Candidates Debate In Effort To Win Seat To Represent Danbury's Urban Center


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Emanuela Leaf
Candidates Emanuela Leaf (R)

The campaign to represent the city’s urban heart in the statehouse is a battle of contrasts between a Republican newcomer who emigrated from Brazil and a veteran Democrat who has been in office almost as long as his opponent has been alive.

 And while the contrasting approaches of 14-term Democrat Bob Godfrey and 33-year-old
Bob godfrey
Rep. Bob Godfrey (D) Photo credit:

newspaper editor Emanuela Palmares chiefly concern the 25,000 residents of the 110th General Assembly District, the impact could be felt beyond the boundaries of the district.

The state budget- which affects everything locally in Danbury from social service programs to school aid – is already running a $1.5 billion deficit.

That raises the stakes for the city’s 110th District, where Godfrey is focused solely on motivating registered voters while Palmares is knocking on every door, regardless of registration status.

The stakes are high not only because the 110th is home to the city’s poorest neighborhoods and schools, but also because with its diversity of ethnicities, the downtown district is also an epicenter of the American immigrant experience.
“In this little area called the 110th you have the birthplace of every immigrant community that came to Danbury hungry for something that this country could offer that no one else could where they came from,” says Palmares, who was raised near Main Street. “There is that love and care and promise here, and we hold onto it.”
The irony is in a presidential election year that has motivated scores of Danbury Latinos to apply for citizenship so they can vote, the candidates for the 110th District have not encountered much discussion about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton when talking with voters about what matters most.
“When I am asking voters what is on their mind, and I am listening to them, we are talking about solutions – practical ones – to issues that are facing us all, such as transportation,” said Godfrey, the deputy speaker of the statehouse.
No debates are planned for the fall, but the candidates said their differing positions about the state budget crisis and getting Danbury its fair share of education aid will help provide the contrast voters need to make a choice in November.
“I am not fond of the direction Gov. Malloy has taken with some of these budget cuts to health care, and I have been fighting him tooth and nail,” said Godfrey, speaking of the battle over the 2015-16 state budget earlier this year. “Just playing defense on some of these issues has consumed a lot of our time.”
Palmares said the duty of a state representative is to work not only in Hartford, but also in the home district.
“We have a lot of new citizens in the 110th who have not been part of the political process and who are unaware of the decisions that are being made in Hartford,” Palmares said. “You are only as good of a representative as your relationship to your community.”
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