Coleman announcement
Eric D. Coleman announces his plan to run for Hartford mayor at the Artist’s Collective on Albany Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. Credit: Doug Hardy / CTNewsJunkie

Citing recent gun violence in Hartford, retired judge and former state Senator Eric D. Coleman announced a bid for the Hartford mayor’s office Wednesday. 

Coleman, who said he resigned his position as a trial judge referee and recently moved to Hartford, said he had planned to run for mayor next year regardless of Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin’s plans. Bronin announced he would not seek a third term on Tuesday.

“Hartford is in need of a mayor who is going to focus all of his time, energy, effort, and attention on being the mayor of Hartford. I submit to you that I am that guy,” Coleman said at the Artist’s Collective in the north end of the city on Wednesday.

He said some have suggested that at 71 he’s already enjoyed a long and prestigious career in public service.

“At this point in my life I should rest on my laurels, just relax take it easy, play elder statesman and perhaps travel with Mrs. Coleman. I don’t mind the travel with Mrs. Coleman part and I’m sure all the rest of it would be appealing for many. However, I guess I’m just different. Especially when out-of-control gun violence and other challenges are confronting Hartford, you’re neither content or comfortable with merely spectating,” Coleman said. 

As a state senator for many years representing Bloomfield and parts of Hartford, Coleman helped lead the repeal of the death penalty and played a role in diversifying the judicial bench.

“Our legacy has and always will be trying to make a difference for as many as we can, as long as we can,” Coleman said. 

Coleman said the city, which has seen 38 homicides this year alone, needs to look at solutions to the violence. He suggested studying the Advance Peace initiative in Richmond, California, which pays a stipend to those at the center of violence to be change agents in their communities, working on the streets to prevent conflicts from escalating to gunfire.

Coleman announcement
The room was crowded at the Artist’s Collective on Albany Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut, as Eric D. Coleman announced his plan to run for Hartford mayor Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. Credit: Doug Hardy / CTNewsJunkie

“I’m ready to try whatever will work in Hartford,” Coleman said. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Hartford cracked the code and made a decline in senseless gun deaths?”

It’s part of the reason he’s running.

“Every time I hear about a news report about another shooting taking place in Hartford it’s just hard to sit back and listen and hear that,” Coleman said. “I’m thinking too often I wish I was in a position to do this, that, and the other thing.”

Coleman, who is black, also wants to be an inspiration to young people. He pointed out that all of Connecticut’s major cities are run by white men.

“I don’t want young people who look like me, or brown people, to get the idea that they’re not eligible to do this,” Coleman said.

As far as economic development in the city, Coleman said there’s more that needs to be done, and he’s not on board with some of the proposals currently being pursued by the Bronin administration, including the shutdown of Brainard Airport with the hopes it would be redeveloped.

Coleman said he’s currently looking at the proposal, but has concerns about closing the airport and the extent of environmental remediation that would be needed.

“One of the corporations that uses Brainard is Travelers, who have been stalwarts to this city,” Coleman said. “What’s the real motivation for wanting to develop Brainard Airport?”

He said if the environmental remediation can’t be done and the airport has already shut down, then the land might be used to expand the footprint of the Metropolitan District Commission, which is the regional water and sewer agency.

He said he’s still looking into the issue.

Coleman announcement
Eric D. Coleman announces his plan to run for Hartford mayor at the Artist’s Collective on Albany Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. Credit: Doug Hardy / CTNewsJunkie