HARTFORD — Calling it "the start of a four-year odyssey," Pedro E. Segarra was sworn in Tuesday to his first full mayoral term.
Segarra, the former city council president who took over as mayor in 2010 — succeeding Eddie Perez, who was convicted on corruption charges — pledged to take greater ownership of improving the city.
"I am hoping we will rise again, not because we have fallen, but because we have decided to take ownership of our city," Segarra told a packed first floor at city hall Tuesday. "We will reclaim our greatness as Connecticut's capital city because we are taking responsibility for our path and striving to make this capital a city that all [of] Connecticut can be proud of."
The mayor pointed to his prior work in having blighted buildings torn down and investing in what he called "the revitalization of our neighborhoods."
"Recreating our city is a process that we have already begun," he said. "We have had our share of sunshine and storms, of triumphs and trials. Through every challenge, we have emerged and will continue to do that."
Segarra said he and other city officials would be more responsive to local issues, including crime and blight. His top priorities also include improving education, job training and employment opportunities.
"To the people of Hartford, this evening, and the next four years, are about you," he said. "If your street is being plagued by vagrancy and crime, we will show you what we're doing to correct the problem. If your business is in need of assistance, we will have clear information on how we can help."
Several state and local politicians attended the ceremony Tuesday, including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General George Jepsen, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and former members of the city council.
The nine city council members elected in November also were sworn in Tuesday. They are Democrats Alexander Aponte, Shawn Wooden, Kenneth Kennedy, Kyle Anderson, David MacDonald and Raul DeJesus Jr., and Working Families Party members Larry Deutsch, Luis Cotto and Cynthia Jennings.
City Treasurer Adam Cloud, who was elected in November to his first full term, also was sworn in.
After a long battle over who would lead the city council, members on Tuesday appointed Wooden, a newcomer to the panel, as council president.
Support had been split between Wooden and Kennedy. At one point, it appeared Kennedy would become president, having won support from four other council Democrats, sources said.
But recently, Wooden was able to rally votes from four council members – Anderson, Deutsch, Cotto and Jennings. With his own vote, he secured the five needed to win the leadership position. The swing vote appeared to have come from Anderson, a Democrat, sources said.
Anderson said that at one point he hestitated to break away from his fellow Democrats to vote for Wooden alongside the Working Families Party members, but he had promised Wooden his support.
"It was a very close race. I just felt that Shawn was the right person for this job at this time," he said.
Wooden said Tuesday he was honored by the decision.
"I think it's a healthy election process we went through," he said. "It's contested; people debate. There was some back-and-forth, and I'm honored that my colleagues selected me. I'm eager to get to work."
Deutsch said he backed Wooden because the council needed a change. Kennedy has served on the panel for years; Wooden was sworn in to his first term Tuesday.
"The traditional array of Democrat and Republican representation has not improved the liveliness and democracy of the city," he said.
"I think in a deeper way, we need new leadership."
Kenendy said Tuesday he was disappointed by the vote, but optimistic about working with the council.
"There's always personalities and differences among members of council," he said. "But if we keep the people of the city of Hartford in mind, we'll all be fine."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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