April 11-18, 2007
By ANDY HART, The Hartford News Staff Writer
Mayor Eddie Perez officially announced he is seeking re-election Monday night and made the most of the occasion. A standing room only crowd jammed into the Rawson School auditorium for an emotional but well-staged event.
In introducing Perez, former television reporter Lew Brown, now media liaison for the Perez campaign, repeatedly stressed that Perez has been able to represent all of Hartford. “He doesn’t say one thing to the North End, another thing to the South End, another thing to the West End and another thing to the business community,” said Brown.
Perez’s claim to broad-based support was reflected in the composition of the crowd at Monday night’s event. Of Hartford’s nine City Council members, only Green Party member Elizabeth Horton-Sheff did not attend the event. Long-time political activists like Abe Giles, Al Marotta and Edwin Vargas cheered along as Perez and his wife, Maria, danced to the theme song of the event, “Let’s Get It Started.”
Even two top State officials, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Comptroller Nancy Wyman, stood on the stage behind Perez, who has been accused by rivals of having an antagonistic relationship with the State government, particularly Governor Jodi Rell.
In addition to Brown, several city residents spoke in support of Perez. Hilton Hotel employee Juaneeta Bryce said Perez “is a little man with a big heart.” Neighborhood activist Laura Jones called Perez, “the best Mayor in the state of Connecticut and, as far as I’m concerned, in the nation.”
Perez’s own comments echoed the theme of his State of the City Address, which he made before City Council last month, namely that, “Hartford is good. Together we can make Hartford great.”
He discussed improvements in the school system (Perez is also chairman of the Board of Education and the School Construction Committee), an overall reduction in crime and declining unemployment. But he also said, “As long as there is one city resident who fears for his or her safety; as long as there is one city resident who can’t obtain a quality education; as long as there is one city resident who can’t find a solid job; that’s one too many.”
Perez also struck back at his opponents, saying some of them are “working to revive the politics of negativity.”
Although he has been in office for six years, Perez still spoke of his administration as a new style of politics in Hartford. “Are we going to go back to the old way that pitted community against community and put politics over people? Or will we stick together for what has worked for Hartford and who has worked for Hartford?”
Perez is the eighth official candidate in the race. His opponents, so far, are former Deputy Mayor I. Charles Mathews, former State Senator Frank Barrows, State Representatives Minnie Gonzalez and Art Feltman, Cable TV personality Stan McCauley, Reverend Patrice Smith and Raul De Jesus.