Here are the Danbury-area candidates running for state House and Senate seats in CT's 2022 election

Voters will go to the polls on Nov. 8 to decide who should represent them in the state House and Senate, among other races. We asked candidates in the Danbury-area races about their background and how they'd address their top two issues.

Some responses have been edited for length or clarity.  

House District 2 

Republican Jenn Lewis

Town: Bethel

Education: Bethel High School, Attended Western Connecticut State University 

Previous political/civic experience: None

Top two issues:

Affordability: Connecticut continually overspends, which leads to more and more taxes. I join many of my fellow conservative candidates across the state in supporting a plan that eliminates numerous taxes that cost more to collect than they bring in. I want our legislature to take logical fiscal steps that will go a long way toward easing the burden on residents and small businesses. I would also support reductions to sales and gas taxes.

Crime: We need to support the police — the people who keep us safe. Police are members of our communities; they deserve our respect and admiration for what they do. I would like to see a major overhaul, if not a repeal, of the police accountability bill, particularly the return of qualified immunity. I would like to see more resources to support officers and troopers. I support a full overhaul of “soft-on-crime" laws that we continuously seen passed in Connecticut.

Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan (incumbent) 

Town: Bethel

Education: Did not respond

Previous political/civic experience: Did not respond

Top two issues: Did not respond

House District 67 

Republican Bill Buckbee (incumbent)

Town: New Milford 

Education: Indiana Institute of Technology/WCSU

Previous political/civic experience: Elected 2016 to state House

Top two issues:

Mental Health and addiction services demand our attention as the pre-existing pandemic. Also the fiscal state of Connecticut is front and center. With inflation out of control nationally, we need to make significant efforts at home to reduce taxation. It's so difficult to pick only two issues when there is so much work before us that demands our attention. 

Democrat Alexandra Thomas

Town: New Milford

Education: BA Business 

Previous political/civic experience: 16 years on New Milford Board of Education, Town Council 1/22 - current

Top two issues:

Help New Milford get its fair share of available funds from the state by making myself aware of funding opportunities and making a strong case for our needs. Involving more residents in the decisions made in Hartford by sending regular e-newsletters, podcasts, and meeting regularly with New Milford residents and leadership.

House District 69: 

Republican Cindy Harrison (incumbent running unopposed) 

Town: Southbury 

Education: MBA UConn Accounting Upsala College

Previous political/civic experience: Assistant to the first selectman in Southbury

Top two issues you want to address: Make Connecticut affordable. Support parental rights, law enforcement, seniors and veterans

House District 106: 

Republican Mitch Bolinsky (incumbent running unopposed)

Town: Newtown

Education: Did not respond 

Previous political/civic experience: Did not respond

Top two issues: Did not respond

House District 107

Republican Martin ("Marty") Foncello 

Town: Brookfield 

Education: MBA finance; Bachelor of Science in chemistry

Previous political/civic experience: Brookfield first selectman - 1999-2003 (two terms)

Top two issues:

Economy/inflation/taxes — We need fewer and lower taxes, we need to balance the budget, and we need a business friendly climate to encourage businesses to open and create jobs

Law enforcement/crime —We need to fully fund and support our police departments, and give them the tools they need to fight crime

Democrat Phoebe Holmes

Town: Brookfield

Education: Bachelor of Science in political science- Western Connecticut State University; Master's Degree in education from The University of Bridgeport

Previous political/civic experience: Brookfield Zoning commissioner. Many local and national electoral campaigns. 

Top two issues:

As your state representative in Hartford, I will be honest and truthful. I promise to defend democracy and protect our rights. I believe in liberty and justice for all, and I will help working families and the middle class by making good decisions for them.  I will advocate for women's rights and all human rights. I will also work hard to put forth legislation to combat climate change and help the climate crisis. 

Our elected leaders should be accessible, adaptable, forward thinking, and always listening. You have my word that I will be that kind of elected official. I will be a public servant who leads with love, dignity, authenticity and compassion. My background and experience are the perfect fit for taking on all the duties of a CT state representative. I am qualified, capable, and excited to bring new ideas to the table, and hope to my constituents.

