These are obviously challenging times for Hartford and strong leadership is more important than ever as I take the reins of Connecticut's capital. Due to the succession rules in our city charter, following the conviction, which is being appealed, and resignation of Eddie Perez, I have become mayor. But let me assure the residents, employees and visitors of our great city that I am willing to accept the challenge and step into this unique situation with dedication, compassion and responsibility.
We need to move Hartford, my home for more than 35 years, to its rightful place as a leader in the global economy, with five Fortune 500 companies as well as a mosaic of independently owned businesses. I chose this city at the age of 15 and it has returned the favor by always being good to me. So, I humbly and honorably wish to serve it and its people.
These are also extraordinarily difficult financial times, so I must work tirelessly to look at all options and generate new ideas. This includes a process of collaboration, which I am undertaking. In the short time that I have been in office, I have already reached out to the governor and our congressional delegation, all of whom have graciously offered their support. I am thankful for their confidence.
I have also met with the MetroHartford Alliance; the Downtown Arts Initiative, called Iquilt; and with regional leaders of the Capitol Region Council of Governments who, by the way, were in awe of the view of the Connecticut River from the Greater Hartford Jaycees Community Boathouse. I encourage us all to take a moment and view the city with a fresh perspective.
Often the job of mayor — the CEO of the city — is viewed in the same fashion as a conductor of an orchestra. He or she didn't write the symphony, but must be there make sure that there is balance and harmony. In order to achieve the proper tone and pitch, I've been working 16-hour days, listening to people, reaching out to the community and business leaders, sharing ideas with other levels of government and making the appropriate changes locally to move Hartford forward, something I began to do as early as my first day in office. In the coming weeks, this outreach will continue in our Neighborhood Revitalization Zones and with our Community-Based Organizations.
To me, the priorities are clear: We need to create jobs, pursue academic excellence, promote economic development with an emphasis on small business, reduce crime by providing more positive alternatives for our youth while also taking an aggressive approach to law enforcement, increase community participation in government and also do something that we don't often do — inspire residents to shape our future and celebrate our successes.
Hartford has so much to offer itself, the region, the state and the world. Our diversity is showcased every day in our shops and restaurants. Our history and culture, arts and architecture are to me a magnet to attract people and businesses. Let's not allow negative and incorrect perceptions repel opportunities, and let's reach out to our neighbors within and outside the city.
It is important to see my neighbors and other city communities beautify streets, garden in open spaces and show compassion toward others. It is important to show that Hartford cares, especially when the economy is still troubled. We need to be at our best. I love this city so much, I've given up a law practice and made personal family sacrifices to put Hartford first.
Hartford needs to feel good about itself — especially now as the world will be watching with the Visa (U.S. Gymnastics) Championships coming to the XL Center in August and as we celebrate our 375th anniversary.
We have a proud history and I look forward to the future. My focus is to ensure that our residents and institutions are well served. I thank the dedicated workers of Hartford for going above and beyond the call of duty during this transition. I thank all of the well-wishers for their prayers and advice and I will keep an open ear.
Pedro E. Segarra is the mayor of Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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