HARTFORD —— With less than a week left before the Sept. 13 primary, mayoral candidate Edwin Vargas has accused Mayor Pedro Segarra of exhibiting a "pattern" of unethical behavior, citing three examples over an 18-year period.
Segarra's campaign dismissed the accusations, saying they lack credibility.
Vargas said the mayor purchased "construction work at a large discount rate" for a wrought iron fence at his property and violated ordinances.
He also charged that Segarra violated election rules by running a "welcome back to class" advertisement in Identidad Latina, a city-based Hispanic newspaper. The ad features the city seal but doesn't include a statement saying who paid for or authorized the advertisement, Vargas said.
"If it was indeed paid for by the city of Hartford, it brings up questions of transparency and responsible usage of city funds," he said in a release issued Tuesday.
Vargas also said that in 1993, when Segarra was corporation counsel, a $150,000 business loan was granted to Bercom Distributors by the city. The company closed after making only a few payments, according to reports, and the loan was deemed unrecoverable.
"Segarra, as corporation counsel, was charged with pursuing this potentially fraudulent matter yet visibly stalled in his office's investigation process," Vargas said.
He said Wednesday the incidents show that the mayor has demonstrated a "cavalier attitude" and a pattern of unethical behavior.
"We saw a pattern we don't believe is a good pattern for a leader," Vargas said. "He should have a clear understanding of the importance of ethics and the appearance of wrongdoing."
Segarra's campaign manager, Phil Sherwood, said Vargas was stretching the truth as he seeks to unseat an incumbent in the Democratic primary.
"This is a desperate candidate doing desperate things at the last minute," Sherwood said. "It's unfortunate. Residents want to focus on the issues. That's what Mayor Segarra has done and what he'll continue to do."
Sherwood said Vargas' claims about the fence were "factually untrue," and that the advertisement was paid for by the city, but was not campaign material.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at