There are many problems in the 140th district, and despite lots of talk, little has changed. Three candidates, Rick McQuaid (R), Burce Morris (D), and Mytrice Riley-Wilson (D) sat in front of a small crowd to talk about the issues. The 140th district holds several minority neighborhoods, where the abstract issues melt down to the daily challenges of managing to earn a living, providing educational opportunities for children and preventing crime. The residents here are weary of the same old problems.
Bruce Morris talked a lot but had little to say, failing to answer questions and interrupting his fellow candidates. At one point candidate Mytrice Riley-Wilson, visibly annoyed just shrugged and passed on attempting an answer. It’s too bad, Wilson brought a fresh perspective to community responsibility. “We have to look to ourselves to solve some of these problems,” she explained, expanding on her journey to clean the streets and get involved in making her community better after choosing to live in Norwalk.
A typical Morris answer to subject of how can the state legislator affect the affordable housing crisis facing Norwalk. “Education is foundational to affordable housing, it’s foundational to crime prevention, it’s foundational even to health care,” began his long rambling response. He concluded with restating his strong experience in education. One member of the audience, wearing a fire department baseball camp, attempted to ask just who affordable housing was for these days, but gave up when Morris spoke for another 5 minutes without addressing the question.
For Wilson and McQuaid affordable housing and the cost of living in Norwalk were important issues. Both questioned who was able to afford the affordable housing when each cited anecdotes of people being turned away by banks when applying for mortgages. Wilson also pointed out that she knew of a woman who was qualified for a unit, succeeded in getting a mortgage yet could not afford the commons charges of the condo development of $500/month on top of the mortgage payment. Wilson pointed out that building condos and lowering the purchase price does not make the units more affordable.
Both Wilson and McQuaid spoke of the importance of tax credits to encourage companies to create jobs in the district. Morris rejected tax credits as an option and instead spoke about the need to create transportation solutions to the gridlock facing commuters from Guilford. Morris probably got confused about what city he was talking about since Guilford commuters are more likely to head into New Haven, not Norwalk. Morris’ ties to New Haven, according to McQuaid are still strong. “All his fund raising money comes from New Haven,” McQuaid said shortly after the debate, “Not Norwalk.”
McQuaid said that the state should reward businesses that hire locally instead of importing workers. “If you use people who live in Norwalk, the transportation problem that we’re talking about is changed.” Morris’ candidacy has not been without controversy this year. He’s accused (primary challenger) Common Council member Carvin Hilliard of distributing flyers against him, going as far as filing an official complaint which was dismissed. McQuaid pointed out after the debate, that Morris does not live in the district anymore having recently moved across the line.