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Norwalk's At-Large Candidates Spar

NORWALK, Conn. – Republican Doug Hempstead called himself "the old sage at the table" Thursday night at City Hall, citing his 18 years of experience when asked about his decision-making style. Democratic newcomer Sharon Stewart, who is used to talking but was facing a microphone for the first time, said her goal was to look at every issue and make improvements.

The first League of Women Voters debate was under way. Common Council at-large candidates — Republicans John Tobin, Fred Bondi, Joanne Romano, Victor Cavallo and Hempstead and Democrats Anna Duleep, Warren Pena, Kate Tepper and Stewart — answered questions culled from the crowd of about 70 people, as well as questions written by the debate's sponsors.

Democrat Yvonne Rodriguez was missing because of a family emergency, league members said.

The first question concerned decision-making styles, and each candidate answered it. One Democrat and one Republican answered each question in the second round.

One of the questions concerned development: "None of the four major redevelopment projects in the city have made significant progress in spite deadlines and commitments that have passed. What are your plans to accelerate these long promised projects? And please be specific." In the video, Hempstead and Pena answer the question. (Other videos will be posted by The Daily Norwalk and are available here .)

The debate ended with a statement by each candidate about why they are running.

Diane Lauricella, a league member who helped organize the event, said a member of the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations and a member of the league screened the questions. "It was the most number of questions we've had," she said, adding that the ones that weren't used might pop up in future debates.

Charlotte Garrell of Fairfield moderated. The league member has been serving in that capacity for at least 10 years, Lauricella said. The league is looking for new members, people who care about politics but are also nonpartisan.

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