City Councilman Matt Ritter supplied the biggest surprise at Tuesday night’s debate among candidates in the upcoming Democratic Primary on August 10.
A question supplied by a member of the audience had asked all challengers in the primary to explain why they thought their opponent, the incumbent, should lose his job as an elected official.
Four of the challengers eagerly took up the question and criticized their opponents with varying amounts of vigor. Ritter spoke last, and said that when he had told his grandmother that he was getting into politics, she told him, “Don’t ever attack an opponent because it doesn’t make you a better person.” So Ritter refrained from criticizing his opponent, State Representative Ken Green (1st District), and instead discussed one of the main themes of his campaign, state-funded pre-k education.
Tuesday’s debate was sponsored by the Hartford Votes - Hartford Vota Coalition and the Hartford Public Library in association with several other organizations.
Nine of the ten candidates in the August 10 primary attended the debate with only State Representative Hector Robles (6th District) being absent. In attendance were State Senator John Fonfara (1st District) and his opponent, Edwin Vargas; State Representative Kelvin Roldan (4th District) and his opponent, Angel Morales; State Representative Douglas McCrory (7th District) and his opponent, Councilwoman rJo Winch; Alyssa Peterson, who is running against Robles in the 6th District; and Green and Ritter.
The debate was moderated by Channel 3 anchor and Hartford resident Dennis House and covered a broad range of topics, from the future of the I-84 viaduct to allowing liquor stores to open on Sundays.
But, as would be expected in tough economic times, much of the discussion centered around money and, more specifically, state funding.
McCrory said, “The City of Hartford gets the most funding of all of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns. We [Hartford’s legislative delegation] get the money to the city...The question is, what is the city doing with the money? When the City of Hartford employs people, the people of Hartford should get first priority.”
Green agreed, saying, “We get state funding. If it wasn’t for what we do, your mill rate would be two or three times higher.”
Both McCrory and Green are being challenged by members of Hartford City Council (Winch and Ritter, respectively).