Luke Bronin, former legal counsel to Governor Dannel Malloy, is officially entering the race for mayor of the city of Hartford.
Bronin said he's planning to file his paperwork with the city on Wednesday.
In a letter to residents posted on his website, Bronin said the city has its strengths: cultural diversity and creativity, the support of the governor, and new state-supported development projects.
Bronin then went on to discuss a series of challenges under Mayor Pedro Segarra. He said the city has ignored its main arteries; taxes are too high; the city hasn't engaged its companies; jobs don't pay living wages; and the city hasn't been an active player in major, state-wide policy discussions like property tax reform.
"I think we need to get city hall working more effectively, and we need to get city hall working for everybody in Hartford," Bronin said in an interview.
Bronin, 35, is married with children and first came to the city in 2006. His potential run for mayor is something that's been talked about for a while. He's a New York native, a graduate of Yale University, Yale Law School, and is a Rhodes Scholar. It's a resume that already got a passing mention from Segarra when he announced his candidacy last week.
"I think that it not only takes intelligence," Segarra said of being mayor. "It takes someone who has a special human rapport with individuals to be able to make things happen."
Segarra also took a pre-emptive shot at a candidacy by a newcomer like Bronin.
"That's the measure by which people are going to be judged. What have you done for our city? Where have you been in terms of our city in the past? What can you produce?" Segarra said at his own announcement. "And I think, on all of those grounds, I'm very confident that the answer is that Pedro Segarra is the best suited to have another four years at Hartford City Hall."
Bronin said, though, that residents shouldn't vote for mayor based on the candidate's time in the city.
"If people vote for the mayor based on how many years they've lived in the city, then they may not vote for me," Bronin told WNPR. "I hope that people vote for mayor based on who they think can best do the job, who can best secure the city's future, and can best take advantage of the opportunities that we're going to have over the next few years."
If elected, Bronin said he'll focus, among other things, on economic development outside of downtown Hartford.
"The city, from my perspective, hasn't spent enough time focusing on our neighborhoods and focusing on economic development on our main corridors," Bronin said. "From Franklin to Farmington, and Albany to North Main, I think we need a broader-based economic development strategy."
Bronin, who is white, says he has the support of prominent African American Democrats in the city, something he'll need if he wants to unseat a sitting Latino mayor.
In an interview, Bronin said there are already things he would change about how the city spends its money. He says Hartford hires far too many consultants, that the city and the board of education have too many duplicative functions.
"By showing that we are being trustworthy, strong stewards of taxpayer dollars, I think it will allow us to go to the state and make a case that we need more help and allow us to make that case much more effectively," he said.
Asked his views on Segarra's plan to build a minor league baseball stadium just north of downtown, Bronin said he wouldn't have support what was originally proposed -- a city-financed, standalone stadium. He called it "bad policy developed by a bad process."
Now, Bronin said, he wants to make sure that the developers build what they've promised.
"I'm supportive of developing the area with private financing, and I hope that the deal can be done in a way that ensures the whole development is done so we're not left with another Adriaen's Landing situation," he said, referring to the years of vacancy that followed the development at Front Street.
Lastly, Bronin said he hasn't asked -- and won't ask -- Malloy, his former boss, for his support.
Full press releases from Bronin and Segarra follow.
LUKE BRONIN LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR MAYOR
Pledges to Bring Leadership, Accountability, and Action to Hartford City Hall
(HARTFORD, CT) — In an open letter to city residents, Luke Bronin today announced that he is running to be Hartford’s next mayor.
“Our city stands at a moment of opportunity and promise,” writes Luke. “But we also face tremendous challenges, and we’ve let too many opportunities slip away.
“What we need is a mayor who gets down into the messy details of governing day after day, who constantly demands the best from the team at City Hall, and who holds people accountable. We need leadership, accountability, and action.”
In addition to the letter, Luke rolled out three areas of immediate focus for the campaign:
Growing Jobs: “Increasing economic opportunities for Hartford residents should be the single most important priority for any elected official in Hartford. Jobs are the key to everything that matters in Hartford — making our streets safer, making our neighborhoods stronger, and growing our tax base.”
Strengthening Our Neighborhoods: “Each of our major avenues and streets — from Albany to Franklin, North Main to Farmington, Blue Hills to Wethersfield — has a rich history as a center of commerce and community. These avenues are arteries that connect us to the region. As Mayor, I would prioritize revitalizing these streets and supporting the small businesses that make them thrive.”
