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Supporters say Hartford’s Mayor Bronin led the city competently in a time of crisis

Self-Defense Brigade Anti-Oppression Rally for George Floyd
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin talks to protesters as the Self-Defense Brigade Anti-Oppression Rally for George Floyd blocks Interstate 84 at the Asylum Street exit in Hartford on June 1, 2020.

When Democratic Hartford Mayor Bronin took office, the city was nearly bankrupt, the new minor league baseball stadium was behind schedule and the city’s neighborhoods needed investment.

“I think everyone will remember Luke Bronin for getting the city out of bankruptcy, for leading the city the way he did through the pandemic, you know, the development,” said Maly Rosado, the Democratic city council president.

She’s talking about long-stalled development projects like a library and mixed-use project along Park Street — Hartford’s main commercial thoroughfare in the Latino community.

But not every community has felt that love. Councilman TJ Clarke praised Bronin, but he said the Black community is still waiting on some big projects.

“We need to figure out where a grocery store or grocery stores are going to be placed in North Hartford,” he said. “Because Hartford is a food desert.”

Clarke says he’s optimistic that Bronin will bring some development to historically Black neighborhoods in his last year in office.

Marilyn Rossetti is a Democratic councilwoman with a long Hartford history spanning various city mayors. She says Bronin was a smart, compassionate, tough leader who was both a good listener and communicator. She also says he brought sensitivity — especially when it came to prioritizing men experiencing homelessness during COVID. She runs a men’s shelter called Open Hearth.

“When you have a leader that makes a community that’s usually overlooked, dismissed, asked last, given nothing, made a priority, that says something about how you think,” Rossetti said. “And I think that’s an important thing to remember.”

In his announcement Tuesday, Bronin simply said it was time to move on.

“I’m really proud of that work, and I’m thankful for the chance to do it, but today as I approach my eighth year as mayor, I announce that I will not be seeking a third term,” Bronin said. “The work is never done. The most we can hope for is to do the work well and to pass the baton.”

Democrats have long held Hartford’s levers of power. Their nominating process for a successor ramps up next year. Former legislator and judge Eric Coleman has already announced he plans to run.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

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