Tomas Reyes has been named as Chief of Staff for Mayor-Elect Toni Harp, making him the first Latino to hold that post in New Haven and Latino political leaders around the state are calling the appointment extremely significant because it sends a message about inclusiveness, as well as one that Latinos are moving into new political roles.
Reyes told CTLatinoNews he enthusiastically accepted the appointment, “I have a long time political relationship with Toni Harp; we served on the Board of Alderman together, so I know her, I know her work ethic. That’s why she recruited me. As her Chief of Staff, I will probably be her closest political advisor and I will see that things get done according to her vision and her plan for the city of New Haven, and I look forward to working with the team of leaders she has assembled.”
As for the significance of his appointment as the first Latino Chief of Staff in the Elm City, Reyes said, “I think it’s a symbolic entrance into these types of positions around the state. Juan Figueroa is the Acting Chief of Staff for Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and it shows we’re here; we’ve arrived as community and we are moving into positions of power and authority in communities where there are large numbers of Latinos.”
Reyes added, “Mayor Harp campaigned on a commitment that she would have an administration that actually looked like the community she represents. And that is certainly not lost on me as a Latino. She gets a lot of credit for following through.”
The significance of Reyes’ appointment has apparently also not been lost on the state’s Latino political leadership. Bridgeport’s Town Clerk, Alma Maya, a Democrat, said, “His appointment as chief of staff sends a message that Mayor Harp is being inclusive. We are all glad to see that. This appointment goes a long way in demonstrating she understands Latinos are key to New Haven’s future.” Maya added, “It’s about time; it’s a victory for Latinos as this opens the door for us to the mayor’s office.”
Hartford State Representative Edwin Vargas, Jr, said, “This is extremely significant. New Haven is the second largest city in Connecticut, home to Yale University and a model of ivy league and urban cooperation. And of course, Tomas Reyes is a proven leader. I don’t think there could be no better choice than Tomas Reyes, who loves the Elm City, has deep roots there, has many ties to the community. So beyond his political savvy, he has a strong commitment to city of New Haven.”
As Chief of Staff, the position as the mayor’s top aide, he will oversee City Hall staff and serves as point person for the mayor on both policy and political matters. Reyes had indicated in previous weeks that he would accept the position if offered, and his employer has already agreed to give him a leave of absence. Reyes previously worked with Yale University and served as Chair of the Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus.
Carmen Sierra, Deputy Treasurer of the City of Hartford said of Reyes appointment, “He is a great choice. He has the experience and knowledge of municipal policy and is well connected to all the communities in New Haven, and he understands politics. He will be a great asset to Mayor Harp and I congratulate them both.”
On a broader scale, Sierra said Reyes is a true leader, adding, “Nationally, much has been written about the lack of a national Latino leader. We’ll have to start locally, and this is a great start and a big accomplishment for our community. He’s the first Latino in that position.”
Rep. Angel Arce, (D) Hartford said, “This was well overdue. This man has done so much for New Haven and for Latinos around the state as well, through his work as the President of the Hispanic Democratic Caucus for twelve years. Politically for Latinos this is great. It will open up more doors. Socially it will open our young kid’s eyes, who might look at him and say I want to be like him.”
Joseph Rodriquez, Chair of the Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus said, “It clearly demonstrates Harp’s commitment to our community and to a diverse administration. I tell folks all the time that it’s very important to have Hispanics in positions with access to decision makers. We now will have a Latino in the co-pilot seat, that’s what Reyes will be.”