WESTON, Conn. – A question regarding a pesticides regulation prompted Leon Karvelis to condemn State Rep. John Shaban’s (R-135th District) environmental record, which provided the fireworks in their debate Saturday morning at the Weston Library.
The debate, sponsored by the Weston and Redding League of Voters, pitted State Rep. Shaban, 48, against his Democratic challenger Karvelis, 69. Shaban is an attorney at Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan who has served as a state rep for two years, and Karvelis is a retired regulator and teacher who currently serves on the Region 9 Board of Education.
Karvelis said Shaban failed to vote on the issue then said, “John Shaban got one of the lowest environmental scores.”
He was referring to the environmental scorecard published by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which gave Shaban a score of 53, while State Senators Toni Boucher and John McKinney scored 100.
Shaban had the scorecard with him at the debate, holding it up to the audience and proclaiming it a “special interest group scorecard” which shouldn’t be of concern to voters.
A member of the audience took issue with Shaban’s remark. “The most memorable moment of the debate was the grotesque obsession of Shaban trying to defend his hideous environmental scorecard,” said Harvey Bellin.
Both candidates discussed economic issues with Shaban saying the state should stop increasing spending and shrink its work force of 55,000 employees. “Some of the jobs can be outsourced to the private sector,” he said.
Karvelis said he’s opposed to tax increases and advocated cutting corporate franchise taxes.
There was also discussion of education reform with Shaban saying the bill that was passed in May was emblematic of party coordination while Karvelis said he might not have voted for it because of its impact on tax payers.
The candidates were allowed two minutes to respond to each question with one minute follow-ups. They were not permitted to speak while the other was responding, which led to a brief interlude by the moderator, Jean Rabinow, after Shaban interrupted Karvelis.
A few of the attendees expressed support for Karvelis after the debate. “The debate was an eye opener for getting to know the candidates,” said Georgiana Silk. “The Democratic candidate was well prepared and had a lot of substance.”
“Mr. Karvelis was better on details even though Mr. Shaban has been in Hartford for years,” Harriette Heller said.
The candidates will debate again at the Redding Community Center on October 24.