2010 marks the apparent end of the long political careers of two of the biggest names in Connecticut politics: Senator Chris Dodd and Governor Jodi Rell. Rell has been on a ballot in our state for a quarter century, serving as state representative, lieutenant governor and of course her present job. Dodd has been around even longer, nearly 40 years as a congressman and senator. Dodd could become an ambassador or cabinet secretary, and Governor Rell an advocate for a charity or cause close to her heart, but it is unlikely either will seek elected office ever again.
One thing is certain: these two political heavyweights will be remembered in stone, concrete, wood, granite, or all of the above. Make no doubt about it, someday they will each have a building, a park or a monument named in their honor, and deservedly so. Dodd’s father, the late Senator Thomas Dodd, served fewer terms in Washington than his son, and he has a library at the Universityof Connecticut named after him, as well as a stadium in Norwich.
How are these for suggestions: if the stretch of interstate 84 in Hartford known as the Aetna Viaduct is lowered and a tunnel is built there, it could be the Senator Chris Dodd Tunnel. Or if cash is tight, then what about renaming the Founders Bridge the “Dodd Bridge,” to honor his years of work bringing home federal funds for Riverfront Recapture? Perhaps a rebuilt UConn Health Center could bear his name, or Rell’s.
As for the governor, there was a suggestion made a while back by Hartford Courant columnist Tom Condon that the old historic Second Church of Christ, Scientist, a spectacular building near the Capitol, be donated to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and christened “Rell Hall, ” or the “Rell Center.” Over time it would simply be called “The Rell.” It would help revitalize the neighborhood near the Bushnell.
Many of our past governors, senators, and mayors are memorialized in our infrastructure and architecture. There is the Bulkeley Bridge, Wilbur Cross High School, the Ribicoff Federal Building, the O’Neill Fieldhouse, Ella Grasso Boulevard, and the list goes on.
It is not easy to get someone’s moniker on a sign, believe me. I worked to help the family of former Hartford Mayor Ann Uccello procure something to honor her trailblazing accomplishment as the first woman elected mayor of a major American city. This was 40 years after her historic election. It took more than a year of conversations with city and state officials and private citizens to make Ann Uccello Street a reality.
There will be people who will be opposed to anything named after Dodd or Rell, but they won’t prevail and nor should they. The two have served our state for many years, and were major players in several chapters of recent Connecticut history.
There are some recent political names absent in permanent recognition: John Rowland and Lowell Weicker. The Rowland State Government Center is named in honor of the former governor’s family, for their role in Waterbury politics, not the man who resigned in disgrace.
Weicker, the former congressman, senator and governor is part of an elite club of men who have been elected to those three offices. It is pretty rare. Before Dodd and Rell leave office, they might want to propose naming something after Weicker, to show their successors how easy it can be done.
It is good karma.
This originally appeared in the July issue of Hartford Magazine