For the first time since the 1990s, the name Eddie Perez will not be on the ballot in the race for mayor in Hartford. On Face the State last month, Mayor Pedro Segarra talked about running for his first full term, and as expected challengers are coming forward. This weekend on FTS, one of those challengers, Shawn Wooden was our guest.
Wooden, like Segarra, is a West End Democrat, and both are attorneys. Segarra had to shutter his practice when he became mayor, Wooden is with the downtown firm of Day Pitney. He’s already raised $100,000 to take on Mayor Segarra.
During our taping, Wooden talked about how in the 1950s, his family came to Hartford from Georgia in the hopes of finding a better life. He explained how he believes Hartford has declined since then, and what he plans to do about it if elected mayor. By the way, Wooden is an alumnus of the Channel 3 Kids Camp.
I asked Wooden why voters should choose him over Mayor Segarra and he accused Segarra of not “having the leadership to make this city excel.” Wooden called the city unsafe, and was critical of the mayor’s stance on crime and crime statistics. I asked Wooden about the job performance of HPD Chief Daryl K. Roberts.
We also talked about the Hartford population and job crisis: more than 50,000 people have moved out since 1950. Vacant lots that were once home to thriving buildings and homes remain undeveloped, and have been empty for decades. At least four major corporations moved to the suburbs during the final years of the Perez administration, taking thousands of jobs,and millions in tax revenue. I asked Wooden about his plan to restore the tax base, and get people to move to Hartford.
Speaking of Perez, I also asked Wooden if he agreed with city council president RJo Winch when she told WNPR’s Jeff Cohen, ” I don’t believe to this day that it was proven that Perez took a bribe. “
Another question posed was about Carrie Saxon Perry, for whom Wooden worked when she was mayor. Her tenure ended poorly in 1993 and left a bad taste in the mouths of many citizens.
My observations after interviewing Segarra and Wooden, are that this mayoral election is going to very interesting, and both men are intelligent, and seem to be extremely knowledgeable about a breadth of issues and that serves the voters well. There are two other candidates, Edwin Vargas and Stan McCauley who have not been on the program.
What does not serve the voters well is the lack of diverse talk about how to improve the city. At this time there are only Democrats running for mayor. The Republican party has yet to put forth a candidate; ditto for the Working Families Party. The Democrats have controlled the mayor’s office since 1971, and certainly a compelling argument could be made that one party rule has not been good for Hartford. The last Republican elected was Ann Uccello, elected in 1967 and re-elected in ’69. At 87, I’m not sure she is interested in a comeback.
Here is the interview with Shawn Wooden: http://www.wfsb.com/local-video/index.html?grabnetworks_video_id=4637561
Your comment that voters are ill-served by lack of genuinely diverse talk about how to improve the City is pertinent. It appears to be an invitation for others, including Working Families Party, to hop in vigorously, for Mayor, Council, or who-knows-what other office may soon become vacant. Valid questions about whether citizens are well-served by our old two party system are becoming common, including a recent NPR forum. For Hartford, let’s see what happens in coming months.
Larry Deutsch, Hartford City Council and Working Families Party
Having met Shawn at the Governor’s Inaugural Ball in January, a few observations:
1) Over his head, perhaps should run for Council.
2) No real tangible argument to unseat incumbent (in a year Segarra has done more than Perez did in a full term).
3) Seems to have lost momentum with fundraising — Segarra and Wooden raised the same amount and Segarra hired staff in March.
4) The wall street background is curious and probably not a convincing argument for Hartford voters.
Interested to see what he has to say about crime. Hope he really understands that elected officials can’t alone reduce crime, and certainly not violent crime.
Typical Lawyer running for office. How is it a lawyer is a better canidate for office. Why not someone who is willing to put forth everything they have and meet the needs not wants of the people. I give respect to some lawyers but not all. The office of the mayor is about power not caring. Hartford needs a caring person do be out there every day talking to people not a lawyer who has their own agenda
I echo the concern about lawyers and politics. At this stage in Hartford’s history, what we really need is a candidate with a successful background in business who could become the architect and driver for a plan to attract and retain businesses to Hartford. In parallel, that candidate would also have to tackle the issue of crime and public safety – both of which are deterrents to bringing people back to the city. In recent years, corruption in city hall and an anti-business sensibility has driven businesses and jobs from the city, while raising taxes and cutting services for those left behind.
A strategy to attract and retain business is the only way that Hartford’s decline can be arrested, and such a strategy can only come from someone who understands what it takes to run a successful enterprise.
Lawyers need not apply.