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West Hartford Candidates to Debate on Thursday

Jillian Gilchrest (left) will be on the ballot for a Democratic primary for the 18th State House District on Aug. 14, facing incumbent Andy Fleischmann. Photos by Ronni Newton

Andy Fleischmann and Jillian Gilchrest will participate in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018.

By Ronni Newton

The Greater Hartford League of Women Voters will moderate a debate between Democrat and incumbent 18th Assembly District State Rep. Andy Fleischmann and petitioning Democratic candidate Jillian Gilchrest on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, at 6 p.m.

Although there are state-wide candidates on the ballot for the Aug. 14 primary, both for Democrats and Republicans, the Democratic ticket in 18th District is the only one in West Hartford where there are local challengers, said Carole Mulready, chair of Voter Services and immediate past president of the League of Women Voters Greater Hartford Chapter.

The 18th district encompasses the northeast section of West Hartford, with boundaries that include North Main Street on the west and Park Road on the south.

“The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan, political organization which encourages informed and active participation in government by citizens. The Democrat primary for the 18th Assembly District is an opportunity for the League to present the candidates to the public in a live debate. West Hartford Community TV, with whom we are collaborating, has a similar mission to inform the public in a non-partisan manner,” said Mulready.

Fleischmann, a 12-term incumbent who is the House chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, announced on Jan. 29 that he would seek a 13th term. He was endorsed by the West Hartford Democratic Town Committee in May.

In addition to serving in the legislature, Fleischmann, 54, is the CEO of Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Gilchrest announced on Jan. 7 that she would be seeking the 18th District seat. After Fleischmann received the endorsement, she collected signatures and in June qualified for the Aug. 14 primary.

A former member of the West Hartford Board of Education, Gilchrest, 36, is director of Health Professional Outreach at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and co-organizer with Women’s March Connecticut.

The debate will take place in Town Council Chambers at West Hartford Town Hall, and will also be streamed live by West Hartford Community Television.

The debate will last one hour, Mulready said.

While the candidates have not been given questions in advance, they have been provided with a list of general topics that could be covered, Mulready said. Each candidate will be given two minutes for an opening statement, and then will respond to two or three questions prepared by the League. The audience will be encouraged to submit written questions to the moderator for response from the candidates.

“Our goal is to have as many people as possible meet/hear the candidates who are vying to represent West Hartford in the Connecticut State Legislature. We believe it is important to  hear their views on important policy issues for West Hartford and the state,” Mulready said.

The winner of the Aug. 14 Democratic primary will face Republican candidate Mary Fay in November.

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