Jul. 27--Even while the COVID-19 pandemic continues and social issues simmer, southeastern Connecticut voters have not lost sight of the economy.
Mystic resident Ed Fialkosky, a Republican, was resounding in his support for President Trump as the better choice to lead the ecomony. Suzanne Simpson, a New London Republican, answered the question of which candidate would be more effective on the economy with similar gusto: "HANDS DOWN PRESIDENT TRUMP!" she wrote in an email.
Leo Chupaska, a Montville Republican, was supportive of Trump, though he tempered his reply.
"Trump has done a decent job -- give him credit -- prior to COVID, our economy was strong and vibrant in all areas," Chupaska said.
Waterford Republican Garon VanOverloop, who believes Trump is better equipped to lead the country's economy, also said not to judge Trump too harshly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You can dislike President Trump day all day long, but you cannot ignore that facts that our economy has been the best it has ever been under any former Republican or Democratic president," VanOverloop said. "The unemployment rate for all races was at its all-time lowest in history. Facts speak for themselves. Unfortunately COVID came about and disrupted our economy but only for a short while. The stock market is soaring again and the unemployment rate is dropping substantially. Based off of those facts I will say that President Trump has proven that he can lead this country's economy in the right direction."
Paul Nunes, an Independent from Norwich, is not Trump's most ardent backer, but on the question of the economy, he picked Trump over Biden.
"(Trump) is the most flawed leader of this country ever," Nunes said. "His style is boorish, but his ideas are on track to take this country forward."
Patricia C. Vener-Saavedra of Hamden, who identified her party as Socialist Alternative, said neither candidate can competently manage the economy.
"One is a pure fascist, the other is a Capitalist pawn," she said.
'Tax breaks for the wealthy'
Mark Bancroft, an Independent from Stonington, said he thinks Democrat Joe Biden would have a steadier hand with the economy. Bob Salen, a Niantic Independent, was more blunt.'
"Joe Biden is by far the better choice," Salen said. "Tax breaks for the wealthy continue to expand under Trump, but Biden will push hard to appropriately tax wealthy individuals and corporations. He understands the economy. Trump does not."
In most answers from Democrats, critiques of Trump were as common as, if not more than, compliments of Biden.
"Trump took office in the midst of a recovery that began in the Obama administration, rode it out, and then took credit for it," said Robert Chew, a Mystic Democrat. "He's like the rooster who thinks he made the sun come up by his crowing."
Matthew Shulman, a Groton Democrat, said he thinks Trump is guided by "nativist isolationism." Instead of articulating national policies, Shulman contends, Trump responds from his "gut."
Waterford Democrat Susan Menghi thinks Biden "cares more about the working class than Trump, who just favors the rich."
"Because of that, (Biden will) be more proactive for creating attainable jobs and assisting people who need it so they can still spend money on their essentials like groceries and housing," Menghi said.
Democrat Greg Kotecki of New London, who said Biden is "clearly the better candidate regarding the economy," took a long view of the question, arguing that Democrats seem to have to step in after Republican administration failures.
"Whether it was Roosevelt after Hoover (Great Depression), Clinton after Bush Sr. (1990s recession), Obama after Bush Jr. (Great Recession), or now Biden after Trump in what might be the second Great Depression, it's the Democrats who are the adults in the room that run the economy," Kotecki said. "Democrats will implement smart tax reform, needed regulations, workers rights protections, checks on out-of-control corporations, and healthcare reform."
Waterford resident Krista Larrow, a Democrat, said Trump's record led her to choose Biden as the better choice for the economy.
"Considering Trump is a criminal tax cheater with multiple bankruptcies whose only economic interest is in making his own bank account (and those of his friends) bigger -- I'm going to give this one to uncle Joe," Larrow said.
Minimum wage increase
Democrats Laura Lee of Ledyard, Atul Shah of Waterford, Bill Sheehan of Waterford, Sandra Tryon of Montville, William Kenny of Norwich and Kathy Neugent of Groton all favored Biden for his experience.
Kenny said Biden and former President Barack Obama "brought this nation, economy, and people back from the precipice of a near-Great Depression level of fiscal crisis." He added that Biden "has the talent, experience, and ability to create a broad and shared prosperity that benefits Main Street and not just Wall Street."
Larry Zaccaro, another Waterford Democrat, Michael Gaffey, an Old Lyme Democrat, and Samuel Browning, a Norwich Democrat, all said Biden would help poor and middle-class Americans rather than the ultra-rich.
Fredrick Turnbull, a Mystic Democrat, said the U.S. response to the pandemic "will cause long-lasting devastation to the economy" and "unemployment of the highest levels since the Depression will keep the social unrest boiling."
George Blahun of Quaker Hill, a Green Party voter, said, "Biden is clearly the better choice. For all of his shortcomings, he is basically a decent person who listens to experts in various fields for advice."
Ed Pellegri of Waterford likes Biden for the economy because of his infrastructure and green environment initiatives. Chew was also issue-oriented in his support of Biden.
"I think an increase in the minimum wage, more unionization and national health insurance would help the real economy," Chew said.
Day Staff Writers Julia Bergman, Amanda Hutchinson, Kimberly Drelich and Erica Moser contributed to this report.
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