very late for people to intervene,” she said. “I think it’s important for people to stand up and exercise their democratic right and run for office, but it’s important for people to know that the longer they wait, the harder the battle gets.”
Democratic State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, who was unavailable for comment, is also running unopposed so far in the 85th House District.
Republican State Sen. Paul Cicarella also remains unopposed in his second run for the state’s 34th Senate District. Alida Cella, chairman of the Democratic Town of Wallingford Committee, filed for the district, however, she said her file was a placeholder in case a candidate ran.
“The deposit is for a placeholder in case someone comes forward, that way they don’t have to ask,” Cella said. “We hadn’t done something similar two years ago for the 90th, and then Jim Jinks decided late in the game that he wanted to challenge Fishbein. Because we didn’t hold a convention or have a stand-in candidate he had to petition about, we couldn’t just endorse him.
Fishbein won that race by seven votes in 2020. The redistricting process this year has led to the 90th House District being redrawn eastward in such a way that Cheshire resident Jinks no longer lives within its boundaries.
The nature of a part-time legislature that works full-time for a few months a year limits who can afford to run for office, Cella said.
“Part of the challenge of finding good candidates is the amount of work it takes to race, and the fact that at the end of the day it’s a part-time job, working full-time for several months, paying 30 $000 a year,” Cella said. “We need a full-time legislature that pays a living wage if we want good people to show up.”
Cicarella said he was honored to represent Wallingford for the past two years.
“I really focused on the things that I talked about when I was originally running: it’s public safety, making Connecticut more affordable, getting people back to work, and taking care of small businesses,” said Cicarella.
Wallingford resident Rebecca Hyland challenges Fishbein. A former public defender in Virginia, she will focus on the juvenile justice system, which she says should take a more proactive approach to preventing crime through community interventions and supports.
“Based not only on research, but also on my own experience, I know what works and what doesn’t and the current push, in fact led by my adversary, to increase incarceration and heavier punishment… not going to work,” Hyland said. “It’s a reactive approach that mostly reacts after the crime has already happened and it won’t actually solve any of the problems.”
Improving access to healthcare is another core element of Hyland’s platform. As a type 1 diabetic, she would push for price caps on prescription drugs such as insulin. Expanding access to public transportation, universal pre-kindergarten and improving job training are also important to her.
A native of Northford, Hyland is a graduate of the George Washington Law School in Washington, DC. She moved to Wallingford in 2016 and taught at Sacred Heart Academy for five years until the pandemic hit.
Fishbein, who did not respond to calls for comment on this article, has been a state representative since 2016 and has served on Wallingford City Council since 2010.
Linehan said she had a proven track record of improving state finances while providing relief to families throughout the pandemic. She also highlighted the passing of legislation she helped draft to expand mental health care for children.
“The historic amount of the rainy day fund, the fact that we’re going to end the year with an unprecedented surplus … just shows that years of Democratic leadership through this pandemic have been successful,” he said. she stated.
Journalist Devin Leith-Yessian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.