Today’s special election to fill the vacant 15th District seat in the state House of Representatives pits endorsed Democrat Bobby Gibson against petitioning Democrat Joseph Suggs.
The district includes Bloomfield and part of Windsor. The seat became open when David Baram won election as judge for the 3rd District Probate Court in November.
Gibson, 50, is a political newcomer who was elected to his first public office in November as an alternate on the Bloomfield Planning and Zoning Commission.
Suggs, 77, is a former Bloomfield mayor and state treasurer.
Gibson, a graduate of Bloomfield High School, former football coach there and now a seventh-grade science teacher at Carmen Arace Middle School, has campaigned on his local roots and dedication to children and education.
Suggs, a retired laboratory supervisor for Monsanto, has campaigned on his political experience, long-standing connections at the legislature and an ability to step in to the job without a learning curve.
Earlier this week, the two candidates met with about 75 residents of the Seabury retirement community to discuss their legislative priorities. Gibson talked about the importance of education, technology senior issues, including taxes and health care, and the environment. He promised to devote himself to the job of state representative.
“I know I will work day and night to represent the people of Bloomfield and Windsor,” Gibson said. “I have energy and the ability to listen and take advice.”
Suggs talked to the audience about his time as mayor in the early 1990s and touted the town’s growth in the economy and schools at the time.
“I want to help return Bloomfield to those days,” he said. “I think I have the experience and background to do that.”
To do that, Suggs said, the state needs to get its fiscal house in order to ensure long-term stability.
Suggs said he is in favor of highway tolls, no increase in state taxes and, because he is retired, could devote his attention to the job on a full-time basis.
“I will spend my entire time being your representative,” said Suggs, who also said he favors small business development and growth and protecting programs for seniors.
Gibson’s campaign suffered a setback earlier this week with the revelation that he was arrested for drunk driving in November.
He apologized, but said it had no impact on his desire to serve the residents of the district.
Suggs said the latest reports about Gibson’s arrest raise serious questions for the district’s voters.
"As Mr. Gibson’s opponent in the race for the 15th Assembly seat, I understand that we will differ on experience and approach and I welcome that debate. But operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol could have caused life-threatening injuries and even fatal injuries to others on the road,” Suggs said.
"The question for voters and for those who have endorsed Mr. Gibson’s candidacy is in these truly difficult times, do we need someone in Hartford with the experience to understand the issues and work on behalf of our towns, or someone who not only was stopped for driving under the influence, but failed to mention it to the delegates who nominated him to run for public office days later?"
All polling places in Bloomfield will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In Windsor the town hall polling precinct, 275 Broad St., will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.