FAIRFIELD, Conn. – If you read Fairfield’s letters to the editor often, you know that the candidates in Fairfield’s 133rd House District and their supporters have had a spirited debate this election season.
The Fairfield Daily Voice decided to sort through some of the claims made about Democratic state Rep. Kim Fawcett and Republican challenger Chris DeSanctis. The following are the findings.
Claim: DeSanctis is “… a Tea Party-endorsed candidate.”
Fawcett has made the claim in emails and interviews, including in her “5 Questions” response on this website. A man saying he represented the Fairfield Tea Party endorsed DeSanctis in a letter to the Fairfield Minuteman in May 2010, when DeSanctis was vying for the Republican Party’s nomination in the 132nd House District. It is unclear whether the group still exists, but if so it has not endorsed any candidates publicly in the 2012 election.
Claim: Fawcett has a poor attendance rate in committee meetings and public hearings.
Republican Town Committee member Anthony Calabrese wrote that Fawcett had a “38.5 percent attendance rate” in such sessions in 2012. Republican elected official Gerry Alessi wrote that Fawcett missed “all four public hearings, not attending any of them” in 2012 for the Education and Technology Committee.
According to the meeting minutes of the various committees Fawcett has served on during her three terms, she is listed as attending 168 out of 212 scheduled meetings, for an attendance rate of about 79 percent in her six years in office. Excluding five meetings she missed because she was in another meeting at the time, and three with low attendance because of weather issues, the rate increases to 82.3 percent.
Fawcett’s attendance rate has dropped in 2012. So far she has attended 13 committee meetings out of the 22 held for her three committees, a rate of 59 percent. She has also missed 19 of the 23 Appropriations Committee public hearings and three of the four Education and Technology Committee public hearings (though not all four, as Alessi claimed). She has been at all three Select Committee on Children public hearings this year.
Claim: DeSanctis “favors investment in private school education over public” and “his top education priority is to divert funding from our public schools to private schools — just like the one he leads.”
Fawcett made these statements in her “5 Questions” response and an email to constituents, respectively. The latter refers to his job as headmaster of Stamford’s Grace Christian School, which Fawcett called in the same email “an ultra-religious school.”
DeSanctis’ campaign page says he plans to both “provide parents with more choices through charter and magnet school options” and “secure Fairfield’s education dollars from Hartford” but does not provide further details on either plan. His “5 Questions” answers did not mention education issues as a priority.
Grace Christian School is officially nondenominational but says on its website, “Curriculum is designed to be presented with Christ at the core of learning.” The school is also a member of the Association of Christian Schools International, which has all its schools agree to a “statement of faith.”
Claim: Fawcett “followed Gov. Malloy’s lead and her Democratic leadership in voting with them 97 percent of the time in 2011 and 98 percent of the time in 2012.”
Republican Town Committee Chairman James Millington said the above in a letter to local papers, in response to Fawcett’s describing herself as an “independent thinker.”
Millington’s cited percentages are accurate. However, the House of Representatives passed 280 bills in 2012. Of those, 208 passed either through a unanimous vote or on the consent calendar, a collection of uncontested bills voted on as a group. So every representative, from both parties, met the same criteria 74.3 percent of the time.
Of the remaining 72 bills, another 30 passed with fewer than 10 “nays,” and another 15 passed with fewer than 20 votes in opposition. In those 45 other cases, Fairfield’s Republican representatives voted the same as Fawcett. These votes mean Fairfield’s delegation agreed 90.4 percent of the time.
Leaving out those bills, 27 votes showed a real divide between parties. Fawcett was absent for six. Of the 21 votes she cast, 15 went with the majority of Democrats. That means she agreed with party leaders on 71.4 percent of bills with any controversy.