August 8, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
Elizabeth Horton Sheff, one of the longest sitting members of the Hartford city council, has decided not to run for re-election in 2007.
Horton Sheff said she grew frustrated with her council colleagues. She said they too often failed to scrutinize what Mayor Eddie A. Perez sent to them for approval.
"Going back with that same bunch of people and the same mayor and fighting with them for the next four years is not an interest of mine," Horton Sheff said Tuesday. "I think that Hartford needs a serious change, from the mayor's office all the way down through council."
During 12 years on the council in two stints, Horton Sheff developed a reputation as vocal and independent.
"I tried to get the council to better examine the kinds of things that Eddie put before us, but they just passed stuff," she added. "Some of it I may have agreed with, lots of it I didn't. But I was trying to get across to my council colleagues that we needed to look at this stuff, and really do our due diligence, and not just approve everything."
The mayor's proposals would often come at the last minute or without backup documentation, and the council majority would act without discussion, she said. And any proposals from Horton Sheff that would require more frequent reporting and transparency from Perez's office - such as quarterly budget hearings instead of only one hearing a year - were blocked by council members who supported the mayor, she said.
City Council President John Bazzano took exception to Horton Sheff's characterization of the council.
"There are a lot of good people on that council who really care about the city and do their homework," Bazzano said. "The decisions they make are not made in a vacuum. They do scrutinize, they do study, they do look into the issues. They make decisions they think will benefit the people of Hartford."
Horton Sheff served on the council from 1991 to 1995 and again from 1999 to the present.
Horton Sheff said she has focused on four main issues - programs to help grandparents raise grandchildren, the capping and closing of the landfill in Hartford, fixing problems with the Civilian Police Review Board, and education.
Horton Sheff is perhaps most widely known as the lead plaintiff in the landmark Sheff v. O'Neill school desegregation case. Horton Sheff once was a member of the Green Party - the party's first African American woman nationally to win a municipal post - but she is no longer affiliated with a political party.
Horton Sheff is the third city council incumbent to decide not to seek re-election. Both Bazzano, a Democrat, and Robert Painter, a Republican, have said they will not seek another term.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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