By John Murray

   Democrat candidates for the 5th Congressional seat squared off last night in a debate at Chase Collegiate School in Waterbury, CT. The debate was sponsored by Connecticut Young Democrats, and lasted 90 minutes. The candidates from left to right are Chris Donovan, Elizabeth Esty, and Dan Roberti. Looming above the candidates was a quote from King James Bible. The full quote is “finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Elizabeth Esty of Cheshire brought the experienced voice of a lawyer, community activist and mother to the debate. According to her website, “Esty has earned a reputation as a tireless, progressive advocate for the middle class.  Esty lives in Cheshire with her husband of 26 years, Dan Esty.  They have three children, Sarah, Thomas, and Jonathan, who are all products of Connecticut’s public schools. Esty grew up in a close-knit middle class family herself, the third of four children.  With the help of scholarships, she was able to go to college and earn a law degree. As an attorney and educator, she has focused on issues critical to the well-being of Connecticut’s families: health care, Social Security, and Medicare policy.

The wide sweeping debate kept the crowd engaged and included questions about Afghanistan, marijuna legalization, super PACS, space exploration and energy.

Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, of Meriden, made powerful and animated gestures that drew loud applause from the crowd, many who were open supporters of Donovan’s candidacy. According to his website, “Donovan has been Speaker of the House since 2009,  and has represented Meriden as a Democrat in the State House of Representatives for 19 years. In addition to his legislative work, Donovan is a faculty member in the political science and sociology departments at the University of Hartford. Donovan is a member of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work Advisory Committee and the Collegiate Education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons Advisory Board. He has also worked with the Connecticut Family Leave Task Force.”

Dan Roberti gave thoughtful answers that were often puncuated with a wry smile at the end. Roberti has run a homeless shelter in Spokane, Washington, attended school in New Orleans, and assisted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Roberti was endorsed last week by former congressman Patrick Kennedy and lives in Kent.

More than a 100 people atteneded the debate sponsored by Connecticut Young Democrats.