BETHEL — State Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan is emphasizing his experience as he runs for reelection in the 2nd state House District against fellow Bethel resident Jenn Lewis, who is calling for change. 

Allie-Brennan, a Democrat, is seeking a third term in the seat he’s held since defeating Republican William Duff in the 2018 election. He won that election with about 53 percent of the vote and secured a second term in 2020 with roughly the same percentage. 

This year, the voters choosing the 2nd House District representative will be slightly different as a result of changes to Connecticut’s voting district lines, which go into effect 2023. The 2nd House District will encompass larger portions of Bethel and Danbury and no longer include parts of Redding and Newtown. 

Lewis, a Republican who grew up in the Danbury/Bethel area, said she decided to run for the seat because she’s “not happy with the current state of affairs” in Connecticut.

“I could no longer sit idle and just complain around the dinner table,” she said. “I want to be part of the solution to bring about needed change in our state.”

Allie-Brennan said representing the 2nd House District is an honor.

“During the past four years, I have crafted, negotiated and advanced a broad array of legislation that protects Danbury and Bethel’s children, environment, small businesses, employees, our vulnerable communities and our state economy,” said Allie-Brennan, who has served on the legislature’s Energy and Technology, Public Safety and Security, and General Law committees. “We must continue to build upon the successes we have achieved for the residents and families of our towns.”

Zoning, taxes

With Connecticut’s over-reliance on property taxes, Allie-Brennan said protecting state funding for the district and decreasing Bethel and Danbury’s reliance on local property taxes would be high on his priority list, along with zoning.

“Zoning decisions should be local decisions, and that’s why I have put forward legislation to reform affordable housing statutes (8-30g) so that towns are protected and rewarded for increasing affordable housing opportunities — not bullied by deep-pocketed developers,” he said.

During his time in office, Allie-Brennan said he pushed Democratic leadership to hold a public hearing on the issue, had Bethel’s town planner appointed to the state’s affordable housing task force and helped build a bipartisan coalition to work on the issue outside of the usual legislative process.

Despite the progress that’s been made, Allie-Brennan said there’s still work to be done — and he will “continue to be a champion for the vital reform needed.”

Lewis said she, too, believes zoning decisions should be left up to municipalities and sees the state’s reliance on property taxes as an issue in need of fixing.

If elected, she said her priorities would be “making sure zoning and many other issues are decisions we, as residents, get to decide for ourselves” and working to make Connecticut more affordable.

“Connecticut continually overspends, which leads to more and more taxes,” Lewis said. “As we know, taxes never seem to go down, only up. We need to get smarter with our money.”

Lewis: Policing and education

Lewis said she’s also concerned about crime and policing, as well education, in the state and would work to bring about change in those areas as state representative.

“The police accountability bill has devastated the profession and we need to support our law enforcement,” she said.

When it comes to education, Lewis — who has two children in Bethel Public Schools — says reform is needed.

“We need to take politicians out of schools and lets teachers focus on what these kids need — reading, writing and arithmetic,” she said.

Before becoming operations director of the business she and her husband, Justin, run in Danbury, Lewis worked as a behaviorist in special education for 10 years. 

Allie-Brennan: Opioid crisis

If reelected, Allie-Brennan said combating the opioid crisis will remain one of his top priorities.

“I will continue my efforts to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic so we can make our communities safer and help people suffering from addiction,” he said.

During his previous term, Allie-Brennan said he held a number of community roundtable events regarding the opioid crisis and worked to foster communication between law enforcement, community leaders and organizations.

A proponent of comprehensive drug education in schools, sterile needle exchanges and increasing access to life-saving medications like naloxone, Allie-Brennan said he believes diversion programs, rehabilitation and education need to be prioritized in order to “break the deadly cycle of drug misuse and relapse.”

2022 election

Lewis said voters should elect her because, as someone who’s in the community every day, she knows their needs and will fight to address them up in Hartford.

“I have seen how the state and the district have changed in the last 20-plus years,” she said. “We’re getting distracted by catch phrases and politics when we need to focus on the basics: balanced spending, affordability, safety, education and making our own decisions as a community about the future of our towns.”

Allie-Brennan said he’s forged strong relationships on both sides of the aisle during his time as state representative and always puts the 2nd House District first.

“Over my four years in office, I have provided steady, thoughtful leadership — reaching across the aisle and prioritizing people over party,” he said.