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Hartford Mayor Enters Nominating Convention In Position Of Strength

By JENNA CARLESSO

July 20, 2011

HARTFORD Mayor Pedro Segarra has put himself in a comfortable position as he gets ready for Thursday's Democratic nominating convention.

His strongest opponent stepped aside three weeks ago in an agreement brokered by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, leaving Segarra a clear path to the party endorsement. And in a city dominated by Democrats, Segarra appears to be the odds-on favorite to win in November, too, barring a primary battle.

"There's overwhelming support for Pedro Segarra to receive the nomination of the Democratic town committee," said John Kennelly, a committee member. "The support comes from all corners of the city. I feel he will be very soundly endorsed."

State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Hartford, agreed.

"I know he has support in every single district," said Gonzalez, a member of the town committee. "He's going to get the nomination, no doubt."

Segarra, the former city council president who took over for Mayor Eddie A. Perez last year, is seeking his own term in office. Perez resigned in June after he was convicted of felony corruption charges.

City lawyer Shawn Wooden, considered the strongest challenger to Segarra, said late last month that he would drop out of the mayoral race, support Segarra and run for city council.

Mayoral candidates Edwin Vargas and J. Stan McCauley said they would wage a primary if they don't get the endorsement Thursday. The endorsed candidate will face Republican Michael T. McGarry in November.

"The convention tends to favor the incumbent," said Vargas, a member of the planning and zoning commission. "I'm planning on collecting signatures for both the Democratic primary and the election."

Several members of the town committee said the treasurer race would be highly contested. Four candidates have joined the pool current Treasurer Adam Cloud, city Tax Collector Marc Nelson, Rep. Kelvin Roldan, D-Hartford, and Lawrence Davis, a member of the city's internal audit commission.

Party insiders said that Cloud and Davis have the most support, but that none has enough yet to get the endorsement.

The committee will also endorse six candidates for city council.

Candidates with strong support, party insiders said, include council members Kenneth Kennedy and Alexander Aponte; Kyle Anderson, an employee of the state Department of Consumer Protection; Raul DeJesus, who ran against Perez for mayor in 2007; and Kathleen Kowalyshyn, a city attorney. Other candidates with support include Wooden and Andrea Comer, a former Hartford Board of Education member.

Comer, however, wrote on her Facebook page Monday that she has withdrawn from the race. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Political observers noted that if the candidates with the strongest support get endorsed, it would change the Democrats' traditional representation of two Latinos, two African Americans and two white members on the council. That racial makeup has been in effect for years.

The new makeup could be three African Americans, two Latinos and one white member.

Gonzalez, a supporter of the "two-two-two" makeup, said it should stay that way.

"Why give more power to one community versus another?" she said. "Everybody has the same representation, and I think we should stick with that and work with that."

But Julio Concepcion, another committee member, called the makeup "outdated."

"I understand why it was implemented," he said, "but I think the city is in a place where it needs the six best candidates regardless of their race."

The Democratic nominating convention will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Bulkeley High School, 300 Wethersfield Ave.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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