As Mayor Anticipates Victory, City Races Focus On Minority Seats
By JENNA CARLESSO
October 25, 2011
HARTFORD —— Mayor Pedro Segarra faces three petitioning candidates in the Nov. 8 election, while six Democrats, three Republicans and four Working Families Party candidates will compete for nine seats on the city council.
Segarra, a Democrat heavily favored to win, appears on both the Democratic and Republican lines on the ballot, having been endorsed by city Republicans. He is being challenged by the Rev. Patrice Smith; Edwin Vargas, a member of the city's planning and zoning commission; and J. Stan McCauley, a local television entrepreneur. Vargas lost to Segarra in the Democratic primary last month.
Segarra said Tuesday that he has done some campaigning over the last several weeks, including appearing at forums and making phone calls, but remains primarily focused on city business.
"We recognize that the primary was really where we needed to put the most effort," he said. "I'm very committed to working on the issues that confront our city." Segarra said.
Segarra let go most of his paid campaign staff after the primary, but still has a small group of people working for him, as well as volunteers.
Vargas said he has continued campaigning, but with a smaller group of volunteers. His supporters have been knocking on doors throughout the city, he said.
McCauley, who announced his candidacy for mayor about two years ago, has run a modest campaign, but said said Tuesday he felt confident about his chances.
"I feel that the incumbent is grossly underestimating the level of anger and discontent among the people," McCauley said. "I have strong support across the city. I think we're going to win."
With Segarra confident of victory, the most contentious part of the election is the competition between Republicans and the Working Families Party for the three minority representation seats on the city council.
In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 18 to 1, Democrats have traditionally had a lock on six seats on the council. The remaining three seats traditionally went to Republicans, but the equation changed in 2009 when the Working Families Party captured two of those seats, leaving the Republicans only one.
Michael McGarry, chairman of the Republican Town Committee, said the party endorsed Segarra in part to help bolster votes for the party's candidates. The party endorsed three candidates for city council — Corey Brinson, Michael Fryar and Sweets Wilson — as well as Michele Hoff Fryar for city treasurer.
"We've got three pretty good candidates that will bring fresh ideas to the council," McGarry said. "It's very difficult for us to work against Working Families Party. They're supported by the union; they have volunteers on the left."
Jon Green, executive director of the Working Families Party, said the party's four endorsed candidates have been "pounding the pavement and knocking on doors." The candidates are Luis Cotto, Larry Deutsch, Cynthia Renee Jennings and Joel Cruz Jr.
"There's a lot of wheeling and dealing going on. We chose a different path," Green said. "Instead of saying, 'let's make a deal' we said 'let's give voters real choices and let them decide who should represent them."
Also competing for a seat on the council are petitioning candidates rJo Winch, who currently serves as council president, Kevin Brookman and Gerry Pleasent. The Democratic candidates are Kenneth Kennedy, Shawn Wooden, Raul DeJesus Jr., Kyle Anderson, Alexander Aponte and David MacDonald.
In the city treasurer's race, Hoff Fryar and petitioning candidate Lawrence Davis are challenging incumbent Democrat Adam Cloud.
Voters will also have the opportunity to decide whether the city council should get pay raises next year that would increase their salaries by nearly 80 percent. Council members' salaries are set to rise from $15,000 to $26,650 in 2012. Voters narrowly approved that increase in a 2008 referendum.
A question on the ballot next month will ask voters if they wish to rescind those raises, effectively keeping the council salaries at $15,000.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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