July 3, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 10:45 PM GMT
One can never get enough of Mayor Mike Peters.
Mayor Mike and I have never seen eye-to-eye, from the time I first started covering Hartford for the Advocate almost 10 years ago.
But a few weeks ago, Mayor Mike openly criticized the paranoid, post-9/11 Mayor Eddie Perez for having locks on the door of the Mayor's Office.
I couldn't agree with Mayor Mike more, and I am heartened that he brought that into the public debate.
Having determined that from dozens of reasons, Mayor Perez lacks the requisite skills and finesse to lead the city of Hartford, selecting a replacement stands before voters as a choice between the lesser of eight evils.
However, I must admit, that I am not as certain as Mayor Mike that I. Charles Mathews is the man to lead Hartford into the next decade.
Since the fantastic “None of the Above” option does not exist to send our local electorate back to the drawing board, Hartfordites must weigh the talents and faults of each candidate.
I respect all the candidates for trying, and while this may seem like a harsh and cynical sideline analysis, it is an exercise in brevity to eliminate some candidates. This analysis of all candidates will continue for the next few weeks.
While I hate to do this, because I strongly advocate for youth rights, Raul DeJesus, the young police officer candidate, at 20 years old is too young to run a city this size. His admirable ambition cannot offset the imbalance of platitudes to significant policy suggestions on his website.
My admittedly short conversation a few months back with Raul impressed upon me his intelligence, drive, and a leadership qualities, but it didn’t engender tons of confidence in his capacity to handle the stressful political reality of a fractured city.
He should take a stab at City Council first. We need fresh blood (read: not the son of the former Speaker of the House) to replace Bob Painter. (Aside to Bob: Farewell, we’ll miss you! Have fun in retirement! Thanks for the great work you did! May the road rise with you.)
Rev. Patrice Smith may be a great community voice for non-violence, but she doesn’t even have a website. And last summer, she showed questionable project management skills when she hired city youth to clean litter, but then lacked the money to pay them.
The situation made the Courant, where she claimed that financiers reneged on their promises. But when you lead a project, like the president's desk said, "The Buck Stops Here." We can't afford to see that happen with a $450 million budget.
Plus, I really don’t want to see an ordained minister in office - the separation of church and state demands enumeration in this fundamentalist Bush climate. That rationale provides one strike against Republican J. Stan McCauley, who has proselytized his Christian views on television for years.
But he ardently told me Christianity wouldn’t dominate his political agenda, and I tend to believe him. I have known Stan for at least six years, and worked closely with him on at least one significant project at Hartford Public Access Television.
While Stan is among the better choices, because of his communication and management skills and policy ideas, I have reservations about his political acumen and his ability to build consensus.
From his perch at HPATV, he has proven himself an able defender of free speech, yet lately the board of directors there has questioned his ability to manage the three stations, as questions of nepotism and favoritism circulate the hallowed halls of HPATV.
I interviewed Stan on HPATV this spring, although not about the troubles between him and the HPATV board. He handled my barrage of questions well. Yet the interview revealed to me the difficulties he faces in balancing the demands of a running a partisan campaign while managing a non-partisan non-profit.
It is a tight rope that I would be deeply concerned about if I were on the board of directors there, and projecting a hypothetical crisis like that on a city-wide scale leaves me nervous. His website is impressive, with an extensive library of video clips, and a more developed platform statement than DeJesus or Minnie Gonzalez.
His platform deserves deeper analysis in the future, as part of the ongoing discussion of this campaign. While he deserves the benefit of the doubt, the paltry Republican establishment here in Hartford won’t support him, and I don't think he has the grassroots support to win the votes on Election Day.
That shouldn’t be a consideration, but his message has to motivate volunteers, so his main challenge is reaching 10,000 voters. I don’t see he has the organization to do so, especially when the hit counters on his website pages read only “70” or “83.”
Minnie Gonzalez is a mediocre state representative who doesn't have the skill set to lead the city towards a vision she has yet to describe. She has a small political machine, but she has never been seen as a uniting presence, particularly with her consistent votes against the lost and stolen firearms bill.
Minnie’s minimalist website minniegonzalezmayor.com promises that “Minnie Listens. Minnie Cares. Minnie Delivers.” Her critiques of Perez are limited to news reports. Great.
Ostensibly, she is in it to win, but on a gut level, I feel like she may just be in it to split Perez's Puerto Rican vote and help usher him out because of the bad blood between them. This is a safe bet for her, because she doesn't endanger her position in the clubby state legislature by running for local office in an odd year.
Some candidates need more sussing out, especially when we consider second acts in politics, and I'll get into that next week. And thankfully (and sadly – because he provided such great material for a young reporter), I don’t think Mayor Mike is one of those individuals trying to resurrect his political career.