Editor\u2019s note: A story on Democrat Jim Himes and his campaign will appear Friday on this website. With mere days left before his Election Day rematch with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, Republican Dan Debicella of Shelton told the Shelton Herald that there are major differences between the two of them that show he\u2019s the right candidate. Debicella, a former state senator, is facing off with Himes for the second time in four years. In 2010, Debicella fell short. But now in 2014, as Himes seeks his fourth term in Congress, Debicella said the contrasts between them are why he is the better candidate to help make improvements on vital Connecticut issues such as transportation and the economy as well as on national issues like healthcare and the international fight against ISIS and other terrorist organizations. \u201cJim and I have a very different take on what\u2019s going on right now,\u201d Debicella said last week in an interview with Hersam Acorn editors. \u201cIf you listen to Jim talk, he says things are going well. He talks about how the economy is doing well, and how we can do better but it is doing well. 'People out there are hurting' \u201cHe talks about how we\u2019re making progress in transportation and healthcare, and I just fundamentally disagree,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cI\u2019m surprised that he does think things are going so well because as I am talking to people and knocking on doors, people out there are hurting. People are talking about the economy and how their brother-in-law lost his job and has been out of work for nine months and how they feel insecure even though they\u2019re living on two incomes, because if one of them loses their job they\u2019re in big trouble,\u201d he said. \u201cOn healthcare, there\u2019s just been another round of cancellations from Aetna because of Obamacare,\u201d Debicella said. Himes and Debicella are running in the 4th Congressional District, which covers much of Fairfield County. The district includes most of Shelton. Top issues in the race In his discussions with voters across the 4th District, Debicella said, he hasn\u2019t been surprised to hear that the economy, transportation and healthcare are the issues that are on their minds. For Debicella, transportation and the growing frustration both with traffic congestion on the highways and the problems on the Metro-North have been dominant issues throughout the campaign. \u201cIt\u2019s not surprising to me that those are the top three issues, but what is surprising to me is that Jim thinks things are going so well,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cI see it so differently. You\u2019ve heard me say often that if you think things are going well, then vote for Jim Himes and you\u2019ll get more of the same. But if you think there are better ideas, then I think I have them.\u201d If elected, Debicella said, he would look to be on both the Transportation and Financial Services committees in Congress. He has spoken out about the need to add extra entrance and exit ramps on Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway to ease the chokepoints that are consistently there, creating commuter headaches on a daily basis, as well as get more money for Metro-North to work on maintenance of the tracks and its infrastructure to improve performance, something he says will be a priority for him on the Transportation Committee. Himes had been on the Financial Services Committee, and Debicella said that given the nature of the district and how important the financial services industry is to it, it made sense for him to serve there, too, if elected. Both Himes and Debicella have worked in the financial services industry. Political moderates? As part of his campaign, Debicella has looked to portray Himes as a far more liberal Democrat than Himes claims. Debicella has said he is the true moderate in the race. Debicella said, if elected, he would be far more like former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, who was seen by many as an independent voice in the Republican Party, and he accused Himes of following along with Democratic Party leadership in refusing to vote on bills to fix the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. \u201cJim Himes is very articulate and he talks a good moderate game,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cBut I say the same thing for me and the same thing for him. Don\u2019t listen to what we say \u2014 watch what we do. Jim Himes votes 95% of the time with his party. Chris Shays, who was a true moderate, voted 70% of the time with his party. \u201cIf I go down there, you\u2019re actually going to see me voting pretty close to 80%-90% of the time on economic issues with Republicans and about 20% of the time on the social issues,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cWhen you say you\u2019re independent and you\u2019re moderate, you have to look at what the actual voting record is.