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9 Democrats Make Their Cases To Represent Greater Hartford

Jenna Carlesso

July 14, 2010

Nine Democrats vying for state representative or senator in districts that include a portion of Hartford made a public case Tuesday for why they should win the seats.

Some of them talked about job growth or their ideas for enhancing tourism. Others unveiled their plans for keeping high school and college graduates in the state or helping the city's at-risk youth.

And nearly all of them seized the opportunity to take a shot at their opponent.

"You have to be visible in the community, return phone calls and show you're interested," said Edwin Vargas Jr., who is challenging state Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, for his seat in the upcoming primary. He said some residents had come to regard Fonfara as "an empty suit."

"I see that the passion has been extinguished," he said.

Vargas was responding to a question posed by Dennis House, an anchor for WFSB-TV Channel 3's Eyewitness News who was moderator Tuesday for a primary candidates forum held at the city's public library. House asked challengers why their incumbent opponents "should be fired" by voters.

"My constituents want their phone calls returned," replied rJo Winch, a member of the Hartford city council who is squaring off against state Rep. Douglas McCrory for the 7th House District seat. "I want to work every day for the city of Hartford."

Incumbents, of course, had a chance to fire back, citing reasons they should stay put.

"I am committed to working with [local] officials to protect the quality of services in Hartford," said state Rep. Kelvin Roldan, D-Hartford.

McCrory said his background as an educator makes him an asset to several of the legislature's committees on which he serves. He noted that he helped introduce a 10-point plan to close the achievement gap.

Joining McCrory, Winch, Fonfara, Vargas and Roldan was Angel Morales, who is challenging Roldan for the 4th House District seat; Alyssa Peterson, a challenger to state Rep. Hector Robles for the 6th House District seat; and state Rep. Kenneth Green and his opponent for the 1st House District seat, Matthew Ritter. Robles was unable to attend.

Candidates were given a brief period of time to respond to an array of questions, some of which were prepared by a committee and others that came from the audience.

Vargas suggested stepping up public safety as a way to draw more tourism to Hartford.

"Many people are reluctant to come to the city, especially at night," he said. "There is an issue of whether people feel safe."

Green offered the idea of pairing tourism with job growth. More people could be employed as guides at state attractions, or work to clean up state parks, he said.

Ritter proposed a regional property tax for Hartford and its neighboring towns so they don't have to compete for revenue. He also discussed the possibility of debt forgiveness for college graduates to encourage them to stay and work in Connecticut.

In their closing statements, candidates took a last opportunity to give voters the hard sell.

Peterson noted several harassment-related complaints that civilians made against Robles, a Hartford police officer, over a 10-year span. She said it's time for a change.

"I believe his record needs to come out. I believe I can do an excellent job to represent South Hartford," she said.

Robles, reached by phone Tuesday night, pointed out that all the complaints have been dismissed.

"I've been cleared of all those allegations, which have been open public documents for years," Robles said. "It's not as if I was hiding anything."

The primaries will take place Aug. 10.

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.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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