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Op-Ed: Luke Bronin Should be Hartford’s Next Mayor

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Luis Caban

The City of Hartford is just a few months away from deciding who its next Mayor will be.  Now more than ever, Hartford needs a leader that has a clear vision, leadership, and the willingness to do the hard work of managing City Hall.  Hartford needs a leader that will bring energy and competence to City Hall, so that Hartford’s government works for every resident and every neighborhood in Hartford. I strongly believe Luke Bronin is that leader, and it is why he has earned my endorsement to become Hartford’s 67th Mayor.
I make this endorsement as someone who has spent his whole life on the front lines of the struggle for civil rights, and in particular for the empowerment of the Latino community.  How can I support Luke Bronin over the Latino candidate, Pedro Segarra?  Because the quality of any particular political candidate does not depend on the color of his or her skin.  Because I have been disappointed by Mayor Segarra’s record as Mayor.  And because I believe Luke’s vision for Hartford is the right one — for all of our communities.
Luke Bronin has a record of demonstrating a deep commitment to issues that directly impact the Latino community, and to justice more broadly. As the Governor’s top attorney, he helped to ensure that a record number of Latino attorneys became judges. He was a champion of the Second Chance Society bill currently winding its way through the legislature. That bill gives ex-offenders an opportunity to start over, with the support they need to do so. As an official in the Obama Administration, Luke helped to advocate for and pass the Dodd-Frank Act, which protects low-income Americans—including many Latinos—from consumer fraud.
Bronin’s experience in state and federal government is impressive. He’ll use that experience, and all the connections he gained in those positions, to forge better partnerships for the benefit of the City.  And as a former military man myself, I also recognize the value of Luke’s experience in the U.S. Navy, including a deployment to Afghanistan.  For my own part, I learned some of the most valuable leadership lessons in the military.
Like many of you, I am friendly with Mayor Pedro Segarra.  But I have been dismayed at the lack of progress in our neighborhoods during his five years as Mayor.  As the former executive director of the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, I was deeply involved in many of the planning and redevelopment decisions made over the years, including the development of the Learning Corridor.  But City Hall’s commitment to strengthening neighborhoods has waned.
I have also been dismayed by the lack of commitment to building a strong senior leadership team inside City Hall.  City Hall needs a stable, strong, diverse leadership team that is held accountable.
And I have been dismayed at what appears to be a general failure to communicate openly and build strong partnerships.  The Mayor needs to build strong partnerships with our legislative delegation, with City Council, with the Board of Education, and with State Officials.  And the Mayor needs to make himself available to the public for genuine dialogue in order to maintain trust.  Yet in all of those areas, the Mayor has failed to communicate and failed to maintain strong partnerships.
One of the central tenets of Luke’s campaign is a pledge to strengthen our neighborhoods. This is exactly what the Latino community in Hartford needs. For too long, our neighborhood streets have remained littered with vacant lots, and blighted and problem properties.
Luke has pledged to work with and for small businesses by ensuring City departments are responsive and by helping business-owners navigate State programs like the Small Business Express. Small businesses are pillars of community. They create jobs, increase the tax base, improve neighborhood stability and spur other development.
Finally, Luke has demonstrated a clear understanding that education in Hartford is a priority, and that our focus must be on improving our neighborhood schools.
The late Cesar Chavez once said, “Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”  This statement holds true today. It is not enough for our next mayor to invest in big projects like the baseball stadium. Our next mayor must make significant investments in human capital by ensuring our public schools are properly funded.  Unfortunately, I have not seen the commitment to education that I wished to see from Mayor Segarra.  Mayor Segarra’s budget proposal has serious consequences for the Hispanic youth of our city.
Ultimately, the decision in a mayoral election is about who is the best leader for Hartford. I am supporting Luke Bronin as a change agent for good in Hartford city government — so that City Hall starts working, once again, for all of Hartford’s residents and all of Hartford’s neighborhoods.

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