Hartford City Council Selects Winch As New President
Former Mayor Eddie Perez Looms Large
By Jeff Cohen
September 01, 2010
The Hartford City Council has chosen Democrat rJo Winch to serve as its next president. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.
The question of who should lead the council came up more than two months ago, when then Mayor Eddie Perez resigned and then council President Pedro Segarra took his place. Segarra’s rise left a vacancy on the council, which was filled last week. That new councilman helped secure Winch’s victory.
The council meeting Wednesday night was itself a lesson in Hartford politics, with most of the hour-long council discussion focused on who had promised who what – and when. Councilman Jim Boucher started it off, saying he thought the presidency was rightfully his and that the process was flawed.
“When duly elected officials break their word, trust suffers and the city pays the price. What we are left with is a major step backwards for the city…just when I thought we were moving forward.”
Things got more uncomfortable when it came time for Councilman Ken Kennedy to speak. He says the fight over who would lead the council has nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with former Mayor Perez.
“I suspect the vote this evening reflects the desires of a few to recapture power and influence they had under the previous administration whose leader was found guilty of five felony convictions. Eddie Perez’s fingerprints are all over this vote. Every council member voting in favor…”
“I have the floor. What this process has revealed is that this council is truly divided. We are a council divided not along party lines, but along the lines of who supported and benefited from the former mayor.”
And that steamed Councilman Calixto Torres, who is a friend of Perez.
"The farthest thing from the mayor’s mind right now is political involvement. The man is struggling to stay out of jail. He can’t afford to pay the big bucks to do that.”
Last month, Winch was an unsuccessful primary candidate for state representative. But on Wednesday, after giving a speech correcting the record about who promised who what and when, Winch won the council presidency with five of nine votes.
"I will accept this office of president and all its challenges and every single responsibility that goes with it. I will start each day thinking of how I can work together to make Hartford a better place to live, to educate our children, and employment for our residents."
Hartford's council president presides over the council's meetings and helps set the agenda. Perhaps most importantly, should the mayor be unable to serve, it's the council president that's next in line.