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Democrats Change Candidate Formula, But Criticized For Not Including A Woman On Slate

Party Endorsed Three African Americans, Two Latinos And One White Candidate For November Election


July 22, 2011

HARTFORD For the first time in years, the city's Democratic Town Committee broke its tradition of endorsing two African-Americans, two Latinos and two white candidates for city council.

Instead, the party endorsed three African-Americans, two Latinos and one white candidate.

"I'm glad the committee finally moved past that system and put more emphasis on endorsing candidates for their capabilities, rather than focusing on their race," said Julio Concepcion, a town committee member.

Endorsed candidates include council member Kenneth Kennedy; Kyle Anderson, an employee in the state Department of Consumer Protection; council member Alex Aponte; Raul DeJesus, who ran against former Mayor Eddie Perez in 2007; David MacDonald, chairman of the city's board of education; and Shawn Wooden, a city lawyer.

As expected, Mayor Pedro Segarra was the overwhelming choice for mayor.

In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 18 to 1, the endorsements are key to who is elected. Three seats on the council are set aside for minority parties; they are currently held by two members of the Working Families Party and one Republican.

After the convention, the Democrats were criticized by some for not including a woman on its slate.

"I think it's unfortunate and it directly ties in with the way the Democratic Town Committee deals with stuff," said city Councilman Luis Cotto, a member of the Working Families Party. "They're looking amongst their own to maintain the status quo they've enjoyed these past decades.

"There's no reason women shouldn't be on that slate. They don't put in place any processes to try to nurture the next female leaders."

Concepcion agreed.

"I think the glaring weakness of the slate is the fact that we don't have any women," he said. "I don't think any of us could look at ourselves in the mirror and think we have a fair, representative slate."

Council President rJo Winch was not endorsed at the convention. Winch could not be reached for comment Friday.

Wooden, who dropped out of the mayoral race three weeks ago and said he would instead run for city council, emerged as the top vote-getter. Some party insiders said Wooden was able to attract votes by agreeing not to run for city council president, which they said might go to Kennedy.

Wooden disputed that, however.

"I want to play a leadership role, and that's something to be determined by the council," he said Friday. "There was no discussion whatsoever about council presidency at the convention."

One town committee member said Roy Occhiogrosso, senior adviser to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, reached out to him before the convention on behalf of Wooden. Malloy said at a press conference last month that the mayoral and city council races are "races I intend to get involved in."

Occhiogrosso said Friday that he did contact a town committee member on behalf of Wooden.

"I relayed to that person that the governor is a strong supporter of Shawn Wooden," he said. "The governor is respectful of the town committee process, but that's a race he cares about. Hartford is where he lives now."

Occhiogrosso said the governor considers Wooden an "up and coming leader" who would help "move the city forward."

The town committee endorsed Adam Cloud for treasurer.

Cloud, who was appointed treasurer in February, beat out state Rep. Kelvin Roldan, D-Hartford, Lawrence Davis, a member of the city's internal audit commission, and city Tax Collector Marc Nelson.

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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