House District 108: 

Republican Patrick Callahan (incumbent) 

Town: New Fairfield 

Education: Bachelor of Arts- WCSU

Previous political/civic experience: Seeking re-election, served two years in CT House, also elected twice to New Fairfield Planning Commission

Top two issues:

My top priority is making life more affordable in Connecticut. We need to remove the additional diesel tax and highway use tax for trucks as these costs are passed on directly to the consumer in Connecticut. Increase the threshold for income tax exemption for retirees in Connecticut. I would also make sure that Hartford does not dictate zoning regulations in our towns.

Democrat Jeff Ginsburg

Town: Sherman

Education: Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering from Duke University; Master of Science of electrical engineering in health care technology from Washington University at St. Louis

Previous political/civic experience:

Chair of Finance Committee of Candlewood Yacht Club in New Fairfield; Chair of the Democratic Town Committee; Founding member and Sponsor Chair of the Photography Club of the Great Hollow Nature Preserve New Fairfield; Founding member of the Sherman Artists Association, Annual lake cleanup crew

Top two issues:

I would be expanding the support for the health, safety, and economics of the area’s lakes. For those struggling with their bills, I would also be driven to help, such as working with Eversource and making funding more readily available without any compromise to the state’s finances. This includes focus on the availability of mental health services, particularly for students, seniors, and veterans.

House District 109: 

Democrat Farley Santos

Town: Danbury

Education: Henry Abbott Technical High School Class of 2007. CT School of Finance and Management Class of 2018. Currently enrolled at CT State Community College (NVCC)

Previous political/civic experience: Board of Education Member: 2017-2019. Current City Councilman since 2019

Top two issues:

Issues that I'm passionate about are making Connecticut more affordable for working families and seniors. Affordability and accessibility for health care. Veterans issues and education

Republican Jesy Fernandez

Town: Danbury

Education: Did not respond 

Previous political/civic experience: Did not respond

Top two issues: Did not respond

House District 110

Democrat Bob Godfrey (incumbent)  

Town: Danbury

Education: St. Peter School, Immaculate High School, B.A. Fordham University, J.D. UConn Law School

Previous political/civic experience: State representative since 1989; previously member of Danbury City Council

Top two issues:

1) The Economy
•    Follow up on the over $600 million in tax cuts targeted to working families
•    Extend the gas tax suspension
•    Raise the minimum wage and protect Paid Family and Medical Leave
•    Pay down the pension debt
•    Protect the phased-out income taxes on social security, pensions and annuities for senior citizens
•    Tax rebates for new jobs created in targeted fast-growing industries
•    Pandemic pay and increased tax relief for first responders and volunteer firefighters

2) Protect our personal rights to privacy. The U.S. Supreme Court has promised, as part of the Dobbs case overturning the right of women to exclusively control their own bodies, to have big government suppress our right to privacy by dictating whom we can marry, and prohibiting the use of contraceptives, Additionally, I will be collaborating with colleagues on health care, crime, gun violence, and global warming.

Republican Eric Gleissner

Town: Danbury

Education: BBA Human Resources Management 

Previous political/civic experience: First-time politician

Top two issues:

Affordability: Prices are skyrocketing and our residents need help. It’s time to take control of unnecessary spending and reduce state taxes. The cost of living is outrageous and residents deserve a tax relief that would include reducing middle class income tax rates, reducing gas taxes, and eliminating the Democrats' truck tax that will further increase the cost of food, goods and services.

Federal infrastructure funding: When I get elected I want to make sure that Danbury gets its fair share of funds from Hartford. We’re the seventh largest city in Connecticut and we need to make the improvements that are necessary. I don’t want to see the money being spent on staffing and bureaucracy but instead on capital improvements that will benefit for years to come.

House District 111: 

Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo (incumbent) 

Town: Ridgefield

Education: UMass, Amherst Bachelor of Arts — developmental disability advocacy

Previous political/civic experience: Has served for two years as state representative for the 111th District, comprised mainly of Ridgefield. Involved for 15 years with the Holland Division of the Ridgefield Soccer Club, meant to afford children with disabilities an opportunity to play team sports.

Top two issues:

Everyone has seen their monthly bills increase and legislators should do everything we can to ease the economic burdens our seniors and families currently face. That is why I will work tirelessly in the next session to: increase the pensions and annuities tax relief for senior couples; expand the child tax credit; and reduce the cost of child care by encouraging the development of more state-subsidized after-school programs. 

