Civil, Gracious Tone At Moore-Hammers State Senate Forum

Here’s a novel approach to this caustic presidential cycle: civility in a State Senate forum. Thursday night incumbent Democrat Marilyn Moore and her Republican challenger Elaine Hammers squared off in a forum (video above) at the North End Library hosted by the Connecticut AARP and Greater Bridgeport Latino Network addressing tolls, health care for seniors, education equity, funding for Bridgeport, regional services, development and gun safety. Roughly 40 people attended.

Moore, Hammers
Marilyn Moore, left, and Elaine Hammers at forum.

Connecticut’s 22nd District covers about one-third of Bridgeport, all of Trumbull and a piece of Monroe. It’s considered a swing district due to its city-suburban registration mix.

The tone for the one-hour forum was civil and gracious, no heated exchanges, many agreements with some policy differences.

The candidates opened with their backgrounds: Moore, a retired telephone company executive who founded a health care organization for women and was elected to the State Senate in 2014; Hammers, a former state legislator and Trumbull finance director, currently small business operator and chair of the Trumbull Board of Finance.

If there was any raised passion during the forum it came during the subject of modern tolls, along state borders, which both candidates support to raise additional revenues for a budget-challenged state. A mileage tax, based on the mileage a motorist has traveled, has also been floated. To the mileage tax Hammers said “Hello, no! … I can live with tolls,” adding every state she visits has tolls.

“I support tolls,” said Moore, declaring “I see so many cars and trucks from other states that use our highways.”

On the subject of revitalizing cities, Moore declared that there must be an ongoing, institutional effort by local government to recruit businesses. Hammers suggested additional enterprise and empowerment zones. They also agreed that more regional services can save communities money. They cited a regional sewer system and regional magnet schools as examples of what has been started. Hammers added that regional services, however, must make sense. A regional health district between Trumbull and Monroe, she said, was eliminated because it did not generate the anticipated savings. Moore added that additional regional schools and a mixing of students for enhanced cultural opportunities would be helpful.

They also agreed that the state must fully fund payments in lieu of taxes for communities with tax-exempt properties such as hospitals and state bridges, an effort that was beefed up in the last year but did not go far enough. Hammers said it was wrong that Hartford, the third largest city, always receives more state support, than Bridgeport, the most populous city.

They also agreed, citing a recent court ruling, that the legislature must address the inequity in education funding that shortchanges cities.

In closing comments Moore said she is the voice for people who don’t have a lobbyist in Hartford. Hammers declared that Connecticut was at a crossroads and voters must change who is in charge of the state.



  1. The best way for Bridgeport to get a lobbyist in Hartford is to strengthen the power of Bridgeport’s Delegation. Only a handful of cities even have one. Both parties improve Bridgeport’s options. That’s why Democrats for Hammers give their choice a four-second ad here every thirty-six seconds.
    Both candidates are impressive but Elaine Hammers gives the district a better chance to extract value from Hartford.

    1. You have really flawed logic. Bridgeport gaining a member of the state legislature who is a member of the minority party has a much WORSE chance of extracting value from Hartford. We in Trumbull are already saddled with three members of the minority party as State Representatives. They are useless in extracting value from Hartford. Their votes are not needed to pass a budget. All they do is grandstand and in the case of Rutigliano speak out against giving restaurant workers a fair minimum wage because he’d have to increase pay at his establishments. Keep the D22 seat in the majority party and yield power and influence in getting a bigger slice of the pie.

        1. Thanks, Ron.
          Local Eyes’ comments are really surprising as he is a Trumbull resident who has experienced the lack of benefits minority party representation brings.

          BTW, I have only the best things to say about Hammers as a person, but that does not spread to her views/stands/actions as an elected politician. Trumbull would be ill-served by having its elected member of the Board of Finance (who happens to be chairman) be up in Hartford at the State Senate as our budget season starts in early 2017. Would we like her to either be missing votes, committee meetings and sessions in Hartford, or in Trumbull. One may not serve two masters well. No one should serve as an elected official at both municipal and state level. Make a choice, something Hammers has not done.

