Two Slates to Battle it Out in Town Committee Primary
February 21, 2008
South Hartford’s political establishment has split down the middle in a battle for control of the powerful 6th District Democratic Town Committee.
Two full slates of 13 candidates each will face off in a primary election on Tuesday, March 4 (South End Republicans are also having a primary on March 4, see Mike McGarry’s “Politically Speaking” column on page 2).
Among the Democrats, divisions created during last year’s bruising mayoral campaign and the prospect of challenges to both incumbents from the district, State Senator John Fonfara and State Representative Art Feltman, this year have combined to create two strong slates.
Eight of the 6th District Town Committee’s 13 current members have signed on with the South Hartford United (SHU) slate and three have joined the opposition slate, South End Democrats For Change (SEDFC). Two current members, Michele Walker and David Kovacs, have decided not to seek re-election.
The primary purpose of the various town committees is to seek out, evaluate and endorse candidates.
SHU is headed up by Hartford Police Officer Hector Robles. Robles ran unsuccessfully against Feltman in 2004 and says he plans to run for the seat again this year. Control of the Town Committee would give Robles a big advantage in the upcoming campaign.
The SHU slate also includes current town committee members Janet Appellof, Edward Casares, Jr., Kathy Evans, David MacDonald, Al Marotta, Ana Natal and Wilbert Vazquez as well as former Deputy Registrar of Voters Marie Hamilton.
But the SEDFC also boasts some local political heavyweights. In addition to incumbents Lillian Milly Arciniegas, Carmen Sierra and Hyacinth Yennie, former City Councilman Eugenio Caro has signed on with the slate, as have long-time political activists Nancy Noli and Alyssa Peterson.
With so many well-known figures vying for the 13 town committee seats, the eventual winners may be a mixture of the two slates. But whichever side wins seven seats will control the committee.
So far, only Robles has said he is definitely running for State Representative. But he said he believes Sierra will also seek the seat which is why he pushed to have her left off the town committee this year.
For her part, Sierra said she is indeed “exploring the opportunity” of running for State Representative but has yet to make a definite decision. “Right now, the most important thing is to have a good town committee,” said Sierra.
Feltman has also backed away from any firm commitment on whether he will seek re-election. “Am I running? A lot of people are urging me to. But no, I have not decided yet,” Feltman said Tuesday afternoon.
Sierra said she began forming an opposition slate after hearing that Robles and his allies no longer wanted her, Arciniegas, Yennie and Walker on the town committee. Sierra said after news about the challenge slate began to circulate through the political community, she was asked to rejoin the slate. “I said I would if they’d take the others back as well. They said no,” said Sierra.
Yennie said any divisions within the committee should have been worked out by the group as a whole. “If there were any issues they should have been brought out and talked over by everyone...At least then we’d know where we all stand,” she said.