LETTER: The Pitfalls of Vote Splitting

Submitted by Svetlana Wasserman

If you listen to Greenwich’s Republican leaders, they won’t denounce a thing Trump has said or done, and they’ll be quick to tell you that the positions of the national GOP have nothing to do with local candidates. If you can’t stomach voting for the dumpster fire in the White House, they’ll tell you, you can split your ticket and support local Republicans, who are nothing like Trump and his cronies.

But are they really different?

Covid response Remember when Trump was promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID, a claim so misguided that the FDA revoked approval of its use for COVID and the WHO issued a health warning? 

Trump was joined in his cheerleading for hydroxychloroquine by our own GOP State Representative Harry Arora. Arora also downplayed the virus, writing that it could be brought under control within eight weeks.

Like Trump, Arora and GOP candidate Ryan Fazio criticized lockdowns as having little public health value, even as the Columbia School of Public Health released a study finding that NYC’s lockdown led to a 70% reduction in the spread of the coronavirus.

Black Lives Matter Trump has failed to act on or even acknowledge the scourge of violence against Black Americans at the hands of the police. All four GOP candidates–Harry Arora, Ryan Fazio, Kim Fiorello and Joe Kelly–have taken a page from the Trump playbook by opposing the most important civil rights legislation to pass in Connecticut in recent history–the Police Accountability Act. The law mandates body cams, bans chokeholds, and creates an independent inspector general to investigate deadly use of force by police.

Environment Nationally, Trump has called climate change a hoax, and stripped environmental protections to the benefit of polluters. Locally, not much is different. The CT League of Conservation Voters singled out six lawmakers for being out of sync with the environment. All are Republican.

Kim Fiorello, while serving on the RTM voted against reusable bag legislation and voted to allow fracking waste into Greenwich.

Fazio and Fiorello voted for tipping fees, which do nothing to address CT’s waste crisis, and resulted in huge rate increases for Greenwich residents. Fazio favors nuclear power over wind power for CT, and calls the idea of CT following California’s lead to phase out gas-powered cars “insane.”

Like Trump, Fazio promoted the idea that the “real” cause of the unprecedented forest fires ravaging the West Coast is poor forest management.  Arora spent his career in oil and gas trading, and cheered on Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.

Education Trump put Betsy DeVos in charge of education, and her mission has been to dismantle public education in favor of privatization. Trump’s 2021 budget proposes slashing education funding by 8.4% as well as higher education loans.

Where do our GOP candidates stand on public education? In the State House, Arora voted against establishing a loan subsidy program for students in need. In 2017, State Republicans advanced a budget cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from public higher education. In Greenwich, when the Republican-led BET voted to cut $3 million from the public schools budget this year, Fazio and Fiorello supported those cuts, and Joe Kelly, who is a member of the Board of Education, said nothing to defend our schools.

Taxes The most favored local GOP talking point is taxes – they promise to reduce the tax burden on families. So why were they silent in 2017 when the Republican-controlled Congress capped local and state SALT deductions, handing CT households the biggest per capita tax increase in the country? The General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research concluded that the SALT cap raised federal taxes on Connecticut homeowners by $10.3 billion in 2019 – roughly half of Connecticut’s entire state budget.

Our GOP candidates love trotting out their threadbare arguments blaming Democrats for CT’s debt.

I’ve yet to hear them say anything about the national debt under Trump exceeding the size of our gross domestic product. But then they’ll tell you, local Republicans are not like the Republicans in Washington. Or are they?

Svetlana Wasserman is a Greenwich resident.

Editor’s note: Letters to the Editor in support of local candidates in the Nov 3, 2020 election may be submitted to [email protected] for consideration beginning July 15 and with a hard deadline of Oct 26, 2020 at noon.