Trail-Blazing Former Hartford Mayor Ann Uccello Turns 90
Hartford Courant Editorial
May 18, 2012
As the story goes, the young executive at G. Fox went to her boss, Beatrice Fox Auerbach, in 1963 and said she'd like to run for Hartford city council. Since the council met on Mondays, a day the famed department store was closed, Mrs. A gave her blessing.
What followed was one of the most remarkable — if all too brief — political careers in Hartford history. The woman was Ann Uccello, a daughter of Italian immigrants and a Republican. She served two terms on the council before being elected mayor in 1967 — a remarkable accomplishment for a Republican in a heavily Democratic city (she remains the city's last Republican mayor) and for a woman in a city that had never elected a female mayor. Indeed, she was the first woman to serve as mayor of a capital city in the country.
She was elected again in 1969, and began getting national attention. She ran for Congress at the urging of President Richard Nixon in 1970 and came within a whisker of defeating the vaunted Democratic machine. When she left office in 1971 to accept an appointment at the Department of Transportation in Washington, she strongly recommended the city shift to a strong-mayor system. It took three decades, but it happened.
Intelligent, courageous, graceful under pressure, Miss Uccello, as the newspapers always called her, championed better housing, job training and protecting children from lead paint, among other things. She returned from Washington in 1977 to help run the family's insurance business, and remained active for years on boards and commissions, with her party and with her alma mater, St. Joseph College. The city council renamed a downtown street in her honor.
Miss Uccello turns 90 Saturday. Please join us in wishing her a happy birthday. As her former campaign manager and fellow G. Fox alum George Ducharme put it in a recent interview, "She was, and is, somebody special."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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