By: Rob Sullivan, Staff Writer


In the inaugural event at Housatonic Community College's newly dedicated Beacon Hall, Chris Shays and Jim Himes exchanged their ideas on health care and a smattering of other issues in a spirited debate Tuesday morning in Bridgeport.

Shays, a Bridgeport Republican who has served as congressman from the Fourth District for 21 years, and Himes, a Greenwich Democrat who is challenging Shays in the Nov. 4 election, squared off in a forum on health care sponsored by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.

Anita T. Gliniecki, President of Housatonic Community College, noted that health care was an appropriate issue for the two candidates to kick off their series of debates.
The Fourth District covers most of Fairfield County, Including Westport, Fairfield, Fairfield and Easton.

"Health care is important to each and every one of us," Gliniecki said. "Everyone who votes needs to understand the candidates' position on these issues by being fully informed as opposed to listening to sound bites."

Health care was the primary topic of Tuesday's forum, but other subjects were broached as well. In their opening statements, both candidates staked their positions and set the tenor of the debate.

"I'm standing up here because our nation is in crisis," said Himes. "This is not bad luck. Where we are today is the result of bad policies and bad decisions made by the Bush-Cheney administration and supported in many cases by Christopher Shays."

"Jim, as an ardent Democrat you should be supporting me as an endangered species," joked Shays, who is the lone Republican Congressman from New England. "I'm a hopeful spirit and I act independently."