Closing the Achievement Gap: “Today, Hartford is at a crossroads when it comes to education. For thousands of Hartford’s kids, magnet schools have created opportunities that weren’t there ten or fifteen years ago. But we’ve also created a two-tiered system, where too many children are in schools that haven’t gotten the attention or investment they deserve. Hartford’s children deserve better. We must focus on making our neighborhood schools institutions of opportunity.”
Luke also pledged to run a campaign based on an open and sustained dialogue with Hartford residents.
“Over the next ten months, I’m going to talk with as many fellow Hartford residents as possible — knocking on doors, meeting with groups at people’s homes or in community centers, and making phone calls.”
Steve Harris, the spokesperson for the 5th District Democratic Town Committee, applauded Luke’s decision:
“It’s encouraging to see new, energetic leadership emerging in Hartford, and I'm glad to see Luke stepping up. I've worked with Luke while he was the Governor's counsel, and I think he's someone who listens and responds and will try to make the kind of change we need for our community.”
Celestino Jimenez, a member of the 3rd District Town Committee and the Democratic State Central Committee, said today:
“This election can't be about one community versus another — it’s got to be about what’s best for Hartford and about who is the best person to make city hall run effectively. The reason I’m supporting Luke is simple: I think he’s the right person for the job.”
“I like Luke!,” said Ellen Nurse, the spokesperson for the 4th District Democratic Town Committee. “I’ve known him for ten years, and he’s the right candidate at the right time for Hartford. If you’ve got a strong mayor form of government, you need a strong mayor who’s ready to make tough decisions and follow through, and I think that’s the kind of Mayor Luke will be."
“I’ve spoken with a number of potential candidates for Mayor, and I’ve spoken with a lot of residents in the seventh district and elsewhere, and I’ve come to two conclusions: First, people believe we need a change in Hartford. Second, people who’ve had a chance to talk with Luke like him, trust him, and believe that he can do the job. And so do I,” said Lou Watkins, member of the 7th District Democratic Town Committee.
The campaign also launched a website where residents can learn more about Luke, and Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Those interested in seeing Luke on the trail can sign up for email alerts, or follow the campaign’s social media to learn when Luke will be in their neighborhood. Luke Bronin is currently a partner at Hinckley Allen & Snyder LLP. He most recently served as the General Counsel to Governor Dan Malloy and also served in senior positions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan.
In an effort to drive home his accessibility, Luke took an additional step: “In the meantime, if you haven’t heard from me yet, please feel free to reach out to me. Few candidates give out their personal cell phone number. But here’s mine: 860-929-1185.”
Segarra Campaign Responds to Announcement Mayor
Says the Voters of Hartford Will Be the Ultimate Judge
HARTFORD, CT- Mayor Pedro Segarra’s campaign for re-election responded today to inquiries regarding the announcement from Luke Bronin of his intent to run for Mayor of Hartford.
“I welcome other candidates into the race, as that is part of the democratic process,” said Mayor Segarra. “I am very proud of my record and the tremendous optimism and momentum in our city today. I have a consistent record of service and a deep commitment to our city, and the significant progress we have made together in transforming Hartford in the past five years is very evident. This city made a difference in my life, and I intend to keep our progress moving forward to do the same for residents all across Hartford.”
Mayor Segarra announced his candidacy on January 5 outside City Hall to a large, enthusiastic crowd of supporters. He spoke of graduation rates that have increased to over 70% from under 30% when he took office; the lowest crime rates in decades – including new numbers that show violent crime is down 30% since 2011; blight reduction programs that have begun to transform neighborhoods; and of attracting more businesses to open their doors, expand, and relocate here than ever before.
“We fully expected others to jump into the race. We are building a superb campaign operation and are prepared to engage voters and make the case for another term,” stated Mayor Segarra’s campaign manager, Patrick Romano. “The burden of proof for a change in leadership, especially now with all the progress that has been achieved, falls heavily on our opponents. In the end, this election will be about the people of Hartford and nobody in this race understands what matters most to the people of Hartford than Pedro Segarra.”
Mayor Segarra’s campaign will focus on the progress made and the direction the city is headed in the years ahead.
“Let’s not forget that just five years ago, when I first took over this job, people were not lining up to be Mayor,” said Mayor Segarra. “Now, businesses and new residents are moving into Hartford, there’s a new sense of optimism, and now it seems candidates for Mayor are lining up, too. That’s a reflection of the transformation of the city, and what we have achieved during the past five years. But the bottom line is each candidate will have to answer to the voters and make the case for what they have done for the city, what they have committed to the city over the years, and how they have participated. Ultimately the voters will be the judge. I am confident that I have earned their support.”