May 15, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
Although not billed as a true debate, Hartford's mayoral hopefuls are expected to attend a public candidates forum tonight at which they will answer questions from a moderator and the audience.
The forum will be the first time the crowded field of entrants in the 2007 election will appear in the same room to speak about issues facing the city. It will be held at the Hartford Public Library from 6 to 7:30 p.m. All of the declared candidates have been invited.
Political insiders say the mayoral race appears to be have the makings of a hard-fought political battle, with Mayor Eddie A. Perez, a Democrat, facing the toughest crowd of challengers since he was first elected in 2001.
Many of Perez's critics contend he is vulnerable because of what they say is a heavy-handed style of leadership under the city's new strong-mayor form of government. Perez has alienated many of the city's voters, they say.
In announcing his candidacy, Perez said he would let his record - including many new schools and lower crime - stand for itself.
The mayor faces a field of challengers in the Democratic primary: former state Sen. Frank D. Barrows, state Rep. Art Feltman, state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, former Deputy Mayor I. Charles Mathews, political newcomer Raul De Jesus and youth advocate the Rev. Patrice Smith.
Also invited to the forum was Republican candidate J. Stan McCauley.
The forum will be moderated by Tom Condon, editor of "Place" in The Hartford Courant's Sunday Commentary section.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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