Arce and Roldan Battle in 4th District; Charges of Campaign Violations Throw 3rd District Race into Chaos
August 2-9, 2006
By ANDY HART, The Hartford News Staff Writer
On the surface, Angel Arce and Kelvin Roldan have a lot in common.
Both were born in Puerto Rico, moved to Hartford at a relatively young age and grew up in Stowe Village. They both became involved in politics and were elected to serve on 4th District Town Committee.
Now Arce and Roldan have one more thing in common, they are campaigning to be the next State Representative from the 4th District.
Arce officially announced his campaign for the seat in May of this year, although he said he first began thinking about running two years ago.
When Arce announced his candidacy, his opponent was incumbent 4th District State Representative Evelyn Mantilla, who has held the seat for 10 years.
Less than a week later, Mantilla issued a statement saying she was not running for re-election and Roldan announced he was seeking to replace Mantilla. In the same statement in which she announced she would be stepping down from her post, Mantilla voiced her support for Roldan and is now serving as his campaign manager.
While Roldan and Arce have much in common, they are far from clones of each other.
Roldan graduated from Middlebury College in 2001 and was hired to work on Eddie Perez’s first campaign for Mayor just a few week’s later. After Perez’s victory, he hired Roldan as his Executive Assistant. Roldan has been with the mayor ever since and now serves as special assistant to the mayor and Director of Community Initiatives.
While Roldan is closely associated with Mayor Perez, Arce has been very involved with the Hartford Housing Authority (HHA). For several years he was Assistant Director of Youth Programs at the HHA. He has also served as Chairman of the HHA’s Board of Directors and is now Chairman of the Dutch Point Redevelopment project.
Both Roldan and Arce said affordable housing is one of the major issues in the 4th District.
Arce pointed out that Connecticut doesn’t have any type of rent control law and, “You could be paying a normal amount of rent and then the building is bought by some out of state landlord who raises the rent two or three hundred dollars and you have to pay the increase or move...Something has to be done about that.”
Both Arce and Roldan said they are particularly concerned with the needs of the elderly and young people of the 4th District.
Roldan said, “This district has a significant population of elderly people whose medical needs are not being adequately addressed, both in terms of physical care and prescription coverage. We have to work on that.”
Arce said, “There are areas in the district where crime is high and the elderly people don’t feel safe... Sometimes I’m checking up on M.D. Fox Manor [an elderly housing residence at the corner of Washington Street and New Britain Avenue] as late as one o’clock in the morning to make sure things are okay around there...We have to respect our elderly people. They have paid their dues. They are the ones who opened the doors for us.”
Both candidates also said the district needs more employment and activity programs for young people.
“The kids here need the right kind of developmental support in terms of summer jobs, recreational opportunities and year-round employment...if we give a little guidance and support early on, we’ll spend much less on jails later on,” said Roldan.
Arce said a decrease in funding for several local organizations serving youths and others, such as the Aetna Center for Families and Guakia, was one of the main reason he decided to run for State Representative. Arce also said that something has to be done to assist the many single parents, mainly mothers, in the district.
“There’s no way many of these single mothers can pay for childcare while they’re away at the job and still have enough left over to support their families. The jobs don’t pay enough.” Arce said some type of subsidy program for businesses who provide childcare should be implemented or a government-supported childcare center.
The 4th District encompasses portions of the Frog Hollow, South Green, Sheldon-Charter Oak, Barry Square and South End neighborhoods as well as the South Meadows industrial area.
Arce lives on Norwich Street; Roldan lives on Broad Street.
Just about the only thing hotter than the weather in Hartford this week is the primary battle in the 3rd District, where State Representative Minnie Gonzalez is being challenged by Frank DeJesus.
The already bitter campaign took a dramatic turn last Friday, July 28, when DeJesus was arrested and charged with 12 criminal violations relating to the petitions he had collected to place him on the ballot in next Tuesday’s primary. Civil charges on the same violations were also filed by Gonzalez, reportedly in an effort to have DeJesus removed from the ballot.
On Monday, however, DeJesus learned that the civil charges against him had all been dropped, said Lilly Ruiz, who is working on the DeJesus campaign and is also Director of the City of Hartford Office of Human Relations.
Ruiz said as she understands it, the criminal charges are still pending. DeJesus is scheduled to appear in court next Monday, August 7, the day before the primary.
Ruiz said the DeJesus campaign is still going strong. “We’re getting a lot of support out there...so far, so good,” said Ruiz.
DeJesus declined to comment on the controversy, saying his lawyer had advised him not to speak to the press while the case is still open.
Gonzalez could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
The specific charges lodged against DeJesus on Friday were six counts of second degree forgery, five counts of second degree false statement and one count of falsely administering an oath.
As challenger, DeJesus needed signatures from five percent of the voters in the 3rd District.
Gonzalez is seeking her sixth consecutive term as 3rd District State Representative. A native of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, she has lived in Hartford for over 25 years. Gonzalez has served as City of Hartford Assistant Registrar of Voters and as a Special Deputy for West Hartford Superior Court.
DeJesus was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico and came to Hartford at the age of 17. He worked for the State of Connecticut Department of Housing and Economic and Community Development. He has also served as President of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Parade.