I received a phone call a couple weeks ago and the caller asked me if I thought Hartford could ever make a comeback.
My answer was pretty quick and decisive. ABOULUTELY.
In my opinion, there are three major things standing in Hartford's way of making a comeback. Number one is leadership. For probably over a decade Hartford has had some of the worst leadership imaginable, starting most recently with Eddie Perez who was eventually driven from office by the States Attorney and a Grand Jury investigation. Hartford is under the "strong Mayor" form of government. I don't have an issue with a strong Mayor, the problem is Hartford voters have made terrible choices and have been unable to find the right person...yet.
From Eddie Perez to Pedro Segarra to Luke Bronin, all failures in my eyes.
Pedro Segarra was cast into the Mayor's Office by default when Eddie Perez was forced to resign under corruption charges.Then came Luke Bronin, not because he knew or understood Hartford, but because he would make a great puppet to do the political bidding of Hartford's elite who loved controlling political power, such as the DiBellas and others.
Prior to Bronin, I had great hope for retired Probate Judge Bob Killian who ran for the office of Mayor, but there was no way of competing with the Bronin million dollar plus war chest the carpetbagger Bronin had amassed, much of it from outside of Hartford and outside of Connecticut.
I guess even a lousy candidate that very few people knew, can get elected if they are able to buy enough votes. A candidate who probably couldn't have found most neighborhoods or streets in the City without the aid of GPS.
Two other things that need to change are Public Safety and Education. Aside from the Mayor being a failure, both of those are disastrous, No one will move to a City where they don't feel safe, and no parent who has a choice will put their kids into a school system where a decent education is a crap shoot..
I am encouraged as of late because I am starting to hear people talking about the next Mayoral election.. I have been hearing the name of Eric Coleman mentioned. Coleman should be familiar to anyone who has spent more than a few days in Hartford over the last few decades. For most of his adult life, Coleman has been serving the people of Hartford as a State Representative, a State Senator and eventually (and currently) as a Superior Court Judge. Coleman didn't just arrive here with his sights on the Mayor's Office in an attempt to work his way up the political ladder with aspirations of grandeur, or maybe I should say delusions of grandeur like our current Mayor.
I think Coleman has the potential to restore confidence and civility to the Mayor's Office. I also think as current sitting Judge, Coleman has kept his distance from the political influence, That political influence such as the Democratic Town Committee has been one of the major forces in the downfall of Hartford.
If Coleman were to be successful., his first stop after becoming Mayor should be a stop at 253 High Street to hand Chief Thody his termination papers. It will be a tough job to rebuild HPD to the previous levels before Thody decimated the ranks, but it can be done and it has to be done if Hartford is ever going to be safe again.
Another move would be to utilize Hartford's Charter to its full extent and make appointments to the Hartford Board of Education of people that are serious about seeing Hartford's children and their schools excel. The Mayor has the power to appoint the majority of members to the BOE and that should be done with the best people who understand Hartford's Schools and why they have been failing up to this point.
I think Economic Development will also be an issue and it needs to be taken seriously by the next Mayor. Hartford has had far too many false starts when it comes to development and it not only makes the city look bad, it prevents any forward movement. Hartford's Economic development efforts seem to be a hotbed of nepotism ad rewards for political allies rather than any solid efforts.
There will be much more on this in the future , but I hope people will start thinking about Hartford coming back and where they can help with that effort. It can be done and I think Eric Coleman understands what needs to be done. After all of his years serving the people of Hartford, I seriously think he knows what needs to be done