Mayor's Camp Hits Back, Citing Challenger's Council Leadership
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
October 28, 2007
With the election around the corner, Hartford mayoral challenger I. Charles Mathews has ramped up his rhetoric against incumbent Eddie A. Perez.
In a postcardthat started landing in mailboxes on Friday, Mathews asked voters to contemplate what the city has gotten from numerous tax hikes under Perez's administration.
"Are we safer?" the mailer asks. "Have our dollars been well-spent? Or is our money used to support the mayor's friends and politically-connected contractors?"
The mailer compares what it describes as "Hartford today" - patronage, money wasted on failed school projects, and proposed deals for companies that owe the city money - to what Mathews promises as "Hartford tomorrow."
Perez's campaign manager, Kenny Curran, described the Mathews ad as an attack that failed to mention anything about "Hartford yesterday," when, Curran said, Mathews led the city council and crime was higher citywide and schools had to defer maintenance.
The Mathews postcard is a departure from what the candidate says is his preferred approach, used when he meets with voters:stickingto issues - taxes, education and crime. But Mathews said he felt forced to go on the offensive after Perez attacked his record in two recent advertisements, which Mathews said were distortions of the truth, if not "outright lies."
Mathews characterized the mailer not as an attack, but as an effort to illuminate all parts of Perez's record the mayor may not want to highlight himself.
"Eddie has said he wants to be judged on his entire record, and we want to make sure the voters understand his entire record," Mathews said. "And it is more than just building some schools. It also includes charges of corruption, wrongdoing and favors done for political supporters."
As Perez's administration has faced more problems, Mathews said, it's hard to keep trusting Perez's excuse that they are simply mistakes and not what Mathews calls a "pattern of behavior."
State criminal investigators are looking into several deals made by Perez and his administration, including a parking lot lease to a political supporter and a $20,000 remodeling job on Perez's bathroom and kitchen by a city contractor.
"The two candidates both have public records," Curran said, "but that's where the similarities stop. Mayor Perez is running strong on his record; however, I. Charles Mathews is treating his record like a really bad haircut. He knows it's there, he just doesn't want to talk about it. But if I had his record of failing Hartford, I wouldn't want to talk about it either."
Mathews is considered Perez's leading challenger among the five opposing his re-election.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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