Democrat Rosa DeLauro is running for re-election after representing Connecticut’s third district in Congress for the last 30 years.
DeLauro faces Republican Margaret Streicker, an entrepreneur and single mother of four from Milford, and Green Party Candidate Justin Paglino, a physician and father of two from Guilford.
After initial agreements in September by press aids, DeLauro’s campaign later declined to participate in this story.
Streicker and Paglino, however, had a lot to say about why they think it’s time for a change in representation for the third district.
“I want people to understand that they have a choice. This is a real, solid race right now. Our incumbent has benefited from being in a very blue district for a very long time, but that’s not where people’s heads are right now,” said Streicker, who was 14 when DeLauro first took office. “I am a very strong candidate. I have a lot to offer. I look forward to meeting people and I am excited for the opportunity to serve my country.”
Paglino said that he thinks it’s time that progressive individuals had the chance to vote for a candidate who would stand up for their values in Washington.
“The Democratic Party for a long time has taken the progressive left for granted and assumed that we would vote for them because they know we don’t want to vote for a third party because we are scared of the spoiler effect,” he said. “But, if you want to see a policy enacted you have to vote for it. You have to put on electoral pressure.”
Paglino mentioned “Medicare for all,” ranked-choice voting and climate change as the key issues that the next representative should be focused on in the coming term.
Paglino said he would be in full support of the Green New Deal and transferring 50 percent of defense spending to create a federal jobs guarantee.
Paglino said that ranked-choice voting — which will be used for the first time in a federal election this November in Maine — would allow voters to show support for a third party without risking it hurting their second-choice candidate.
“I think we need a third party to put electoral pressure on the Democratic Party. We need for people to show with their votes what they care about,” he said.
Streicker said that, if elected, her priorities were to restore the post-COVID-19 economy, to work toward affordable and accessible healthcare and to ensure the safety and security of local communities.
“I support our police forces. I think that the ‘defund the police’ initiative is not well founded. I recognize that we can always make improvements, but systematically taking them on as the enemy is not helpful,” Streicker said. “We are watching as things are crumbling.”
Streicker said she supports changes to prevent candidates like DeLauro from being elected term after term.
“I support term limits,” Streicker said. “I don’t think our system was designed for 30 years in office. We are not designed for representatives to stay around for generations. For Congress, the limit should be eight years.”
“You shouldn’t get to stay in your chair and continue to do nothing,” said Streicker.
According to Streicker, DeLauro never reaches across the aisle.
“It’s time that we have people that want to work with others,” she said. “She is so far into her own camp that she has voted with her own part 100 percent of the time in the last two years and clearly has no room for negotiation.”
Apart from changes to the federal election process, Streicker and Paglino both said that healthcare needs to be a focus in the coming two years, although each offered different ideas what should be accomplished.
“We need to address healthcare,” Streicker said simply. “One of my thoughts is on medical pricing transparency, creating an informed consumer if you will. Right now if you go into the doctor’s office you have no idea what they will be charging you. A consumer has no ability to make informed decisions.”
According to Streicker, since Obamacare came into effect healthcare costs had risen by 38 percent.
“As a business owner I feel the brunt of that. The consumers are getting less and less for their dollars,” she said. “And the quality seems to be going down.”
Paglino said that he supports expanding Medicare coverage to the general public.
“Medicare for all is predicted to save us money. It’s cheaper,” he said. “If we can cover everybody and save money at the same time, why wouldn’t we? This is the way other countries dispense healthcare. We are really last to the table on this one and we can’t even get Rosa DeLauro to sponsor the bill.”
Lessons of a pandemic
Apart from day-to-day medical needs, Paglino said that a Medicare for all program could help the country prepare for future public health emergencies like COVID-19.
“If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t put public health on the back burner,” Paglino said. “We have to spend money in advance. A stitch in time saves nine … we need to help people quit smoking, help people lose weight, we could do that with Medicare for all.”
For Streicker, in contrast, the last year has instead demonstrated the need for more local control.
“I believe in small government. All states are different and designed differently. I would rather see local autonomy, with the support of the federal government, than a top down approach,” Streicker said. “Overall, I think governors taking the lead has worked. We shouldn’t be looking at the federal government for the first and last stop on these issues.”
Streicker said that, most importantly, the emphasis in 2021 needs to be on fostering an environment that will create opportunities for businesses to rebound.
“We need to get back to a business-friendly environment instead of one of the highest business tax rates,” she said. “Connecticut is one of only two states not to have recovered its pre-2008 employment numbers pre-COVID.”