Brookfield's Chamber of Commerce held a debate with the candidates for First Selectman on Tuesday evening (10/12/21).

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Candidates Steve Dunn, Tara Carr and Austin Monteiro exchanged verbal blows and shared their vision for Brookfield's future. The event had become a bit controversial after the Chamber announced there would be zero capacity for spectators.

Instead of residents being able to watch the debate in-person, the Chamber held a live stream of the proceedings on Youtube. The video of the full debate is available at the bottom of this article.

NOTE: There are, what appears to be spectators in the room, in the Youtube video. I reached out to Austin Monteiro who told me the only people there were the moderator, Chamber of Commerce members and a reporter.

I watched it and wanted to share a bit of what I believe were the highlights. Most of the evening centered around the streetscape project and affordable housing in town. Below are some quotes I've pulled on those matters from each candidate.

Tara Carr on the Streetscape Project:

"It has been a complete and utter mess, a missed opportunity time and time again. I don't care if these plans were laid twelve years ago or six years ago. You've had six years of involvement Mr. Dunn and it has been a disaster. You ask ten different people on your staff what is happening down there, you are going to get ten very disjointed answers. Nobody knows the answer, you talk about streetscape, you talk about the phases of this, that and the other thing, you talk about future development, you talk about uh, let's not avoid the elephant in the room, 8-30g which I oppose tremendously I just want to make that very clear upfront. There is far too much affordable housing going on down there, and it should be no development for the sake of development. People were promised a nice downtown area, they have not gotten that, and again it's turned out to be a mess."

Austin Monteiro on Low income housing:

"I am not against low income housing, at all. I think it's very expensive to live here especially coming from a younger perspective. I have three brothers who are in their mid-20's, It's a very expensive town. The average rent for a one-bedroom house, one-bedroom apartment is $1,600 in Brookfield, CT, to me that is crazy. So, I'm not against low income housing, I think it needs to be put in the proper place, and I think we need to, at times help people in the community out who are struggling financially and who need help to get going. For the younger person in Brookfield, there is not much opportunity, I want to help bring some opportunity here for the under 30 crowd. They all leave to Texas, California, Colorado basically all my friends have left, they're not here, the cost of living is not good here. So, low income housing is not off the table for me, it needs to be in the right spot."

Steve Dunn on affordable housing:

"Yeah, when we took office there were two developments, Brookfield Village and Laurel Hill that were 100% affordable. Laurel Hill used a loophole in Federal law to move there affordable from a 20% affordable to 100% affordable, those were done before we took office. We immediately, when we took office, we are one of six towns in Connecticut that has an affordable moratorium against 8-30g. Now, I'm not against affordable housing but I am against 8-30g because 8-30g allows any developer to come into your town in one did, trying to build a six story building in our downtown and we couldn't stop them. I called them in my office, I said to them, here's the deal you can build a six story building but it's going to take you seven years. I'm going to take you to court my residents will give me the money to take you to court and seven years from now you can build it."

Here is more on 8-30g.

It will be interesting to see what happens on Election Day, the Ethan and Lou Show will cover all the results and proceedings leading up to that day. All three candidates, Steve Dunn, Austin Monteiro and Tara Carr have appeared on the show already this election season to share their ideas for Brookfield and we intend to have them all back at least once more before the votes are cast.

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