Old friend, we want you to continue to be Mayor Mike. The man about town, the guy who brings us together. Even today, with years past his term, and his afflictions, the term “Mayor Mike”, fits well.
Last week, Susan Campbell wrote an article for the Courant’s front page, top of the fold – touting our Mayor Mike as, once again, the saviour of Hartford.
Your correspondent was part of the original deal that made Mayor Mike Mayor and found the article a bit too cute and not historically accurate, as it left out the pieces that really counted at that time.
Many will remember that Mayor Perry beat Fireman Peters in the Democratic Primary in 1993, by 1,200 votes. One major turning point that made a big difference in the general election was the backing of the Hartford Republican party. Yes, a deal was cut – Peters and two Democrats working with three Republicans as the “A Team”. What was needed at the time was not only a mayoral victory but five votes on council to govern. Remember now, the three Republicans were, proudly, conservatives and most of Mayor Mike’s supporters were tending liberal or at least centrists. Old-line South End Democrats were crucial to any success.
After a huge victory for all six of the “A Team” (Peters won 12,000 to 7,500), a government had to be formed and a direction set. Right away, insiders knew real change was coming with a definite switch from a set of policies actually encouraging bigger more expensive government to one of reducing the size and scope of city government. Reducing taxes and encouraging business investment were the new goals. The Perry years saw dramatic increases in social service spending and emphasis, the Peters’ years – as least under the Republican partnership – saw the opposite. Homeownership was in. Business development was welcome. Co-operation with Governor Roland reaped great benefits once he saw financial stability in the city.
If Mike beats his current health problem, is he up to taking on such a challenge again? Much has changed – this is not the Hartford of 1993. Demographics, the size of the city workforce, the willingness of state government to engage, all have shifted dramatically leaving little room to maneuver. What a challenge it would be.
However, back in 1992, a challenge from a line fireman to a nationally known Mayor, actually worked out pretty well. So, who knows? New York City changed based on personality and philosophy, possibly we could see such here in river city. The best minds – Democrat, Republican and even Working People’s Party members need to cut the mustard and find a way out of the potential financial crash looming on the horizon.