In a move to stabilize his mayoral campaign, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra today announced two new key members to his re-election campaign, both of whom are well known to the Hartford community with deep roots in the city. Both appointees signal Segarra’s efforts to regain the top spot in the contentious Hartford mayoral race.
The first is the transition of Juan A. Figueroa, who is taking a leave of absence from his post as Chief of Staff to become Mayor Segarra to chair his campaign in two weeks.
Segarra, who has had to dismiss two campaign managers in the past month, said his appointment of Figueroa signals his determination to win another term. Figueroa said, “The mayor is extremely serious about his re-election campaign and being able to finish the job. I believe in his leadership and I believe in his ability to continue transforming our city into one of the best capital cities in the country.”
Segarra also appointed long time Hartfordite, former FOX CT reporter Shelly Sindland, who will be joining the campaign as Director of Communications. Sindland worked in Hartford for 15 years as a journalist and has deep connections to the city. Her family is from Hartford and she said, “I am deeply connected to this city. I love Hartford and I am so impressed with the changes I have seen here since my reporting days. Hartford is heading in the right direction and Mayor Segarra is leading the way. I am honored to be working with him on his re-election campaign.”
Figueroa is a lifelong advocate of Hartford with a successful background in law, policy and civil rights at the national, state and
local levels. He is a former Connecticut state legislator representing Hartford’s Third Assembly District, and was an Assistant Attorney General and staff attorney for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, before being elected to public office. He is also a former gubernatorial candidate and President of the Universal Health Care Foundation, which initiated universal health care in the state.
Figueroa said, “Mayor Segarra cares deeply about Hartford and his leadership is bringing solid results. The substantial accomplishments and tangible momentum we see across the city will be the renewed focus of our campaign.”
Segarra also plans to name a campaign manager, Sindland said. The position has been vacant since mid-March when
the mayor dismissed two managers after a series of miscues in the campaign and questionable statements on Twitter surfaced.
At least two people are taking aim at grabbing the Democratic nomination for mayor from Segarra, who has held the job since 2010. The field is lead by Luke Bronin, who recently was chief council to Governor Malloy and on Monday jumped on the Segarra administration for doing “exactly nothing” to try to prevent corporate giant UTC from moving its headquarters from the city to Farmington.
Bronin responded to the Segarra announcement with the following statement: “This campaign is not about who the campaign manager or spokesperson is. It about the candidates. I hope we can now focus on issues that matter to the residents of Hartford.”
John Q. Gale, a local attorney who serves on the Democratic Town Committee, is also seeking the Democratic nomination. Joel Cruz Jr., a member of the City Council, also has announced he is running on the Working Families Party ticket.
In Mid-March, Segarra replaced campaign manager Patrick Romano, a Californian who heads a New Haven-based political consulting firm, with Michael T. Beckendorf, an experienced political operative from Washington, D.C., after the mayor had to backtrack on several campaign statements regarding Bronin’s voting record and the city’s dropout rate.
Less than four days later, Beckendorf was gone after Twitter postings he allegedly made a few years earlier surfaced.
Segarra has been endorsed by the state’s Hispanic Democratic Caucus, which includes two of Hartford’s state representatives Minnie Gonzalez and Edwin Vargas.
On this latest move in the Segarra camp, Vargas said, “The nominating convention is not until July, so I believe Pedro Segarra is doing the right thing in getting his organization in order early, this way any corrections that needed to be made could be made before we get into the thick of the campaign,” he said.
Long time Hartford activist Millie Arceniegas said ” I don’t know where he is going with this; this is his third campaign manager. I hope this is the last organizational move. He is looking for someone he can trust. I do hope he can move on and he can concentrate on bigger issues.”
According to the Segarra press release on the two new appointees, Chris Ostop, executive vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) told The Hartford Courant that, “For the first time in more than a decade, Hartford is on the radar screen of many investors nationally,” pointing out that the number of major office buildings changing hands downtown reflects the “attractiveness of the market” due to the number of projects underway, including construction of new apartments and the Downtown North project, which includes a minor league baseball stadium.