DANBURY, Conn. — Increased school funding is just one of the issues that Danbury's Emanuela Palmares, Republican candidate for the 110th House District, plans to fight for if she is elected.
Palmares, 33, is challenging 12-term incumbent Democrat Bob Godfrey, who is a deputy speaker of the State House.
The first Brazilian-American to run for state office in Connecticut, Palmares came to the United States when she was 10.
A divorced mother of 4-year-old son Caio, she works two jobs -- as editor-in-chief of Tribuna, a biweekly publication in English, Portuguese and Spanish, and at her father's business, Amazon Concrete, in Brewster, N.Y.
If elected, she said she plans to make sure schools are funded based on need.
"As a mother of a child with special needs, I see how underfunded we are. When Caio was recommended to receive 25 hours of one-on-one therapy a week, we were only able to get him services twice a week," she said.
Another area of concern to Palmares is senior issues. "In the last budget, we had several cuts in social and health services," she said.
Elmwood Hall Senior Center in Danbury previously served free lunch every day, but now no longer provides this on Wednesdays.
"Many of these residents are on a fixed income," she said. "They count on these programs to make their income stretch."
Palmeres also hopes to advocate for small businesses. "Our small businesses are seeing incentives going out to large corporations to stay in Connecticut," she said. "They are having a hard time getting access to the programs created for them to succeed."
She has volunteered since she was 15 for over a dozen causes and organizations. "Every volunteer position I have had has given me the tools to connect with the district and its needs," she said.
"My parents always told us we needed to find the opportunities to give back and show we are contributing members of society," she said.
Palmeres said her opponent has done nothing to address the causes she is fighting for.
"We have a representative who is the deputy speaker of the house who has been in politics for nearly 30 years," she said. "Yet, we have not gained any benefit from that influence and experience."
She also took offense to Godfrey's statement at a recent debate at Broadview Middle School hosted by the Citywide PTO. "Godfrey felt the need to say we need to help our cities by not making them a dumping ground for ethnic minorities and poor people," she said.
With this statement, she said Godfrey insulted everyone in Danbury because "you can trace back most of us to an ethnic minority.
"Most of us started out with little, so when a representative thinks that the way to inspire economic development in our city is to trash us and call us a dump, that shows a lack of vision," Palmeres said. "These poor people that he is referring to are our workforce."
She said she is proud of all the people in Danbury's community. "I want to help make it better, but I don't look at us as a dump," she said.
"I've seen on a firsthand basis how the decisions in Hartford are impacting us in our daily lives, and when I knock on doors, I see that I'm not alone," she said.
Over the next five to 10 years, Palmeres said she envisions Danbury "with a downtown as vibrant as that of New Haven, our schools properly funded, our medium and small businesses thriving and our diversity continuing to be our biggest asset."
Godfrey could not be reached by the Daily Voice for comment.