HARTFORD —— Squabbling between the city's three voter registrars has become so disruptive that Mayor Pedro Segarra wrote them a formal letter asking them to work out their differences.
He even offered to personally convene a meditation session to help resolve them.
In his letter, sent Oct. 4 to Democratic Registrar Olga Iris Vazquez, Republican Registrar Salvatore Bramante and Working Families Party Registrar Urania Petit, Segarra noted the special dynamic involved in having a registars' office with three political parties represented.
In November 2008, the city office was the first to have three registrars after Petit finished second to Vazquez in total number of votes in the general election. By state law, the first- and second-highest vote-getters are appointed. But the law also says that both the Democrat and Republican parties must be represented in the office.
Segarra said the current situation promotes "difficult working conditions and hostility between colleagues," and asked them to "set aside idealogical or personal differences so as to efficiently complete the work of the people of Hartford."
Segarra reminded them of the importance of the office during elections and told them that, as a fellow elected official, he had "shown them respectful distance, but I fear an intervention is necessary. In the past I have offered to host a mediation session and that offer still stands."
None accepted the offer, Segarra's spokeswoman, Sarah Barr, said.
Petit said the incident that likely prompted Segarra's letter occurred several weeks ago when a meeting was scheduled between the corporation counsel's office and the registrars office to discuss plans for the November election. A few days before the meeting, Petit said, Vazquez sent an email that she wouldn't be attending if Petit was going to attend.
That type of petty dispute has been the norm since she took office, Petit said.
"I get it every single day no matter what I do," Petit said. "Every day is judgment day."
Vazquez declined to comment other than to say in an email that "the mayor has been fully aware of the situation in the Registrars of Voters office since 2009, therefore this is not a recent situation just developing."
Vazquez also questioned Segarra's motives for sending the letter: "I am also curious about his offer of the sudden offer for mediation. Could this offer have anything to do with his campaign for election?"
Bramante also declined to discuss the situation or the letter other than to say that tension had been an issue since 2009 and that "I am focusing my full attention on the upcoming election because that is what the voters of the city of Hartford deserve."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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