February 22, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, an ardent political foe of Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez, has officially joined a growing field of challengers in the upcoming mayoral election.
Gonzalez, who has a steadfast group of supporters in the city's Puerto Rican community, filed registration papers at city hall Tuesday to become a candidate in the 2007 election.
Gonzalez has represented Hartford's 3rd House District since 1996. She declined to comment on her mayoral candidacy Wednesday, opting to wait until her official announcement, which is planned for sometime in March, she said.
By registering, Gonzalez became the fourth Democrat committed to challenging Perez. Also running are former state Sen. Frank D. Barrows, state Rep. Art Feltman and former Deputy Mayor I. Charles Mathews.
Those who know Hartford politics say Perez is increasingly perceived as vulnerable and will face heavy competition as he fights for his party's endorsement and to win the Democratic primary.
The mayor's critics say Perez is seen as politically exposed because of how he has consolidated and used power under the city's new strong-mayor system. Perez, they said, is seen as having shut himself off from those who disagree with him.
Gonzalez, 56, has repeatedly - and publicly - clashed with Perez, most recently during her House re-election campaign against Frank DeJesus, a candidate Perez backed heavily.
After her victory, Gonzalez said her campaign was truly fought against Perez, who Gonzalez claimed wanted to punish her for rumors that she would soon run against him for mayor.
"I was not running against Frank DeJesus," she said to a crowd at her victory party. "I was running against the mayor. One more time, we tell the mayor, `We need a mayor, not a dictator.' He doesn't decide things in our community."
Her comments set off shouts of "mayor" in Spanish: "Alcalde, alcalde, alcalde."
Before that, Gonzalez and Perez slugged it out over the Democratic town committee's 54 delegates at their party's state convention in 2006. While Gonzalez backed New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and wanted to throw some of the delegation's votes his way, Perez backed Dannel P. Malloy, Stamford's mayor, and shut out Gonzalez and her supporters to ensure support for him.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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