Advocating for the women of Connecticut, especially in light of the recent Dobbs decision which has fundamentally altered the right to safe and legal abortion access will be a top priority next legislative session. I am proud of the protections we passed in the legislature during the last session which safeguard access to reproductive health services in this state. But we must continue to defend these basic rights to health care and expand our general policies meant to protect women in our state.

Republican Bob Hebert 

Town: Ridgefield

Education: Did not respond

Previous political/civic experience: Did not respond

Top two issues: Did not respond

House District 131: 

Republican David Labriola (incumbent running unopposed)

Town: Oxford

Education: Naugatuck High School, Yale University, University of Connecticut School of Law

Previous political/civic experience: Naugatuck Borough Attorney, Naugatuck Police Commissioner 

Top two issues: 1. Affordability: by reducing taxes on businesses & individuals, creating jobs, spurring economic growth.

2. Crime: get tough on violent criminals & provide additional services for addicts & the mentally ill.

House District 135: 

Democrat Anne Hughes (incumbent)

Town: Easton

Education: Masters of Social Work

Previous political/civic experience: 

2-term incumbent; Easton’s Commission on Aging

Top two issues: 

Climate justice and its intersection with economic justice, civil and privacy rights. You the people have chosen me to represent you through these last four years as we’ve struggled together to navigate this changing new landscape: of precarious democratic institutions getting weakened, more frequent climate emergencies, an ongoing deadly pandemic, workforce shortages for health care workers, teachers, essential workers, and rising inflation. Yet CT has risen to the front lines with the urgent policy leadership to meet the moment. I have been at the policymakers’ table and as a social worker in the trenches, am running to continue to serve as your elected representative at the table.

Republican Alex Burns

Town: Weston

Education: Quinnipiac University

Previous political/civic experience: 

Member of Weston’s Planning and Zoning Commission; Chairman Weston RTC

Top two issues:

I’d like to make Connecticut fiscally solvent while being socially responsible. That means small tax cuts and balancing the budget while keeping social programs funded. Looking at places where we may over budget or could afford to spend a bit less. Keeping control local and in the hands of local boards and commissions. This means opposing mandatory regionalization and other policies that come directly into conflict with Home Rule.

House District 138: 

Democrat Kenneth Gucker (incumbent) 

Town: Danbury

Education: BA

Previous political/civic experience: The current state rep for the 138th

Top two issues: There are so many issues here in Connecticut and we have only scratched the surface in the last few years for, if anything COVID, has highlighted some more than others. We need to deal with health care and see about making it more affordable as well as deal with the costs associated with needed medications. Too many small businesses are being put out of business do to the rising costs with little to no coverage to be offered. Second is to work yet again to bring back much needed dollars to Danbury schools. To make sure that public dollars go to public schools and not send needed moneys to special interest. Every year we bring back more, but somehow it never seems to go where it should and it is sad that the city is content to be 169 out of 169 when it comes to education funding.

Republican Rachel Chaleski 

Town: Danbury

Education: B.A., Biology

Previous political/civic experience: Danbury Board of Education since 2017 and current board chair, past vice-chair and secretary

Top two issues: Connecticut is one of the highest taxed states in the country. Residents are constantly burdened by additional fees on top of inflated costs of everyday goods and services.  I will work to limit the tax burden, support more broad and long-term relief rather than temporary fixes during an election year, and support a fiscally responsible budget that grows a healthy economy.

For years, Danbury has not received its fair share of state education funding nor fair access of state education programs.  Connecticut is currently phasing in a new education funding formula over 10 years, as the result of the 2017 bipartisan budget. I will work to adopt a new model for education funding so Danbury finally receives its fair share, while also working to ensure our students have equal access to state programs already offered across the state.

Senate District 24: 

Democrat Julie Kushner (incumbent) 

Town: Danbury

Education: Bachelor of Arts

Previous political/civic experience:

Incumbent senator since 2018, chair of Labor & Public Employees Committee, vice chair of Public Health, serve on Appropriations, as well as several other committees

Top two issues:

We passed a budget with $600 million in tax breaks — helping those who need help the most. I want to help Connecticut families make ends meet. For example — we eliminated taxes on pensions and annuities for folks living on low-fixed incomes. I think we should raise the income levels to help more seniors. We should increase the child tax rebate (currently up to $750 per family) and make it permanent. We suspended the 25-cent gas tax until Dec. 1; I would continue that until the cost of gas goes down.

