This November, for the first time in over 15 years, Hartford voters will not find the familiar name of Elizabeth Horton Sheff on the ballot. After serving five terms on City Council, Horton Sheff has officially announced she will not be seeking re-election.
Horton Sheff said her decision was not an easy one. “A lot of people want me to run again because they are worried that without me on [City] Council, there will be no one willing to challenge the power brokers in city hall,” she stated.
In the end, she said her decision to step down was based on both personal and political reasons. “I could probably just say that I want to spend more time with my family and more time working on my book, and all that would be true. But, equally important to me was the fact that I’ve spent the last four years trying to get people [City Council members] to do their jobs and, honestly, I do not wish to engage in such an exercise for another four years.”
Horton Sheff also said that she has become increasingly frustrated by the difficulty she has experienced in trying to obtain information from City officials. “Everyone is so secretive, everything has to go through the office of the Mayor...I literally have to hound people for simple information.” she stated. Horton Sheff added that she’s, “sick and tired of reading about city business in the paper – council members are the last ones to know.”
Horton Sheff said her efforts to reassert the Council’s authority in the new strong mayor form of government that went into effect in 2003 came to a head about a year ago when she proposed a resolution requiring Council to hold quarterly hearings with officials from the City’s Management, Budget and Finance Departments. The resolution was changed to require written reports rather than public hearings, she said, which completely diluted her original intention.
Despite the frustrations, Horton Sheff said she has been able to make significant progress on the issues which she campaigned for in the 2003 election, including assistance for grandparents raising grandchildren, improving education for city youngsters, addressing the closure of the North Meadows Landfill, preserving the Civilian Police Review Board, developing the Human Capital Development Agenda – Access to Food, and running her “Keep Them Reading” literacy campaign, which has donated thousands of books to Hartford youngsters and adults over the years.
Horton Sheff said she will continue to work on these initiatives after her term on Council runs out. “I’ve been an activist for all of my adult life because I care for Hartford and the people of Hartford. I don’t rest my commitment on whether or not I hold a title.”