State Rep. Anthony Nolan and Kat Goulart

Goulart and Nolan Stake Different Directions in New London Race

After competing once before in a 2019 special election to fill the seat of then-State Rep. Chris Soto, who left to join the incoming Lamont administration, Democrat State Rep. Anthony Nolan and Republican Kat Goulart face off again to represent New London and the 39th District in the State House of Representatives. 

Nolan, a father and grandfather, longtime New London police officer and 4-term city council member who won 51 percent of the vote in the four-way 2019 race, said he is hopeful for a second-term in Hartford. Goulart received 14.7 percent of the vote in that race.

“I think I’m a person of good character and that when it comes to helping out our community, I have open ears and listen to what the people say,” he said. 

“We need to help small businesses and landlords, that’s a big one. We haven’t been able to address these problems,” Nolan said. “I am hearing a lot of complaints from landlords saying that people are getting money and still not paying their rent. I understand people need food, but a certain percentage should go to the landlords. This is a huge thing that we’ve been trying to discuss and deal with.” 

If Nolan is re-elected this fall, he said that his priority will be economic recovery form the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to help small businesses and landlords, that’s a big one. We haven’t been able to address these problems,” Nolan said. “I am hearing a lot of complaints from landlords saying that people are getting money and still not paying their rent. I understand people need food, but a certain percentage should go to the landlords. This is a huge thing that we’ve been trying to discuss and deal with.” 

Nolan praised Gov. Ned Lamont for his use of executive power to help residents, businesses and the unemployed during the initial phases of the pandemic, but said that more help is needed.

“I think the federal government needs to get off their butt,” he said. “We are waiting on the next round of funding that is going to be available …. The biggest thing is making sure people are getting enough assistance and we aren’t doing that right now.”

Goulart, a small business owner, member of the New London Economic Development Commission and chair of the New London Police-Community Relations Committee, said that her priorities are focused on the longer term. 

“Although New London is a blue city, that doesn’t mean we don’t have diversity in political thought in general,” Goulart said. “We haven’t had someone who is reaching out in the community and bringing those issues up to Hartford. That’s what I could bring to this seat.” 

“My first and foremost goal is to make it more affordable to live in Connecticut and specifically in New London,” Goulart said. “We have been taxed with poor spending, poor planning and increased taxes … our focus needs to be on the pocketbook issues, the things that directly leave more money in our pockets and in our bank accounts at the end of the day. 

While acknowledging that New London has a history of voting for Democrats — the 39th district seat has never been held by a Republican – Goulart said that didn’t mean that the city’s views were well represented at the Capitol. 

“Although New London is a blue city, that doesn’t mean we don’t have diversity in political thought in general,” Goulart said. “We haven’t had someone who is reaching out in the community and bringing those issues up to Hartford. That’s what I could bring to this seat.” 

Policing bills

Goulart said that policing is one issue where everyday people of New London are not being heard in discussions at the State House. 

“While the intent of the [police accountability] bill passed this summer was really good, it created tensions between the law enforcement and the community,” said Goulart. 

As an example, Goulart pointed to the portion of the police accountability bill restricting the acquisition of military surplus equipment by local police departments.

“While the intent of the [police accountability] bill passed this summer was really good, it created tensions between the law enforcement and the community,” said Goulart. 

“They said the visual of the vehicle could cause trauma in the community, but on Saturday night our local police had to call the State Police to get their armored vehicle in because of a particular situation,” she said. “It took three hours to get here and it’s not the first time we’ve had to call in the State Police for their armored vehicle.”

Nolan said that as an active police officer in the city, voting to pass the policing bill had put him in the “hot seat” this summer.

“I’ve been in the hot seat with the guys because of going for the bill,” Nolan said. 

But, unlike Goulart, Nolan said voting for the bill is what the majority of residents wanted. 

“It’s what the residents of New London asked for even though the police didn’t want it. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people that I had discussions with about it,” Nolan said. 

“It’s what the residents of New London asked for even though the police didn’t want it. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people that I had discussions with about it,” Nolan said. 

When it comes to the qualified immunity piece of the bill – the part that held up debate for hours on the House floor – Nolan said he is happy to bring it back up for discussion, but he doesn’t believe it actually impacted the immunity of officers like himself. 

“I don’t feel the bill stole any immunity from them. It adjusted it to make sure that if something egregious happened they can go after them civilly,” Nolan said. 

A local focus

In the coming legislative session, Nolan said he is hoping the discussion can move on from police accountability to other measures that will help raise up city residents, such as addressing the rate hikes that many Eversource customers saw this summer. 

“We need to make sure some of these rates get fixed so that our residents aren’t burdened as they have been,” he said. “It’s really terrible when we see a delivery fee that is worth more than what we are getting in electric.” 

“New London is not getting the compensation from energy companies that they have given to other communities, such as East Hampton on Long Island,” Goulart said. “To have the pier be for a single use like this is a really, really big mistake.”

According to Goulart, New London hasn’t been adequately compensated for the wind energy project planned out of State Pier. 

“New London is not getting the compensation from energy companies that they have given to other communities, such as East Hampton on Long Island,” Goulart said. “To have the pier be for a single use like this is a really, really big mistake.”

She said that lower-income communities like New London shouldn’t bear the burden of the state’s sustainable energy goals.

“No municipality knows itself better than the local municipality,” Goulart said. “When the state starts getting involved and telling municipalities how they need to run things, it gets unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome.”

Goulart also said that keeping the state out of local zoning decisions would be part of her mission if elected to represent the 39th district.

“No municipality knows itself better than the local municipality,” Goulart said. “When the state starts getting involved and telling municipalities how they need to run things, it gets unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome.”

Goulart said that families looking for affordable housing are also looking for social services.

“If services aren’t located in the suburbs as well then it’s a moot point,” she said. 

“I believe that if municipalities don’t start lifting those restrictive housing barriers, then the state needs to get involved,” said Nolan. “The discussions need to be starting between the towns and the state to see how we can change this narrative.” 

On the other hand, Nolan said that he would like to see affordable housing opportunities throughout the state, so that cities like New London aren’t responsible for providing all the services for families in need.

“I believe that if municipalities don’t start lifting those restrictive housing barriers, then the state needs to get involved,” said Nolan. “The discussions need to be starting between the towns and the state to see how we can change this narrative.” 

Recovery from COVID-19

Although Goulart said that she is focused on long-term goals, she also said that assisting employers and small business owners recover after government-mandated closures needs to be a topic of discussion.

“From the employer front it has been a real struggle. Small business owners had a terrible time getting access to the PPP loans,” Goulart said. “There are many businesses that might never reopen. It’s scary. It’s scary as a consumer and as an EDC commissioner. How do we help people? How do we dig ourselves out of this hole?” 

“I do believe that there needs to be more communication with the legislature and the Governor’s Office,” Nolan said. “I wasn’t 100 percent for him to continue to have the executive orders, but there has been an agreement for better discussion, and I feel better with regard to that now.” 

Both Nolan and Goulart agreed that, if elected in November, they expect to be more involved in decision-making regarding COVID than has been the case for the last 6 months.

“I do believe that there needs to be more communication with the legislature and the Governor’s Office,” Nolan said. “I wasn’t 100 percent for him to continue to have the executive orders, but there has been an agreement for better discussion, and I feel better with regard to that now.” 

Goulart said that the Governor’s decision-making, with little to no consultation of state senators and representatives, is nothing short of an “overreach of power.” 

“To allow one person the keys to the kingdom for deciding everything is absurd,” Goulart said. “We have legislators for a reason.”

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