Gerry Pleasent, one of the Republican candidates running for Hartford City Council, urged the city’s mostly Democratic voters to remember to vote for the candidate and not their party when they go to the polls in November.
In a face-to-face interview at the State Capitol on Monday, he said if they vote for the candidate, they will be voting to give Hartford “a more promising and brighter future” in an election many have described as pivotal.
Pleasent, a former deputy police chief who retired in 2000, said he believes his police background makes him uniquely qualified for one of the nine council seats.
In order to move forward, he said, Hartford needs to get a handle on crime. It starts with enforcing traffic violations. “I don’t assume because the light is green it’s safe to go,” Pleasent said.
He said with increased traffic enforcement police will inevitably be able to catch more people for things other than traffic violations. He said you start pulling more people over and you start picking up people with weapons and outstanding warrants.
In addition to increasing traffic enforcement, he said the police also need to improve their response time.
He said last week Hartford’s response time to priority A calls, which are the most serious 911 calls, was 7.8-minutes. He said when he was there just seven years go they were doing about 6-minutes. He said the current response time for priority B calls was 32-minutes and priority C calls was 52-minutes.
He said increasing the police department to 500 strong would be a start and should be a priority for the next council and mayor.
Another priority should be attracting new business and giving ex-convicts a new start by helping them obtain employment, Pleasent said. He said for those that have a criminal record and can’t get a job the city could help by opening up a folder, with their permission, that gives employers more information about them than just the fact they may have committed a crime.
Pleasent said he couldn’t comment on how Mayor Eddie Perez is doing at attracting business downtown because he’s not there in the mayor’s office to see what’s happening.
While he was hesitant to criticize Perez and the Democrats, he did say he thinks there should be some facsimile of Republican representation on the council to help the city move forward. Pleasent is running on a slate with six other candidates including incumbent Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson, Michael J. Lupo, a former school board member; Michael McGarry, a former city councilman; Kevin Carroll, a local lawyer; and John Lupo Jr., a former member of the Hartford Redevelopment Agency. Republican Councilman Robert Painter is not seeking re-election.
Voters will be able to vote for six of the nine council seats, which means the Democrats will not be able to win all nine of the council seats.
Based on the state’s minority representation rule, the six Republicans and three Working Family Party candidates will be left to duke it out for the three remaining seats.
But wait that’s not it. Let’s not forget about the six reform slate candidates left out of the Democratic primary because they circulated petitions for their own slate, in addition to Minnie Gonzales’ race for mayor. The reform slate is a group of candidates from across the city that aren’t beholden to any one mayoral candidate. The slate includes: Andrea Comer, Eric Crawford, Maria Diaz, David Morin, Paulo Mozzicato, and Beatriz Ramon.