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Debate Theme: Workers’ Fighter vs. Generation Change Agent

Sam Gurwitt | New Haven Independent | July 29, 2020

Jorge Cabrera invoked his 25 years as a labor leader, saying he would fight for working families if elected. Justin Farmer vowed to bring a new generation to politics that will fix problems created by previous ones.


Those were the core messages from the two candidates competing in a Democratic primary for state senator as they faced off in a campaign debate.


Farmer, a Hamden Council member and fixture at police-accountability and social justice rallies, and Cabrera, a lead organizer in the recent strike by Stop & Shop workers, are vying to represent Connecituct’s 17th Senate district, which includes Derby, Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, and parts of Hamden, Woodbridge, and Naugatuck. They face off in an Aug. 11 primary.


They met Tuesday evening for a debate over the Zoom teleconferencing app. The debate was hosted by the Valley Independent Sentinel, the New Haven Independent, and WNHH FM.


The debate did not feature any tense exchanges or striking policy differences. On many topics, the candidates agreed, or at least, did not disagree.


Both said they support the police reform bill that state senators debated and passed Tuesday evening at the same time that Farmer and Cabrera faced off.


Specifically, they said they support reforming governmental immunity (read more about that here) and allowing civilian review boards with subpoena power. (Incumbent Republican State Sen. George Logan, whom the primary winner will face on Nov. 3, voted against the bill and led the charge against it.)


Both Cabrera and Farmer said they are uncomfortable sending kids back to school right now amid the Covid-19 pandemic.


“Absolutely not,” Farmer said when asked whether he thinks it’s fair to make teachers risk their health to go back to the classroom. “I don’t feel at this time that it is appropriate to open back up our schools when we don’t have a plan and we’re a month away from our kids going back to school.”


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