At the recent forum in the community room at St. Augustine Church in Hartford’s Southend, a candidate forum was held that certainly underlined the differences between those running in the August 12th Democratic Primary.
We will focus this week on the two most hotly contested races in the southern parts of the city: Senator John Fonfara is being challenged by Edwin Vargas and Hector Robles, as the endorsed candidate, has Carmen Sierra as his opponent.
The contrasts between the candidates becomes one of style and background as opposed to issues. Everybody wants more benefits, less taxes and a peaceful city. Exactly how we get those things is certainly a question with answers way past individual senators or representatives.
So it comes to who likes who and which potential officeholder can get to enough prime voters and convince those who probably will vote that the public really needs their service.
As for the presentations at St. Augustine, all four candidates gave good accounts of themselves. Senator Fonfara dwelled on his experience and contacts; Ed Vargas on his energy and enthusiasm. Hector Robles came across as the common man with lots in common with his constituency; Carmen Sierra gave quite an impressive description of her background.
The problem is, of course, that Hartford has become a ward of the state and everytime we see a problem in the city, our leadership says “more P.I.L.O.T. (Payment In Lieu of Taxes).” Well, as we find out, when the tide turns, cities can’t expect continuing support.
Just what can a Senator or Representative do when the state bails out, the image of Hartford is bad money following bad money, and with everybody on pins and needles about various investigations? We would like to see the various candidates come up with a few ideas for breaking the cycle of dependency on an increasingly unreliable partner – state government. The city takes on obligations (the whole social welfare, CHFA Housing, training, Halfway houses, etc…) without proper funding secured for long-term commitments. History shows we are overcommitted to solving the region’s problems so what do our hopeful leaders suggest?
Can they somehow prevail on CHFA to stop loading us with housing for the poor? Can we control the dumping of offenders into our streets and neighborhoods? Can we consolidate various overlapping (State funded) social service agencies that compete for clients?
It’s time for a real debate about our real problem: a heart so big that it is ready to burst.