We know poor ventilation in our schools can cause the spread of infectious diseases. The data shows that it also negatively affects student performance.  As Senate chair of the Working Group on Indoor Air Quality in Public Schools, I’m meeting with school administrators, educators and other professionals to develop recommendations to ensure schools provide students with optimum conditions for learning.

Republican Michelle Coelho

Town: Danbury

Education: Did not respond 

Previous political/civic experience: Did not respond

Top two issues: Did not respond

Senate District 26: 

Republican Toni Boucher 

Hometown: Wilton

Education: USD, BS; UCONN, MBA

Previous political/civic experience:

I have served as a Board of Education chairman; on the Board of Selectman; on the state Board of Education and state Board of Education for Vo-Tech Schools. I later served as an assistant minority leader in the Connecticut House and a chief deputy minority leader in the state Senate as well as a leader of the Education and Children’s Committees. As a result of my work for education quality and equity for children, I was proud to be named a children’s champion seven times by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. I have also been a leader in Fortune 50 companies and a major investment firm where I co-authored a white paper on ethics and nonprofits and founded small businesses in Norwalk and Wilton. I have an UCONN MBA and working with its business school to create an entrepreneurship department. I have held Series 7, 63 and 31 investment licenses. This private business background gives me a real understanding of what it takes to start a business and create jobs. Working across party lines and respecting your colleagues are the best way to achieve our goals and why I am a facilitator for the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

Top two issues you want to address and what you would do about them:

We must make sure that our children make up the loss learning in reading and math due to the pandemic using American Rescue Plan Act funds to invest in remediation programs. I would oppose mandatory school regionalization. Decisions should be made locally and with the involvement of parents. Unfortunately, regionalization is still on the table as quoted by former Speaker Brendan Sharkey this June.

Hartford needs to reform its 8-30g affordable housing statutes by including existing properties that meet income-based affordability standards and eliminate the requirement for deed restrictions for owner occupied affordable housing which restricts the ability to create home equity. Zoning decisions are best made on a local level by local planning and zoning commissions with community input. I would protect local control of our homes and our property rights. We need to reform 8-30g instead of expanding it as Hartford has proposed to do this year.

Democrat Ceci Maher

Hometown: Wilton

Education: Bachelor of Science in fashion marketing; Master’s in social work

Previous political/civic experience:

I trained at Stanford’s Social Innovation Nonprofit Management Institute and Harvard Business School's Executive Education. I was executive director of the Horizons National Student Enrichment Program, providing children access to education; CEO of Person-to-Person, serving 25,000 people a year in Fairfield County; and executive director of Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, creating safe classrooms and preventing gun violence. I served on the Wilton Board of Finance, on the Wilton Library, Wilton ABC, Children’s Learning Center and Minks-to-Sinks.

Top two issues you want to address and what you would do about them:

Gun violence prevention and safe schools: Families and children are scared in our communities, worrying about gun violence. We need to address the impact of active shooter drills on our children’s mental health and create gun laws that restrict access and keep children safe.

Addressing climate change: Let’s start by modernizing our transportation sector, which accounts for 38 percent of carbon emissions. I’ll work to make electric vehicles more affordable and charging stations more accessible, and invest in green, efficient public transportation that will also reduce traffic congestion on our roads. I’ll also partner with municipal leaders to create more bike paths and green space and support sustainable local initiatives. We can do all of this while creating good-paying green jobs.

Senate District 28: 

Republican Tony Hwang

Town: Fairfield

Education: Cornell University, Bachelor of Science

Previous political/civic experience: 

The Center for Family Justice, Operation Hope, Homes with Hope, Coastal YMCA, Wakeman Boys & Girls Club, Home of the Brave, Child & Family Guidance Center, Fairfield PTA, Little League Baseball, Girls & Boy Scouts, Fairfield RTM, CT General Assembly House of Representatives (134th), CT General Assembly Senate (28th)

Top two issues you want to address and what you would do about them: 

Affordability: We are battling historic inflation and rising costs that impact everyone. We need to ease the tax burden and make CT affordable. Solutions: Reduce income tax for working and middle class from 5 percent to 4 percent for individuals earning less $75,000, joint filers earning less than $175,000 annually. Reduce the sales tax and eliminate meals tax. Suspend the 1 percent meals tax on prepared foods and reduce the sales tax from 6.35 percent to 5.99 percent. 

