Tag Archive | "Edwin Vargas"

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Hartford Mayoral Candidate Edwin Vargas Says He’s “A Mayor For Us”

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — As far as Edwin Vargas is concerned, he is the people’s choice to be Hartford’s next mayor.

His rational for such a pronouncement is that, among other things, he collected 3,000 signatures to be the challenger to the endorsed Democratic candidate, Mayor Pedro Segarra.

Vargas, 61, only needed 1,600 verified signatures to be placed on Row B for Tuesday’s Democratic primary in which two Puerto Ricans will vie to be the city’s top Democrat–a historic marker in the city’s history.

“[Segarra] has the endorsement of [51] town committee members, and many of them are employed by the Mayor,” said Vargas, who garnered only 6 votes in July. “I have the endorsement of the rank and file Democrats.”

The city stopped counting signatures after 1,952.

Vargas has a long history in politics. He was chairman of the Democratic Town Committee and the president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers. In addition, he was a community organizer after he moved to the city almost 40 years ago from Bronx, New York, where he was born. He and his wife worked as teachers in the Hartford Public School system for 35 years. In addition, Vargas was a foot soldier in the 1960s social movements in Hartford. Now, he bills himself as “a mayor for us.”

So what does that mean?

He wants to be “a mayor for all of Hartford, not just the politically connected.”

“If you’re not politically connected, “ Vargas said. “City Hall doesn’t work for you.”

He points to the mayor himself to show just how connected Segarra has been.

Segarra took the helm when former three-term mayor, Eddie Perez, was convicted of five counts of felony in June 2010. His ascent to his current position, Vargas said, has been an impressive series of luck.

In 1991, the city council appointed Segarra as corporation council. He was appointed for three consecutive terms. Before Segarra won on the democratically endorsed slate in 2007, former mayor Perez appointed him to the council in 2006 after former councilman Heman Lafontaine resigned.  Before Calixo Torres, a Perez ally, resigned in 2010, he helped finagled Segarra’s move to be council president, Vargas said. In 2010, a city charter provision appointed Segarra the mayor’s successor.

“None of the positions he has is by a vote of confidence from the people,” Vargas said. “He’s been handed everything on a silver platter.”

This is probably why “the city has been on auto-pilot” since Segarra took the helm in 2010, which now seems like a distant memory, said Jorge Cabrera, Vargas’ campaign manager.

But when asked what they expected Segarra to do as mayor in one year, Vargas fired back and said the city needs someone with “hands-on” leadership.

Segarra assumed the role as strong mayor but acted as a weak mayor, they said, because the city is now run by bureaucrats, instead of having someone with dynamic leadership involved in the solution to many of the city’s problems.

Vargas asked: “How can you solve a problem if you are saying everything is ok? Do you see those press releases he keeps sending out? You can’t solve problems if you don’t acknowledge them.”

Besides hands on leadership, Vargas said he offers real solutions to help small businesses and the youth with government accountability. It’s an interconnected strategy to the complex problems the city faces, he said.

In addition, Vargas points out that Segarra has a long history at city hall. Segarra was chairman of the city’s Office of Management and Budget since 2006 and has raised taxes.

“That’s a powerful position on the council,” Vargas said. “As OMB chair and council president, he wasn’t the mayor’s employee. Now he’s acting like he arrived 12 months ago.”

Vargas said he feels confident he’s going to win the primary because he has support from grass root organizations, especially from the black churches. Moreover, the Hartford Federation of Teachers endorsed him.

When asked about the string of endorsements Segarra has garnered, including that of Gov. Dan Malloy, Vargas pointed out that those endorsements are there because Segarra is the incumbent and those politicians have to work with him.  He said he supported Malloy as a gubernatorial candidate, while Segarra supported Ned Lamont.  In addition, Vargas said, he was the statewide coordinator for the “Latinos for Obama” campaign and doesn’t remember seeing Segarra as an early Obama supporter.

So, Vargas theorizes, he too would have a good relationship with state and federal politicians.

Well, on Sept 13  voters will have their say about which mayoral candidate has a better relationship with them.



