Despite some optimism in the days leading up to the vote, the Hartford City Council failed to fill two vacant seats on Monday night, voting down all three candidates who had been nominated. The council needs to fill two posts, a Democratic seat vacated by Matt Ritter, who was elected to the state legislature in November, and a Republican seat vacated by Veronica Airey-Wilson, who was convicted last year of criminal charges related to corruption. None of the names put forward garnered the five votes needed for appointment.
The two most likely candidates to fill the vacancies, according to council members, are Republican Corey Brinson, Airey-Wilson’s nephew and a local attorney, and Sean Arena, a former Democratic Town Committee chair and realtor. Another Republican with his name in the hat was Jerry Pleasant, scheduled to be nominated by Councilman Calixto Torres, but Pleasant publicly withdrew his nomination before council deliberations began on Monday. One other Democratic candidate, David McDonald, also failed to receive enough votes. A vote on the appointment of a third Democrat, Robert Painter, was postponed.
Brinson would seem to be a shoe-in, given that no other Republican names have been floated publicly. Brinson attempted to lobby council members after the tally was read last night, and expressed disappointment with the uncertainty of the vote.
“My preference would have been that they flesh it out before they put it to a full vote, rather than vote and just see what happens,” said Brinson.
The council will take the matter up again at its meeting on Jan. 24.