By RENA EPSTEIN, Hartford Guardian Writer
There are two men in Hartford on the same quest.
Angel Arce and Kelvin Roldan will go head to head on Tuesday, August 8th, both seeking the Democratic nomination for State Representative from the 4th Assembly District. With no Republican opposition in sight, that’s the race to win.
On the campaign trail, Arce is a tall, dapper figure who speaks plainly and passionately about the poverty and crime that plague his neighborhood streets.
Roldan greets potential voters with a warm smile, then a command of the issues that belie his 27 years.
Both are prominent figures around town. As Mayor Perez’ Special Assistant and Director of Community Initiatives since 2002, Roldan has been a major architect of the mayor’s initiatives to expand and improve health care, home ownership and education. He lays claim to the energy and expertise needed to “continue those agenda items I started in the mayor’s office.” Evelyn Mantilla, who held this seat for five terms and is Roldan’s campaign manager, says it’s a “natural progression, from city to state. He will advocate for funding for city services, with his background in the city arena.”
Roldan’s life story is one of progression. Driven by talent, hard work and mentors along the way, Roldan, raised by a single mother of eight, has journeyed from Stowe Village, to college, to the other side of the world to learn Chinese, and home to Hartford again. He lives on Broad Street, with 20 family members nearby. Mantilla describes him as someone who “grew up in the community succeeded and stayed.” Roldan’s overarching message is, “I’m running to make sure Hartford children and families have the same opportunities I’ve had.”
Angel Arce, a Stowe Village native as well, has been politically active in Hartford for the past twenty years. Currently Director of Community Relations for Spectrum Health Care, he also is a Commissioner of the Hartford Housing Authority (HHA) and Chairman of the HHA Dutch Point Development Project. As a past Director of Youth Services for the HHA, he created programs that involved children with sports, dance and computers, and also provided college scholarship money to 75 kids. Arce says that under his watch, the neighborhood became safer, but when he returned, “It was painful. I saw 12- to 14-year-olds selling drugs. I saw teen pregnancy. This district is a poor, unattended district the ‘forgotten child’every other district is way ahead [in terms of] services. I’m a fighter. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure our district gets back.”
Arce says you’ll find him patrolling the streets each night, protecting the elderly. He pledges to fight for more police protection, elderly services, jobs, better schools and affordable housing. A resident of Norwich Street, he says, “I’m about my community. It’s in my heart. I’ll remain here, win or lose.”