By Kindred Gaynor, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — About 65 Hartford residents on Wednesday had their say at a forum with candidates who are vying for a seat on the city council in the November election.
The two dominant issues discussed at the round-robin style forum for Democratic candidates were lack of employment opportunities for Hartford residents and bulky waste policies. The Democrats are the only ones holding a primary this year on Sept. 10.
At least five incumbent Democrats are seeking re-election.
“Now is the time to fight for a brighter future. I have made hiring local residents as one of my top priorities,” said rJo Winch who is seeking a fourth term on the council. “We are a city with a population of 90 percent minorities. Our government and local businesses should reflect that.”
Winch also believes that residents shouldn’t have to pay to pick up bulky waste.
“The bulk trash ordinance didn’t succeed because there wasn’t an opportunity for a pilot program,” she said.
The forum was held at the downtown branch of the Hartford Public Library and each candidate was given one-minute for opening remarks. Instead of a having a traditional forum where the audience asked questions and the councilmen answered, the audience took part in a unique group style discussion.
There were 12 Democratic candidates in attendance. The Republicans do not have a forum scheduled for this year but they have one individual running for office, Theodore Cannon. Former Republican City Councilman Corey Brinson is also running on the Second Chance Party. Brinson, who served in 2011 after his aunt Veronica Airey-Wilson vacated the seat, was on the council until January 2012.
Dave McDonald is a former board of education member, who served one term on the city council. He is hoping to get another chance to sit on the council. His reason for running, he said, is the acute poverty in the city.
“Unless we address the issue of poverty in the city, we’re not going to see any other problems get resolved or addressed,” McDonald said.
John Gale is a lifelong Hartford resident. Gale currently serving his first four-year term as a councilman and has been practicing law for 42 years in Downtown Hartford.
Nick Lebron is a founding member of Active City, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that Hartford’s young people have access to organized and affordable youth athletic programs.
Eli Mercado is a district sales manager for Frito-Lay North America, Inc. Mercado was raised in the city’s south end to Puerto Rican parents and embodies the traditional first-generation American story.
Maly Rosado was appointed to the City Council in July 2018 to fill the seat vacated by Julio Concepcion. Maly said she plans to focus on women’s issues, criminal justice reform and public safety matters.
Marilyn E. Rossetti has council experience having served on the City Council 20 years ago. Her top three priorities are (but not limited to) employment, housing, and quality of life issues.
James Sanchez is currently on the majority leader on the City Council and works as a technician in the Metropolitan District Commission’s Utilities System Monitoring and Surveillance Department.
Ronald A. Simpson is the Regional manager of the state of Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in the Capitol Region office. Simpson is an ordained Itinerant Elder minister in Hartford where he lives with his wife and three children.
Ronnie E. Walker is a retired Correctional Officer, who devoted 25 years to the state of Connecticut, Department of Corrections. Walker has served as a member of the Democratic Town Committee for the past 6 years.
Ramon Espinoza is a Hartford resident who is committed to the community in many ways. He is a new candidate and is determined to do what’s best for the city of Hartford.
Councilman TJ Clark was elected Court of Common Council in 2015. He chaired the city council until he was replaced in 2018.
Connecticut Working Families’ candidate Mary L. Sanders is seeking to join the council this year. Current Councilmember Wildaliz Bermudez is also a Working Families candidate, who is running for re-election. The CWF is an independent political that “stands up for hard working families across Connecticut.”
Hartford resident Sean Holloway said he hopes the candidates recognize the purpose of serving in government.
“I want the councilmen to understand their full responsibility,” Holloway said. “They are the policy arm of the government. They are present to approve policies, they shouldn’t just rubber stamp.”
The election is Nov. 5, and the new council is expected to assume office on Jan. 1. 2020.