  2. I remember when Bridgeport floated the idea of a regional dog pound. Trumbull rejected it! I think they were afraid our pitbulls would be a bad influence on their French poodles.

  3. Just visited and Facebook page. Don’t see a word about any of this on either site. Just warm fuzzy talk about nothing. She won’t put up anything about supporting gun rights because Monroe is too close to Sandy Hook. She was asked about her supporting Donald Trump and refused to answer.
    Oh, boy. This is not what we need in Hartford.

    1. Bob, after my asking Elaine repeatedly if she were supporting Trump she finally told me this about a month ago. “While I may disagree with Mr. Trump from time to time, especially as regards his style, he is a strong advocate for America, he is not beholden to special interest groups, and as a businessman he understands the need to create good paying jobs–three areas in which we have common ground.–Elaine”

  4. Black Rock CT does not exist; however, Black Rock, Bridgeport CT does. The Senator representing the 22nd District will need to be able to adequately represent all constituents, including the half of Bridgeport included in this district, not just “Black Rock,” something I doubt Hammers is able to execute.

    Senator Moore has brought more funding to Trumbull than her two predecessors. She has advocated for each area of her district. She is respected in Hartford and is the only African American woman in the State Senate. She represents all the people of our district, not only a handful of Trumpbull residents.

    I am a proud resident of the Black Rock neighborhood in Bridgeport and resent the notion “Black Rock” and its residents are better than the rest of Bridgeport. It’s time to cut out the “us” vs. “them” mentality and realize we are all residents of Bridgeport, not contingent on who is Mayor, City Council, DTC, etc. We’re in this ship together and it’s time to act like it.

  5. She complained about the small increase in Social Security payouts. Is that because she was counting on a bigger one? Does she realize as a State Senator this has nothing to with her duties and responsibilities?
    Oh, boy. Clueless about the real issues.

    1. Mary Lou Morong, my wife, and I are Bridgeport residents and taxpayers interested in a multitude of civic issues. We are impressed with Marilyn Moore as a person, as an incumbent and as an independent Democratic candidate for the Senate this year.

      Elaine Hammers might have made some hay as a Republican candidate on her Finance service credentials but I have not seen that as a Bridgeport fiscal watchdog in a community that has no Finance Board. But that did not come through as State service that could have important effect in Bridgeport. I am content with the fact Marilyn trounced the “party” candidate in the primary this year, especially so in Black Rock, or “white rock” as some will call it today, but not when Marilyn pushes through as winner against the President of the City Council (who had a track record that could be locally evaluated). When the polls close on election day and all the ballots are counted, we were offered a civil campaign, two good candidates and discussion of some of the issues though the candidates communication generally was lost in the war of words at the top of the national ticket. Will things change? Time will tell.

  6. On Facebook Elaine Hammers is whining about Martin Looney filing a complaint alleging illegal campaign coordination between the CBIA and Republican party.
    Either Ms. Hammers is getting a piece of the $400K that CBIA is pouring into Republican campaigns or is looking for a slice of that pie.

  7. Any Bridgeport legislator who talks “regionalism” needs to be sent packing. “Regionalism” is what sent our tax base to the suburbs and packed our city full of tax-base devaluing, polluting, obnoxious, dangerous, obtrusive “region serving” infrastructure, and concentrated all the non-taxable development and city-services draining, non-taxable regional social services facilities here. “Regionalism” is killing us. More “regionalism” will just be dirt on our coffin. Only a really dumb-ass candidate from Bridgeport, or one who is totally self-serving and only trying to get elected at any cost, would make “regionalism” promises to the suburbs. No wonder Bridgeport can’t get any traction when our politicians are giving away our few advantages and cannibalizing our resources for votes.


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