QU Democrats host CT State House candidates

Zack Hochberg, Staff Writer

Associate professor of legal studies at Quinnipiac University Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox and incumbent Rep. Josh Elliott, two Democratic candidates currently running for seats in Connecticut’s State House of Representatives, visited the Quinnipiac Democrats on Oct. 11, to speak about their campaigns.

Gadkar-Wilcox is running to represent Trumbull’s 123rd district for the third time since 2018. She is running against incumbent Republican Rep. David Rutigliano, who has been in office since 2012 and defeated Gadkar-Wilcox in the last two elections.

Both of these candidates are no strangers to Quinnipiac University. As a professor, Gadkar-Wilcox specializes in constitutional, comparative and human rights law. She also directs the Global Engagement Fellows Program and the University’s Mock Trial Program.

Elliott graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ithaca College before obtaining his juris doctorate at Quinnipiac School of Law.

Democratic candidates for Connecticut House of Representatives Professor Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox (123rd district) and incumbent Rep. Josh Elliott (88th district) spoke to students at Quinnipiac University Oct. 11. (Yamini Dalal)

Despite losing in 2018 and 2020, Gadkar-Wilcox is hoping this time will be different. During the event, she stated she believes her district has finally turned Democrat after being Republican for a long time.

“I see myself as the bridging personality that Hartford needs,” Gadkar-Wilcox said.

According to a 2020 report by the Connecticut Voices for Children, the state has the third-highest level of pre-tax income inequality in the nation. Gadkar-Wilcox’s campaign spotlights fixing that problem. She said she wants to increase taxes on people that make more than $5 million per year and make campaign financing public so that politics can become more about the issues at hand and less about the money poured into campaigns.

“There’s just so much bitterness and so much disinformation out there, we could get so much more done if we just worked together,” Gadkar-Wilcox said.

Even though Gadkar-Wilcox is running as a Democrat, she said she believes in a more progressive political system that includes more parties. Gadkar-Wilcox said her message needs to resonate with moderates and even moderate conservatives.

“I think having someone closer to the middle is better than having someone who is just so far left or so far right,” said Noah Brown, a junior engineering major. “We need more people who can speak to both parties in order to remove the toxic environment we’ve seen over the last five years.”

Elliott assumed office in 2017 after winning the election for the 88th District representing Hamden in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Elliott retained his seat, winning re-elections in both 2018 and 2020, and is seeking another re-election this November against Republican candidate Mike Pace.

Like Gadkar-Wilcox, Elliott also believes that income inequality is a significant problem in Connecticut. As a result, he also wants to raise income taxes on wealthier citizens.

Elliott said he believes it’s ‘good’ for the minimum wage to be at $15, but it’s not enough.

“If you didn’t get a raise this year, your wage actually went down around 7% right now, just because of inflation,” Elliott said.

Elliott said he wants to restructure the tax system in the state, mainly because “the state does not tax universities, government buildings, hospitals or non-profits, so places like New Haven don’t make a lot of money on taxes,” Elliott said. “We miss out on around $700M worth of taxes because we don’t tax these entities… Yale is written into the state constitution as an untaxable entity.”

Elliott said he knows that retaining his seat in the house is much easier than getting there in the first place, but that doesn’t mean he’s slacking off on his campaign.

“They already know who you are, so that makes it a bit easier… I’ve spent a lot of time going door-to-door, sometimes a couple of hours a day, and just talking to people in my community,” Elliott said.

While Elliott and Gadkar-Wilcox are in different districts, they both have the same goal: win.

“I believe in the education we get here at Quinnipiac and knowing that there are candidates who got that education or are a part of giving us that education definitely makes me more likely to vote for them in the election,” said Catherine Johnson, a senior psychology major.

The two candidates are hoping to see all of their work come to fruition on election day, which is set for Nov. 8.