Brand, Coyner gear up for Dems' legislative primary
Democrats Sue Brand, a Fairfield Board of Education member and its former chairwoman, and Kevin Coyner, a Greenwich firefighter, are vying for the Democratic nomination and the right to try to unseat freshman Republican state Rep. Brenda Kupchick in November. Brand is the party's endorsed candidate.
Coyner, who lost the endorsement to Brand by a single vote at the Democratic Town Committee's convention last week, said he's "very optimistic" about his chances in the Aug. 14 primary. He said in an email to the Fairfield Citizen that Brand "knows only one topic," while his background and experience is "multi-faceted." "My opponent, Sue Brand, and also Brenda Kupchick, have had the Board of Education background, so I would say that is basically their area of expertise and background, which is nice to have, but I think I bring a lot more to the table," Coyner said.
Brand, however, indicated her areas of expertise extend beyond education. "It's all about relevant job experience -- education, the community, the experience I have dealing with budgets, town budgets and working on town boards."
"That's a version of what we're going to be doing at the state level," she said.
Brand, in an email to the Citizen, said she also is optimistic about winning the primary. "I'm the party-endorsed candidate. I am a Fairfielder. I've lived here for 20 years. If you want to represent the people here, you also have to know and understand the people here," Brand said in an interview.
Coyner, who moved to Fairfield three years ago, said his experience prior to becoming a Greenwich firefighter includes working as a bond trader at Citibank, and, later Morgan Stanley, and that he worked part of that time in Japan and London. He said he also worked for three years as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, where he focused on trade and natural resource issues.
"With my broad private and public sector experience, I have the background needed in Hartford," Coyner said. "I'm ready to hit the ground running and I don't need to learn on the job ... I've got a bigger picture that is better suited for the issues we face at the state level."
Brand believes her experience as a coronary intensive-care nurse and her service on the Board of Education and Board of Health "will be critical in addressing the educational, health care and economic issues looming before us." "I have worked alongside this community on education budgets for years," Brand said. "I have gone before town boards as a resident, PTA representative and elected official, with the best interests of Fairfield foremost in my mind and heart."
Coyner identified top issues facing residents in the newly redrawn 132nd state House District as education, health care, job growth, "fair taxes" and "good government." Coyner, 53, who lives on South Pine Creek Avenue, said that 5 percent of health-care users account for about 50 percent of health-care expenses and that health-care education and prevention "can go a long way toward lowering costs by reducing the need for treatment." He added that the state needs to invest in "21st century jobs that are resilient to financial market cycles" and that taxes "must be fair for all."
"As you prosper, you should be willing to give back a share of your good fortune to those that need help and are less fortunate," he said.
Brand's top issues are the economy, education, the environment and health care.
Brand, 53, who lives on South Gate Lane, said in an email that the safety of the state's bridges and highways needs to be improved and that more railroad cars should be put in service. She said she also would promote economic development and ensure education for "occupational demands of the future, including manufacturing, technology and research."
Democrats in Fairfield's 132nd District can vote in the Aug. 14 primary between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. at regular polling places. The re-drawn state House district now includes all of Representative Town Meeting Districts 1 and 9 and parts of 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8, according to the Fairfield Registrar of Voters' office, but that may change if the RTM redraws its local voting districts before the primary.