NEW BRITAIN - The special election for state Senate District 6 is roughly a month away, and Democrats and Republicans in the area recently nominated and endorsed their respective candidates.
Democrats in Berlin, Farmington and New Britain held a special convention last weekend to nominate state Rep. Rick Lopes, D-New Britain, Newington, for the Senate District 6 seat. The spot was made vacant earlier this month when former Democratic state Sen. Terry Gerratana accepted a role as an adviser in Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration.
Just a few days later, Republicans in the district endorsed attorney Gennaro Bizzarro as the party’s candidate. Bizzarro is New Britain’s corporation council, helping the Common Council with legal questions and advice. Bizzarro was first appointed to the post in 2006 by Mayor Timothy Stewart.
One issue Bizzarro said he’s passionate about is finding a solution for the opioid crisis that is affecting Connecticut and much of the country.
The attorney said Connecticut needs to use its existing resources to help combat opioid addiction.
“One of the ideas I have is using existing law enforcement and judiciary framework we already have in place to create diversionary programs,” Bizzarro said. “For instance, we’ve had an increase in a lot of petty crimes lately in the New Britain and Berlin communities, and I would venture a guess that a lot of that is related, in part, to an increase in opioid dependent offenders.”
Bizzarro said it’s important to get opioid abusers into counseling earlier and be “proactive” about the issue. The candidate said the state also needs to get tougher on overseeing and regulating manufacturers and distributors of opioids.
“You’ve got people who shouldn’t be prescribed opioids in the first instance, and it’s very easy for them to get their hands on it,” Bizzarro said.
Finding an equitable formula for the state’s education cost sharing grants is another issue Bizzarro hopes to address in office. All of this, the attorney said, relates in some way to the state’s taxation system.
Lopes, a former member of the Common Council who has represented House District 24 in the General Assembly since winning a special election in 2012, said he’s running on a “working class values” platform and would bring some “common sense” to the Connecticut Senate. He thinks his background in social work and being self-employed gives himself good perspective.
“There’s a lot of attorneys, there’s a lot of people with political background up in the legislature, but there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of blue collar, working class people up there, and that’s who I represent,” Lopes said.
Lopes said he wants to fight to make sure Connecticut’s economy works for people of all classes. He also wants to explore ways to make affordable healthcare easier for residents to obtain.
“Why are the wealthy doing so well in this state and yet working people have wages that are stagnating, if not falling behind?” Lopes said. “There’s economic success out there, but it needs to come down to everyone – it needs to come down to the people working nine to five every day, people who work with their hands and people who basically do the grind.”
Polls will be open for the Senate District 6 special election in New Britain, Berlin and Farmington from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at email@example.com.