\u201d Party\u2019s conservative wing But if Debicella is elected to Congress as a moderate Republican, he will face challenges, not only from Democrats but also from his fellow Republicans. Congress faces record-low approval ratings, and with the last two Republican-led U.S. House terms statistically shown to be the least productive in American history, much blame has gone toward Tea Party-backed Republican members of Congress for \u2014 according to critics \u2014 refusing compromise on issues. Debicella acknowledges that will be an issue since he differs from them on many viewpoints, especially on social issues where he is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and for comprehensive immigration reform, but said the time is now to start reform and bring Republicans back more toward the party they were under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. \u201cChange happens one person at a time,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cYou need someone who is going to be in the caucus rooms saying, \u2018You know, let\u2019s not vote to repeal Obamacare for the 40th time. Let\u2019s actually propose our own solutions. \u2026 If we don\u2019t start electing moderate Republicans to Congress again, we\u2019re going to get more and more of the extremism we see in both parties.\u201d \u2018Changing the conversation\u2019 Debicella added that he knew that this would be a lot of work, as he would only be a freshman congressman if elected. He is pledging to serve only a maximum of six terms \u2014 if the voters support him enough to send him to Washington that many times, of course \u2014 giving him 12 years to work on reforms that he says can happen from inside the party. He said what the party needs is someone speaking out against ideas like shutting down the government, which congressional Republicans forced last year, and getting Republicans to work toward common-sense, conservative solutions to benefit the country. \u201cI\u2019m not under any illusion that anybody is going to go to Washington and change the world overnight, but you have to start changing the conversation,\u201d Debicella said. He followed up on this later in the interview when he said, \u201cIf we don\u2019t fix this now, I worry that the country is reaching a point where if we don\u2019t renew ourselves and we don\u2019t get back to the days where Republicans and Democrats can actually talk together that some of these fundamental problems are going to blow up in our face, whether it\u2019s the deficit or it is the economy. We can\u2019t accept what we have now as the new normal.\u201d Promoting compromise Looking at the next two years, Debicella said if he is elected to join the Republican majority in the House, there is room to make a deal on tax reform similar to what he has been pushing, which takes what he says are the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats by eliminating special interest loopholes and lowering the marginal tax rate on small businesses and individuals. Debicella said this would be the first legislation he would propose if he were sent to Congress. He also expressed optimism that bipartisan immigration reform can pass the House, as it already has in the Senate with Republican ideas like securing the border and Democratic ideas like making legal immigration easier to make the country more welcoming. On the other hand, he says Republicans need to move away from the ceremonial votes to repeal Obamacare, and instead move toward a plan, such as what he proposes, which he says keeps aspects that work like letting youths stay on their parents\u2019 insurance plans until they\u2019re age 26 and not denying people coverage for pre-existing conditions, while attempting to lower costs through interstate competition for insurance, preventative medicine and tort reform. Fight against ISIS Debicella has been vocal in recent debates and forums about foreign policy as well. He said he supports President Barack Obama\u2019s efforts to fight ISIS terrorists and rejects both the idea of isolationism and the aggressiveness that led to the President George W. Bush invasion of Iraq. He said he wants to go back to the Ronald Reagan-George H.W. Bush days of \u201cLet\u2019s have a strong military and use it rarely\u201d while working with broad, international coalitions instead of going it alone to \u201cstand up for American values.\u201d To fight ISIS, Debicella said, he supports air strikes and arming those considered to be \u201cmoderate Syrian rebels,\u201d something Himes voted against as he cited concern that arming them would further destabilize the region and possibly lead to a repeat of what happened in Afghanistan, where the people America armed to fight the Soviets in the 1980s ended up being the root of al Qaeda. Debicella said that is a mistake by Himes, and that he would increase air support and additionally arm the Kurds in Iraq, but he did not want to see ground forces from the United States used in the fight and that if the country \u201cdid it the right way\u201d in this situation, ground forces would not be necessary. \u2018Radical terrorism is a threat\u2019 \u201cJim Himes recently said on the Mike Huckabee Show that ISIS was not a threat and I fundamentally disagree with that approach,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cHe said it\u2019s not like the Nazis or the Soviet Union, but I actually think radical terrorism is a threat to the United States, much like Communism and Nazism was in previous generations, and the United States has to stand up to these people now.\u201d Debicella said the United States also must engage with moderate Muslim leaders and countries through economic support and good diplomatic relations to help them transition into capitalistic democracies. \u201cIf we start burying our head in the sand and saying, \u2018Not our problem. We\u2019re not going to help you fight ISIS. Good luck, guys,\u2019 then that\u2019s a recipe for disaster in the Middle East,\u201d Debicella said. Ken Borsuk is editor of the Greenwich Post, another Hersam Acorn publication.