DANBURY, Conn. -- Bob Godfrey, a Democrat running for his 14th term representing part of Danbury in the state House, said that he has never before faced what he called a smear campaign via social media by an opposing candidate.
In the race for the 110th House District, Godfrey is facing a challenge from Republican Emanuela Palmares, 33, the first Brazilian-American to run for state office in Connecticut.
“I’ve never had this kind of negative campaign against me,” Godfrey said in a phone interview Thursday. “It is outright deception.”
One of the accusations made against Godfrey pertains to a video taken at a recent debate at Broadview Middle School hosted by the Citywide PTO and being circulated on social media.
In the video, Godfrey said he is accused of calling cities dumping grounds for the poor people and ethnic minorities.
But Godfrey said this was not, in fact, what he said. “I was making a statement about stopping some of the consequences of racism and they edited it to take the ‘stop’ part out.
“I’ve been fighting racism since it was called to my attention in the 1960s,” Godfrey said. “To be called a racist really angers me.”
If re-elected, Godfrey said he would fight to invest more in cities and in the people who live in the cities. “Revitalizing cities is a big way to turn the business climate around in Connecticut,” he said.
His opponent is also making wrongful attacks on him in the issue of public education, Godfrey said.
“She complained I don’t bring back enough money for education for public schools," he said. "This is not true. Every year, I bring back more -- I’ve brought over $30 million for this year."
Godfrey, who was born in 1948 in Danbury and is a lifelong resident, credits his mother Rita for his love of service to his community.
“My mom was a big volunteer, and I learned from her example,” he said. “While working as a registered nurse, she volunteered in both school and church activities.”
Rita Godrey, who is 89, lives with her son and is still “sharp as a tack," he said.
“My mother has been a great role model for me. It was her example for getting involved outside of her home that prompted me to begin volunteering at a very young age -- civically, organizationally and eventually running for election.”
He is most proud of volunteering with the AIDS Project of Greater Danbury, where he is on the Board of Directors.
“They treat and care for a group of people who have been too often stigmatized by society," Godfrey said.
"This organization goes hand-in-glove with what my mother taught me in regard to caring for other people,” said Godfrey, an attorney who is a full-time legislator.
He is especially pleased by all the projects in Danbury for which he played a part in establishing over the years. This includes the new location of Naugatuck Valley Community College in downtown and the construction underway for the new Freshman Academy at Danbury High School, which is expected to be completed next year.
He credits his his strong connection to the residents of Danbury for his many re-election victories.
“My roots are here in Danbury. I go out of my way to stay in touch with my constituents," he said. “With everything from an coordinating an annual mail survey to talking with people while I’m grocery shopping at Stop & Shop, I get to know the people in my community and their concerns.
“Danbury is a place I love. It’s home in every sense of the word.”