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Council May Vote Monday On Filling Vacancies

At Least Four Candidates Will Be Considered For Two Openings

Jenna Carlessp

January 10, 2011

At least four people will be considered Monday to fill two vacancies on the city council.

The council will take up four resolutions, each with a different candidate's name, to fill the vacancies left by the departures of Matthew Ritter, a Democrat, and Veronica Airey-Wilson, a Republican.

Sean P. Arena, chairman of the Hartford Redevelopment Agency, and Robert Painter, a former city council member, are named as candidates for Ritter's seat.

Corey Brinson, a lawyer who is Airey-Wilson's nephew, and Gerald Pleasent, a former Hartford deputy police chief, are listed as candidates to fill Airey-Wilson's seat.

Support for the candidates appeared to be split among council members.

"We're going to act on all of [the resolutions] and I don't think any of them is going to pass," said Councilman Luis Cotto. "None of the candidates has significant support."

Councilman Larry Deutsch, who will introduce the resolution naming Painter as Ritter's replacement, said he chose the former council member because of his experience and as another option. Painter served on the panel previously as a Republican, but has since switched political parties.

"I don't think anybody would say he's not qualified for this," Deutsch said.

Council President rJo Winch said she supports Brinson and Arena. Arena "understands the issues that are facing our residents," she said.

Of Brinson, she added: "I'm always an advocate for young people getting them involved and on board." Brinson is 30.

A fifth resolution, to be introduced by Councilman Kenneth Kennedy, will also address the vacant Democratic seat. Although it does not list a candidate's name, Kennedy said he may propose someone else for the seat during Monday's meeting.

"I'm trying to make sure we have the maximum flexibility," he said. "The council is split over the candidates."

Ritter resigned from the council on Jan. 3 and was sworn in two days later as a state legislator representing the 1st House District, which includes portions of Hartford and Bloomfield. Airey-Wilson retired on Dec. 31, 2010.

Monday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. The council has 60 days to fill each vacancy, according to the city charter.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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