Art critique

Stamford mayoral candidates Valentine and Simmons slam city response to pandemic, give their own strategy

STAMFORD – In the first week of October, more than 700,000 people nationwide died from COVID-19. Mask warrants, vaccinations and strengthening businesses and employees devastated by pandemic lockdowns have taken center stage in Stamford, as in other municipalities.

In separate interviews with Hearst Connecticut Media, unaffiliated candidate Bobby Valentine and Democratic candidate Caroline Simmons were asked about Mayor David Martin’s handling of the pandemic and what they would do as mayor to help recovery from the city.

Valentine said that once it looked like “we’re on the other side of this pandemic,” he would conduct a review of the city’s response so it would be better prepared for future crises.

“There is no real roadmap for this, so I consider what everyone has been doing over the past two years as almost training for the next time,” said the former Major’s manager. League Baseball. “I expect we will learn about the things that worked and the things that didn’t so that next time we get the right results. And I wasn’t expecting and I won’t criticize anyone for not being absolutely right the first time.

Simmons, a current state official, said she believes Martin has “shown strong leadership” during the pandemic, adding “things are changing from day to day,” getting information and resources to residents required collaboration between the mayor, governor, state and federal lawmakers and nonprofit leaders.

“I am proud of the work we have done with our government and our state and local partners, and I think we still have a lot of work to do to overcome this,” said Simmons.

This work includes supporting small businesses and the unemployed, she said. If elected mayor, she said she would look to launch a workforce development initiative as well as a small business grants program.

Both candidates have said they will work to recruit companies in Stamford. Valentine, who has opened two businesses in the city, has offered to create a “concierge service” to help people who want to start a business get the permits and other approvals they need.

“There are a number of shippers that a business now has to pay to speed up the authorization process and the process of service it needs from the city,” said Valentine. “And I think the city just needs to understand that an additional tax on a small business or a landowner, which is actually what we’re asking them to hire these private shippers, is not the way to serve.” the community. “

COVID-19 cases have started to decline after peaking in the summer. More than 77% of the population of Stamford has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and about 69% of residents are fully vaccinated.

It’s part of a series exploring the bigger issues at Stamford with the two mayoral candidates, Democrat Caroline Simmons and Bobby Valentine, running without affiliation.

Citing the spread of the delta variant, Martin issued a city-wide mask warrant in August, requiring masks to be worn indoors in public places as well as at large outdoor gatherings on the streets. city ​​properties.

Simmons said she thought the inner mask tenure was the right move.

“I know we’re all so tired of wearing masks and we want to get past that time, but if people can just hang on a little longer, I know, I’m optimistic, we’ll get through this,” she said. . “And I think masks are a really effective and safe way to protect people, especially people who can’t get vaccinated, people who are immunocompromised.”

But she challenged the requirement to wear a mask outdoors in some places.

“I think it was very confusing, and as soon as you implemented that requirement there were a number of big outdoor events like the Alive @ Five concert and the Hey Stamford! festival, where people weren’t wearing masks, ”Simmons said.

Stamford Police Union leaders have said that at Hey Stamford! Food Festival, “anyone with a bird’s eye view of the event could see that the mandate was not being applied by the city”. For Alive @ Five and Wednesday Nite Live concerts, instead of the mandatory mask, participants were required to present proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Valentine also said he thought the mask’s mandate for outdoor gatherings was confusing.

“When our community turns on the television and sees several events of football games, say, in particular, or baseball games, where tens of thousands of people are sitting side by side without masks, then the people in charge of our town say, “If we have 100 people outside in a rally, they have to wear masks” – I think that establishes something less than trust in leadership, and I wouldn’t be involved in the confusion of our population, ”said Valentine.

Martin also demanded that city workers be fully vaccinated or tested every week. The leadership of the Stamford Police Association, which backed Valentine last month, criticized the warrant.

Simmons said she supported the requirement, noting that there is a similar one for state employees.

“I think the right way to phrase it is that we’re not saying everyone should be vaccinated. We’re just saying that if you … choose not to get the vaccine, you need to get tested every week, which in my opinion is very appropriate and fair when we are talking about public officials who are going to interact with the public. in order to keep everyone safe, ”Simmons said.

Valentine said it was not clear to him “why if you are not vaccinated you need to be tested, even though if you are vaccinated you can catch the virus.”

“Either test everyone or not test everyone, that’s what I think is a clear message,” he said.

The election for the mayor of Stamford is on November 2.

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