Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski spoke with the Y's Men of Westport/Weston on Monday at the library. / Photo by Thane Grauel.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski, left, spoke with the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston on Thursday at the library. He was interviewed at the event by former First Selectman Jim Marpe. / Photo by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski appeared at the Westport Library on Thursday morning, speaking to the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston, and answering questions from a moderator, former First Selectman James Marpe.

The Y’s Men and the library cosponsored the event. At 1 p.m. Monday, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont will speak at the library. Register here to attend the Lamont forum Monday. Sign up here to watch the live stream of the program.

Stefanowski, who lost to Lamont four years ago, said he wanted to correct misconceptions people might have from attack ads running in this year’s campaign. He talked about his childhood, growing up in New Haven, then North Haven. He had three sisters, and both of his parents worked for Southern New England Telephone.

He said his bedroom was a walk-in closet.

“I get some grief, ‘Geez, you put ten million into your campaign, you’re a rich white guy, you have no idea what’s going on’ — I know what’s going on,” he said. “I’ve lived it.”

The 59-year-old businessman, a Madison resident, in his second bid for the state’s chief executive post has pledged $10 million of his own money trying to unseat Lamont. He won the near-unanimous endorsement from Republicans in May to run again as their standard-bearer.

Stefanowski mentioned legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would outlaw abortions nationwide after 15 weeks.

He said he and his running mate, state Rep. Laura Devlin of Fairfield, would not change Connecticut’s laws on abortion.

“Despite my personal opinions, Roe v. Wade is codified in Connecticut state law,” he said. “Laura and I are not going to change that.”

“Second Amendment,” he said. “Connecticut has the toughest gun laws in the nation. You’re going to see attack ads for the next 57 days trying to scare people on both of those issues.”

“You know why? Because Gov. Lamont doesn’t want to talk about the economy,” he said. “Because our economy is horrible.”

He talked about reducing state government spending, and said the estate tax had to go.

“It’s not fair,” he said. “Because you’re taxed on that money once, why should you be taxed on it again when you try to give it to your family?”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski spoke with the Y's Men of Westport/Weston on Monday at the library. / Photo by Thane Grauel.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski spoke with the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston on Monday at the library. / Photo by Thane Grauel

Addressing traffic issues, Stefanowski said it’s important to get as many people off the roads as possible, and onto alternatives such as trains.

“Metro-North is the classic definition of a monopoly,” Stefanowski said. “The price keeps going up but the service goes down.”

He suggested public-private partnerships for transportation. “We need to start thinking about this stuff creatively,” he said.

Marpe asked Stefanowski if he thought the 2020 presidential election was stolen, as is claimed by Donald Trump and many of his supporters, and if he has concerns about this year’s election process in Connecticut.

“I get the Trump question a lot,” Stefanowski said.

He said he agrees with some of Trump’s policies, “lower taxes, putting America first, actually getting reimbursed from wealthy countries that we’ve been doing stuff for free for.”

“The election,” Stefanowski said. “Joe Biden won. It’s time to move on.”

“What happened on [Jan. 6, 2021] was horrible, I wrote it that day, this was a sad day, it was looking like a third world country,” he said of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that day. “And if President Trump had anything to do with it, he should be held accountable.”

“Go through the process, find out whether he was,” Stefanowski said. “That’s it.”

 Stefanowski recently announced his idea for a “parental bill of rights.”

“What problem is that trying to solve?” Marpe asked.

“To me, this is common-sense stuff,” Stefanowski said.

He said he’s been labeled an extremist because he doesn’t think girls should have to compete against transgender athletes born as males.

“We should be supportive of kids going through that, I think we should be tolerant of it, I think all kids should understand it’s a person’s right to make that choice,” Stefanowski said. “But I don’t think that when you’re playing girls ice hockey, that a biological male should be checking my daughter into the boards.”

“I don’t think sex education should be taught to kindergartners that can barely tie their shoes,” he said.

He got some applause for that statement, though the crowd had been asked to hold all applause until the end.

He said whether children wear masks or not should be up the parents.

“We’ve got to get schools back to teaching reading, writing and arithmetic,” he said. “Getting these kids prepared for life.”

“So, we’re going to let parents raise their kids,” he said.

Marpe asked about the state’s 8-30g affordable housing legislation.

Stefanowski said affordable housing is important, and must be supported.

“But when you’ve got a bill that’s been around for 40 years and affordable housing is worse, and you’ve got skyscrapers going up right next to an asset that for most people is the most valuable asset they own, and the local town has no say in it because the developer’s have the right of first refusal, that’s wrong.”

Thane Grauel, executive editor, grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond more than three decades. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.