Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra came to office last summer following the resignation of Mayor Eddie Perez. He said he just wanted to be short-term administrator, not a long-term politician But as WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports, things have changed.
One thing Segarra says he learned in his six or so months on the job is that you can’t have a part-time chief of staff. Another thing is that you can’t avoid city politics and run the city effectively.
“I came into office thinking that I would just take the city through a difficult period of time and then sort of bow out. But I also understand that there are some political realities out there and that I cannot be blind to those political realities.”
So this week, Segarra – who is running for reelection -- appointed a new chief of staff : Jared Kupiec, a 27-year-old former campaign staffer for Ned Lamont.
Kupiec’s arrival at city hall comes as the city itself is in the middle of dramatic change. Three of the city council’s nine members next year will be people who weren't elected to the office. Also, thanks to a retirement incentive program Segarra is using to save money, he’s losing a lot of city talent – the treasurer, leaders in human resources and public works, and the city’s budget director, to name a few.
“For one to think that one can survive this economy, resolve these multi-million dollar deficits and still be in the same playing position would be false. This is all happening as we have some very major, major issues. Budget issues and fiscal issues. That troubles me.”
Sitting in the office once occupied by former Mayor Eddie Perez, WNPR asked Segarra whether the honeymoon period of being the new guy in charge was over.
“It will never be over. Because everyone tends to draw comparisons. We’ll have to wait until the future to do the analysis to see exactly who Pedro was and judge Pedro by what he did and didn’t do without drawing any comparisons to anyone else.”
That future will come next year, as at least two candidates are challenging Segarra for his mayoral seat.