The Working Families Party, which won two of the three minority party seats on Hartford's city council in this month's election, has chosen Larry Deutsch as the council's minority leader.
Working Families took control of the minority caucus with its electoral victory, relegating the city's Republican party to a single seat on the council, held by Veronica Airey-Wilson.
The leaders of Working Families, which was founded in Connecticut in 2002, say they are dedicated to fighting for social and economic justice. The political process, they say, is dominated by lobbyists and special interests who too often ignore the issues of working people.
"I'm excited for the chance to lead the new minority on the council," Deutsch said in a statement. "We ran with the support of an organized base of community and labor activists, and as minority leader, I'm committed to keeping the council's attention on fair wages, improved housing conditions, quality schools, and a healthier environment."
Deutsch, a pediatrician, was elected along with fellow party member Luis Cotto, the co-owner of La Paloma Sabanera coffeehouse and bookstore on Capitol Avenue.
"Larry has the ability to get to the root of any problem — his career as a pediatrician has taught him that," Cotto said. "He'll be a great addition to the council's leadership team."
Deutsch will take over the position of council minority leader when his term begins in January. He will succeed Republican Robert Painter, who did not run for re-election. Painter said he hopes Deutsch and the other members of the council's minority find a way to strengthen their role in the new city charter. The city council has been criticized for being a "rubber stamp" that succumbs to Mayor Eddie A. Perez's will instead of acting on its own.
"The new council appears to be interested in readjusting the balance of power between the mayor and the council, building on the experience of the first council that had to deal with the new charter," Painter said. "What I told Larry, to paraphrase, is that this is a real opportunity for the minority group to help that readjustment of power."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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