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Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin on his political future: 'I'm not ruling anything in or out'

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Ryan Caron King
/
WNPR
Luke Bronin talks with supporters after winning the 2015 Democratic primary in Hartford against then-Mayor Pedro Segarra.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin recently announced that when his second term ends in 2023, he will not run for reelection.

Bronin’s supporters praised the Democratic mayor for helping the city navigate financial troubles and a pandemic. But city leaders also hope Bronin will work to bring more development to historically Black neighborhoods in the city during his last year in office.

Bronin, who explored a run for governor before endorsing Democrat Ned Lamont in 2018, told Connecticut Public Radio his political future remains uncertain. But he said he’s feeling healthy and is searching for what’s next.

“I’ve got plenty of time to figure that out,” Bronin said. “I don’t have any plans right now. I’m not ruling anything in or out. That’s not being cagey. I don’t know.”

These interview highlights have been edited and condensed.

On his decision to leave office

It’s not an easy decision. Because I love the work. I love the city of Hartford. But coming into my eighth year, if you do this job right, it’s all-consuming – it’s 24/7. I love that about it. But it also means every one of those years is a long one.

There are a lot of places that have term limits after two terms or eight years. I’m not saying that I think we should. But I think it’s a natural time to take a moment to pause and reflect. And I think it’s good for cities to get new infusions of energy.

On his proudest accomplishment in office

We were able to take a city that was insolvent and facing the biggest fiscal crisis in the city’s history. The way we responded to that fiscal crisis was by building a number of partnerships: our unions, our biggest companies, we asked our residents to come to the table.

We built that important partnership with the state of Connecticut, with our legislative leaders, with the governor. At the same time, we were determined to budget with discipline and rigor, day after day, month after month, year after year. And that’s what we've done.

On his role in the Democratic party going forward

I don’t know. Let me just say ... I’ve been doing public service since 2009, I feel really lucky to have been able to do work that I care about that makes a difference in communities that I care about. And that feels consequential and meaningful. My hope is that I get to keep doing work of that kind in some way or another.

On gun violence in cities; as of mid-November, Hartford recorded more than 30 homicides in 2022

It is devastating to our community to have that level of gun violence and fatal gun violence. And it’s a problem that city after city around the country is seeing. At the national level, we have to get serious about the proliferation of guns. And in particular, the proliferation of guns that are designed to do maximum damage.

Here in the state of Connecticut, I think we have to have a serious conversation about making sure that those individuals who are responsible for gun violence in our community stay out of our community for a good period of time when they are arrested.

On land exempt from property tax crippling urban budgets

In Connecticut, unlike a lot of other states in the country, the only real source of locally generated revenue is the property tax. If you have cities that are geographically small, where you also have an intense concentration of poverty and need – and you then take half of the property tax base and make it nontaxable, you create really challenging structural dynamics.

I believe that Connecticut as a whole needs to have strong cities if we want to have the kind of economic growth we should have as a state. We need to work together to overcome that. Connecticut’s got to rise or fall together. And we should rise together. In the long run, you can’t be a strong suburb of a struggling city.

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. In his 20th year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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