After Weeks of Deliberations, the City Council Appoints Two New Members
January 31, 2011
The Hartford City Council chambers will no longer feel so empty; Dr. Robert Painter and Attorney Corey Brinson were chosen this week to fill two vacancies on the nine-member body.
After several weeks of deliberation, the council chose Painter, who served two terms on the council between 2002 and 2008 as a Republican, but will now serve as a Democrat. Painter is filling the seat vacated by Democrat Matt Ritter, who resigned from the council after winning election to the state assembly.
Brinson, a Republican, will fill the seat formerly held by his aunt, Republican Veronica Airey-Wilson, who resigned last year following a criminal conviction related to public corruption. City law requires candidates who win appointment to vacant seats to be of the same party as the former occupant.
The vote itself became a point of contention at city hall on Monday, when Councilman Larry Deutsch objected to what he called a surprise parliamentary procedure. Deutsch had put forth a resolution nominating Brinson for the open Republican seat, but the majority amended the resolution to include both Brinson and Painter.
Democrat and Council President rJo Winch said part of the reason for combining the two appointments into one resolution was to ensure that each candidate was appointed at the same time. After weeks of wrangling, Winch said, the majority didn’t want to take a chance that negotiations would fall apart when a new member, and their particular opinions, were added to the mix.
“I wanted to see them done simultaneously on the same resolution. That way, both of the appointments can happen,” says Winch.
Brinson said his priorities would include attracting and retaining young professionals, and encouraging them to live and work in the city’s urban core. Just shy of 31 himself, Brinson may be well positioned to communicate with that particular constituency.
Brinson called himself a fiscal conservative, and said streamlining the budget will be a priority for him. He said he wasn’t comfortable talking about specific cuts to programs just yet, after only a few days in office, but said generally that he would look to reduce the number of activities government engages in. He said he’d consider privatizing some services, but also wanted to maintain government programs to the extent possible.
Asked if he felt like an outsider as the only Republican on the council, Brinson said no.
“I think that sometimes party labels at the local level are just that,” labels, Brinson says.
Painter also said the city’s budget would be his highest priority. He said he was eager to help out, but also said he didn’t plan to run again after the current terms are up in 2012. Painter speculated that there may be an opportunity for greater cooperation this time around, under the leadership of Mayor Pedro Segarra.
“Clearly we have another mayor with a different style, and without some of the difficulties that Eddie presented. So I think it will be a different kind of a process,” says Painter.