Election day is next week, and in Hartford, Mayor Pedro Segarra is in a strong position to continue leading the city. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, there's another battle brewing -- about who will lead the city council.
When Democrat Shawn Wooden stood on the steps of city hall this summer and got out of the mayor's race, he got into the race for city council. He also got into the race for its leadership.
"And if the people of this city honor me with their votes, I plan on serving in a leadership role on that council."
That announcement got the attention of a lot of city Democrats, and it set the tone for a protracted public discussion over the council's control. Who should be in charge? Wooden, who has no council experience, or Ken Kennedy, who's been on the council for a decade? Or someone else?
In an interview, Wooden says he wants to lead the council - but not necessarily as its president. But he concedes his city hall statement has been interpreted that way.
"Yeah, by some, it certainly has."
By some...like Kennedy.
"I think there has been some level of tension. But it's not coming from I think the incumbent member of council. Shawn is a freshman councilman who's asking to lead the council."
Meanwhile, as the Democrats fight for spoils they haven't yet won, others are vying for council seats, too.
Luis Cotto is the council's minority leader from the Working Families Party. Minority candidates get three of the council's nine seats. Cotto's party is trying for four. He says that while Democrats and Republicans play politics as usual, his party doesn't. And, Cotto says his party's council record on issues like housing, parks, and the arts means it deserves more than just a minority.
"We can sit back and say, 'Let's be happy with the scraps that we're given.' But if we're truly going to be a party of accountability, and doing as much as we can for the residents of the city, then when we are presented with the opportunity, we need to step up and try take that."
Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to marginalize Cotto and his colleagues -- in part by cross endorsing Democrats in a city practically devoid of Republicans.
Finally, three independent candidates are also running for council.