By Robert Cyr
Emmanuel “Manny” Sanchez, 24, wasn’t always where he is now. Raised in Hartford by a single mother, his family struggled and he eventually found himself getting into trouble. But with the help of relatives and his family, he pulled himself up and eventually became the youngest member of the Common Council in New Britain history.
“That saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is the story of my life,” he said. “Although my father was never truly there for us, his parents, my grandparents, his siblings, my aunts and uncles and, my cousins were there every step of the way – from discipline, to love, I was never allowed to slip through the cracks.
At age 22, Sanchez became the youngest member of the city’s Common Council in New Britain when he was unanimously endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee and appointed to fill a vacancy. He was elected to his first full-term a year later, becoming the youngest minority councilman ever elected in the city.
Sanchez’s foray into politics wasn’t out of the blue. He cites his uncle, state Rep. Robert “Bobby” Sanchez, as his motivation. Rep. Sanchez was the first Latino to win a state-level election in New Britain. “I was able to see how passionate he was about helping others and his love for New Britain,” he said. “My main reason for getting involved was that I saw this as an opportunity to advocate my concerns, and tackle issues that hindered the community I live in, and throughout New Britain.”
Sanchez now wears many hats and sits on the Consolidated Sub-Committee and the Planning, Zoning and Housing Sub Committee, while also serving as a liaison to the Board of Education, Youth Services and the Police and Parks and Recreation commissions. He’s also a board member of the Police Athletic League in New Britain.
When he’s not working at Goodwin College as the Employer Relations Coordinator under Career Services, Sanchez spends his free time as head coach of the Connecticut Roughriders, a basketball team that competes throughout the country. “Every person plays a role in their communities,” Sanchez said. “Whether or not that role is big or small, positive or negative, it is up to each and every one of us to determine how we are going to contribute to society. Positive community involvement is our civic responsibility. ‘Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.’
“It is civic duty to contribute to society, and the importance of being involved builds the culture and character of a community. The more hands on deck to make it a better place, the more people will take ownership and pride of where they live and are from.”
By Robert Cyr