By Kindred Gaynor, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — There is an unprecedented number of black candidates running for mayor of Hartford. Of the six candidates, five of them are men and one is a woman.
The men include State Rep. Brandon McGee, TV entrepreneur J. Stan McCauley, former board of education chairman Craig Stallings, former security guard Andre Thomas, and writer Aaron Lewis. The only female is Giselle Jacobs, a local business woman. All are Democrats.
They are running to replace the current incumbent mayor, Luke Bronin. Bronin current serves as the 67th mayor of a city WalletHub recently called one of the worst-rub cities in America.
The Hartford mayoral candidates have been making their pitches as to why they are the best fit for mayor to fix the unique challenges that beset the capital city.
The forum title was the State of Black Hartford Mayoral Forum and Conversation and went for three hours. The first segment consisted of the audience listening to the candidates, who were interested in getting the audience’s vote of approval to become the next mayor of Hartford. The second and third hours of the forum were designated for question and answers.
Bronin, 37, previously served as general counsel for the Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy before he was elected in 2015. Before that, he served in two senior posts at the United States Department of the Treasury during President Barack Obama’s first term. He also served as Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.
“The next mayor needs to govern the whole city — not just certain neighborhoods. The state has made significant investments in downtown,” Bronin said. “But we need to make sure we’re improving the quality of life in every neighborhood because when neighborhoods thrive, the entire city will thrive.”
Bronin also has a plan to improve employment opportunities for Hartford residents.
“As mayor, I will be out there every day talking, working with businesses big and small — to keep and attract jobs. I’ve also called for the creation of a Youth Service Corps. This partnership between City Hall and the private sector would put hundreds of young people to work in Hartford and provide a real pipeline to employment in the city.”
The first black mayor of Hartford was Thirman Milner, who served two terms from 1981 to 1987. Carrie Saxon Perry was the second black person to serve as mayor from 1987 and 1993. Both served as a largely ceremonial mayor, paid a stipend of $17,500.
Eddie Perez, the first Hispanic mayor from 2001 to 2010, served as the 65th mayor of Hartford. Perez was the first mayor to be the CEO of the city, a strong form of mayor. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to receiving bribes and criminal attempt to commit larceny in the first degree by extortion; both are felonies.
Rep. Brandon L. McGee Jr., a self-described community activist and architect of social solutions for the people of Connecticut, is serving his fourth term representing areas of Windsor and Hartford.
Craig Stallings is a board member and the former chair of the Board of Education. Stallings has been a PTO president at two Hartford schools and was coordinator of the original governance council at Thirman Milner School.
J. Stan McCauley is a television entrepreneur. McCauley ran for Mayor in 2007.
During the forum McCauley said, “Hartford is one of 150 economically distressed cities in the United States. In an E-commerce society the playing field has been leveled for start-up companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs. What we don’t have is intentional focus to help those individuals succeed. I believe that we need to give the same type of incentives to entrepeneurs as we give to multi-million dollar national corporations to move into the city.”
Giselle Jacobs is also an entrepreneur who owns a cleaning company. She ran for mayor in 2015.
Andre Thomas is a relatively new candidate and this forum was his first.
Michael Downes, who is white, is a union organizer with the American Teachers Union.
The election is Nov. 5, and the new council is expected to assume office on Jan. 1. 2020.