Local governance: Our best solutions are collaborative and engage the input of ALL impacted shareholders, rather than a one-size-fits-all state government mandated control. Solutions: Education — Collaborate with local boards of education, parental and shareholder advocacy affecting education. Land use and zoning — We need collaborative solutions to increase housing availability in our suburbs, rural and urban communities. State mandated laws like 8-30g overriding local governance and personal property rights are outdated and penal.

Democrat Tim Gavin

Town: Fairfield 

Education: B.A., Yale University

Previous political/civic experience: 

Four years as active duty infantry officer in US Army; currently serve as a captain in US Army Reserve

Top two issues:

1. Safety — We need to make the internet, and especially social media, safer for kids and teens. If elected, I will author legislation to provide guardrails for our youngest internet users, modeled off a bipartisan bill that recently passed unanimously in the California State Senate. An age-appropriate design code would ensure online platforms are built to take the wellbeing of children into account. Additionally, nearly half the guns recovered from crime scenes in Connecticut come from out of state. So it is critical to fund a Gun Tracing Task Force to track the interstate flow of illegal guns. Finally, I would sponsor legislation regulating bulk purchasing of firearms. Per the Gifford Center, this would significantly reduce the number of guns that enter the secondary market.

2. Affordability — I will champion a permanent CT Child Tax Credit and fight to expand the Earned Income Tax credit, proven anti-poverty policy solutions.

Senate District 30: 

Stephen G. Harding

Town: Brookfield

Education: Albertus Magnus Bachelors, New York Law School JD

Previous political/civic experience: Brookfield Board of Education 2013-2017, state representative 107th 2015-present

Top two issues:

Affordability and open space preservation. I have always been committed and will continue to be committed to reducing the tax burden upon the residents of our district. This must be coupled with fiscal responsibility at the State Capitol. Additionally, I have always been an advocate for local control on zoning issues. This is key to preserving our open space in the 30th District and curbing over development. I have and will continue to stand against any efforts to create statewide zoning in Connecticut. 

Democrat Eva Bermúdez Zimmerman 

Town: New Milford 

Education: Bachelor of Arts

Previous political/civic experience: Council person

Top two issues: I would incentivize additional insurance companies to participate on the Access Health CT Exchange and add additional services for dental & optical. Expand private coverage for additional people to qualify for affordable silver Preferred Provider Organization plans, as well as add additional rebates for business owners using the exchange to cover employees. 

To expand the work of Child Care For Connecticut’s Future, I would expand on Head Start & Care 4 Kids program. I would pass legislation permanently allowing parents or guardians who qualify for Care 4 Kids due to the state median income/federal poverty level to receive a subsidy if they are in school. I would also expand the income levels to allow families making a combined income of $150,000 to qualify. I would set aside funds to start a universal child care program that ensures early child care educators be compensated at commensurate levels as public school educators. 

Senate District 31

Republican Eric Berthel (incumbent) 

Town: Watertown

Education: BA English, Manhattanville College; MS Ed University of Bridgeport

Previous political/civic experience:

2011-2014 vice chair, Watertown Board of Education; 2014-2017 state Rep, 68th District; 2017-present; state Senate, 32nd District

Top two issues:

1) Make Connecticut affordable again by reducing taxes and the cost of living 2) Restore powers to law enforcement so the can do their jobs and reduce crime

Democrat Jeff Desmarais 

Town: Watertown 

Education: Bachelors Degree UCONN

Previous political/civic experience: Watertown Town Council 2017, 2021; Wtwn Public Buildings 2018-2020;

Top two issues:

Health care — reducing our most outrageous expenses by addressing excessive profiteering of sick people, by allowing for a public insurance option to reduce overall costs, tighter cost controls on prescription medication; reducing out of pocket expenses for individuals and families; protecting women's reproductive rights, as well as marriage equality

Education — better fund our schools, provide an education curriculum the best prepares our youth for success, create better emphasis on trade and technical education, reduce costs for in-state tuition and incentives for students to stay in CT after graduation