Mayoral Candidate Says Perez Has Stopped Listening To Community
January 18, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
State Rep. Art Feltman, who ascended from working as a grass-roots community organizer in Hartford's poorest neighborhoods to representing the city's 6th District in the legislature, officially announced his candidacy for mayor Wednesday.
Speaking in front of a crowd of nearly 200 at Joe Black's Restaurant & Pub on Pratt Street, Feltman touched on a wide range of topics - crime, jobs, housing, education and taxes - saying that the incumbent, Mayor Eddie A. Perez, has not done enough to fix Hartford's problems and has stopped listening to the community.
Feltman is one of three Democrats who are challenging Perez, who has committed to a re-election run. Also aspiring to unseat Perez are former state Sen. Frank D. Barrows and former Deputy Mayor I. Charles Mathews.
Feltman, 48, said that Hartford once was a city known for literary greats such as Mark Twain and technological powerhouses such as Colt's Manufacturing Co., but that it had recently lost its way and needed new leadership. Suggesting that Perez needs "an extra dose of humility," Feltman said it was time for "fresh blood, with a fresh vision for our future."
"Are we satisfied with the way things are?" Feltman asked.
"No!" members of the crowd yelled back.
"Do we want change?" Feltman asked.
"Yes!" the crowd answered.
"To make this happen, we must bring the curtain down on the solo act long playing at 550 Main St.," Feltman said, referring to the street address of city hall.
Political insiders and a number of Perez's critics have said the mayor is seen as vulnerable, a sentiment that has encouraged challengers to run and could spell a heavily contested race in the city's Democratic primary. Perez, they said, will face stiffer competition because of the way he has consolidated and used power under the city's new strong-mayor system. He is seen as having shut himself off from those who disagree with him, they said.
Feltman has lived in Connecticut for more than two decades. He attended Wesleyan University and earned a law degree from the UConn in 1987.
Before entering politics, he worked as a community organizer in the several Hartford neighborhoods - Frog Hollow, Sheldon-Charter Oak, the South End and Blue Hills.
In 1995, Feltman was elected to the Hartford city council and served one term before joining the legislature. He also spent three years as commissioner of the city's redevelopment agency and 11 years on the Democratic town committee.
He has been in the legislature since 1997 and is chairman of the Planning and Development Committee.
As a lawmaker, Feltman said he has focused on property tax relief for Hartford residents and seniors, finding ways to better serve urban school children with special needs, helping children of divorced parents pay for college and developing initiatives to help ex-offenders lead productive lives.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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