July 3-11, 2007
By ANDY HART, The Hartford News Staff Writer
With Hartford’s race for Mayor in a bit of lull, the battle for City Council is starting to take shape. Several new faces are seeking election to council and at least one, Eric Crawford, is hoping to run with a full slate of candidates.
As of Monday afternoon, City Clerk Dan Carey said 11 people have officially registered as candidates for City Council, including four incumbents: Democrats James Boucher, rJo Winch, Pedro Segarra and Republican Veronica Airey-Wilson. Of the remaining five incumbents, Republican Robert Painter has officially announced he is not seeking re-election, Democrat Calixto Torres said he is running and will officially announce his candidacy in the near future and Green Party member Elizabeth Horton-Sheff said she is still undecided. Councilmen Ken Kennedy and John Bazzano could not be reached for comment.
In addition to Crawford, the other official candidates include Democrats Craig Stallings of Clark Street, Lillian Arciniegas of Yale Street, Gerald Pleasant of Essex Street, Matthew Ritter of Goodwin Circle and Maria Diaz of Campfield Avenue. Attorney Thom Page of Kenyon Street has also publicly announced he is running for Council.
Crawford, an intervention specialist at CREC and Connecticut’s reigning “Black Governor,” said he is right now in the process of forming a “Reform Slate.” He said three other people have agreed to run with him, although he declined to give their names at this time, and he hopes to bring two other candidates on board in time for the Democratic Convention on July 19.
Crawford said he decided to run because, “people in city government aren’t thinking out of the box. People just say ‘that’s the way Hartford is’ but it doesn’t have to be that way...I’m not saying I can wave a magic wand and solve everything. But I can bring new ideas to the table.”
Ritter announced his candidacy last Thursday at his alma mater, Noah Webster School in the West End. Although only 27 and a newcomer to Hartford politics, he received endorsements from such top leaders as State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, State Comptroller Nancy Wyman, State Senators John Fonfara and Eric Coleman and Mayor Eddie Perez. The presence of that political muscle was almost certainly due to Ritter’s family connections as both his father, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter, and his grandfather, George Ritter, were both powerful politicians in their day.
Ritter is positioning himself as a voice for Hartford’s young professionals. He has worked in the City of Hartford’s Corporation Council’s office for the past three years. He is calling for universal preschool for all Hartford children, property tax reform and improved public services.
Attorney Thom Page lives on Kenyon Street, has his offices in Downtown Hartford and is a member of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee. He said property tax reform is “the major issue facing us and we have to get a handle on it.” He also said that, “the level of analysis and reasoning on Council have not been adequate to dealing with the issues that are facing us.”
Hartford’s Republican Party is also hoping to run a full slate of six candidates this November, according to a member of the Town Committee. According to the City Charter, three of the nine council seats must be filled by minority party members. These seats are currently occupied by Painter, who is retiring, Airey Wilson, who is running, and Horton Sheff, who has yet to decide if she will seek re-election.