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Edwin Vargas Wins Hartford Mayoral Poll, Dennis House Named

By Maria Lopez, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — In what might be a hint of the political landscape in Hartford,  Democratic Mayoral Candidate Edwin Vargas won The Hartford Guardian’s Readers Poll in May, and surprisingly competed against an undeclared city resident: WFSB’s Dennis House.

Of the 70 votes,former union leader Vargas won 71 percent, or 49 votes.(Click photo to enlarge.)

Incumbent Mayor Pedro Segarra garnered 9 percent, or 6 votes.

Local businessman Stan McCauley captured 6 percent, or 4 votes.

And Shawn Wooden, a lawyer, gleaned a mere 4 percent, or 3 votes.

One vote, not shown, was for Hartford City Councilman Luis Cotto.

House, whose name was written in on the poll, garnered 10 percent, or 7 votes.

Although this poll was unscientific, it revealed this much: Vargas is leaving no proverbial stone unturned as he heads into the late summer of revved up political campaigns. And it also showed he has the most volunteers, or supporters who cared enough, to ensure his victory on a hyper-local news site.

After the McCauley camp protest what they perceived as a “skewered” poll, an anonymous commentator on The Guardian’s poll had this to say about the political landscape: “It’s pretty clear, that this is how it stands: Mayor Segarra—front runner, slipping though. Shawn Wooden—rising fast, but uncharismatic. Edwin Vargas. True test is the next fundraising quarter. McCauley, I’d be shocked if J. Stan garnered more than 5 percent of the vote in September.”

Prenzina Holloway, a longtime political activist and city resident, theorized about the the early campaign season.

“Vargas is connecting with all kinds of people,” she said. “Some of these lawyers only pay attention to big fish.”

In addition to connecting, the poll also reflected Vargas’s growing and effective presence with social media. For example, his fan page has 145 likes, as opposed to Segarra’s fan page, which has 67 likes early Wednesday.

Segarra’s Facebook friends recently passed 1,000, though. But getting them to like the page is another matter.

Likes on fan pages will not put a wrinkle on anyone’s forehead, some say. Experts say people usually pay attention to the political landscape after the July 4 holiday.

But for Vargas, it seemed, every day, everyone and everything leading to the September Democratic primary is crucial. He actively plugged The Guardian’s poll on his fan page and circulated the news among his volunteers. Consequently, he netted the most votes and bragging rights as the mayoral candidate that connected with people deeply engaged in Hartford’s political arena–so much so that they paid attention to early readers’ poll.

And for Vargas, no poll is inconsequential.

Vargas will be among the four Democratic mayoral candidates debating the issues Wednesday at Hartford Public Library. The debate is set for 6: 00 p.m. to 7: 30 p.m.


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Edwin Vargas Kicks Off Mayoral Campaign

HARTFORD — Edwin Vargas Jr. is the fourth city resident to announce his mayoral bid for the 2012 election.

At Shop Fare Supermarket on Maples Street, about a dozen supporters and onlookers surrounded Vargas on Friday as he officially kicked off his candidacy.

“I’ve been in the community, Vargas said at a gathering at Jesse’s Bar on Broad Street. “I have a lot of support.”

Vargas, 61, is a long-time educator and community activist, having taught for more than three decades. He then became president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers.

He has also served as president of the Greater Hartford Labor Council AFL-CIO, president of the Puerto Rican PAC, and chair of Hartford Democratic Party.

Last year, Vargas challenged incumbent state Sen. John Fonfara, 54, for the 1st Senate District seat in the August primary. The district represents Hartford’s South End and parts of Wethersfield.

Ed Vargas, Jr. confers with onlookers at gathering at Jesse's

Vargas carried Hartford but not Wethersfield.

Vargas has had his eye on Fonfara’s seat for sometime and was gearing up to make another bid–if Fonfara had resigned to accept another prize: Department of Public Utilities Commissioner in Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration. Malloy offered that job to someone else.

And that door was closed for Vargas again, so he jumped into the mayoral race.

But this time, Vargas said, he has enough support in Hartford to put up a robust mayoral bid.

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