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Hartford's mayor-elect wants to lead a diverse, transparent transition into office

Hartford mayor-elect Arunan Arulampalam talks with Andréa Comer after Arulampalam announced that Comer, along with State Rep. Matt Ritter and Jay Williams President, Hartford Foundation of Public Giving, will be his transition team in preparation for Jan. 1, when he officially takes office. (Mark Mirko/Connecticut Public)
Mark Mirko
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Connecticut Public
Hartford mayor-elect Arunan Arulampalam meets with Andréa Comer after Arulampalam announced that Comer, who is chief of staff for the Office of the State Treasurer, would be part of the Arulampalam transition team along with State Rep. Matt Ritter and Jay Williams, president of Hartford Foundation of Public Giving.

The newly elected mayor of Hartford, Arunan Arulampalam, announced his picks to lead his transition into office at his first press conference held at City Hall the morning after his victory.

“We need our Latino community, we need our African American, West Indian community, we need every piece of the city to see greater opportunity,” Arulampalam said. “Great opportunity to start small businesses, to have homes and quality housing, to have a quality education system.”

He said he will reach out to community leaders who represent the diversity of the city to help address their needs.

“We are too small to be divided because we will rise or fall together,” he said.

Jay Williams (middle), president of the Hartford Foundation of Public Giving, stands with outgoing Hartford mayor Luke Bronin (left) during a press conference in which Arunan Arulampalam announced his transition team will comprise Williams, State Rep. John Ritter and Andréa Comer, Chief of Staff for the Office of the State Treasurer.
Mark Mirko/Mark Mirko
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Connecticut Public
Jay Williams (middle), president of the Hartford Foundation of Public Giving, stands with outgoing Hartford mayor Luke Bronin (left) during a press conference in which Arunan Arulampalam announced his transition team will include Williams, State Rep. Matt Ritter and Andréa Comer, Chief of Staff for the Office of the State Treasurer.

Arulampalam tapped for his transition team Connecticut Speaker of the House Matt Ritter, as well as Jay Williams, president and CEO of the Hartford Foundation, and Andrea Comer, chief of staff at the state treasurer's office. He also announced the launch of a website to inform the public about the new administration's transition.

Ritter said he will help "get things up and running" for Jan. 1. The other candidates who ran for Mayor could be involved too, he said, even though they lost the election.

"That doesn't mean that they don't have a role. I think the most important thing is it's a four-year government now,” Ritter said. “If you are gonna spend your entire four years fighting, then we're not moving forward as a team. Unfortunately for Hartford, we don't have the luxury to fight about yesterday. We have to think about tomorrow."

The 38-year-old Arulampalam faced criticism from his opponents in the mayoral race for his relative lack of experience in government, and background leading the Hartford Land Bank.

But throughout his campaign, Arulampalam said he engaged in conversations with residents and plans to continue doing it for the next four years. He emphasized his focus on addressing issues such as affordable housing and creating safe spaces for the youth with the help of his team.

Outgoing mayor Luke Bronin, who decided not to run for re-election this year, congratulated Arulampalam and offered to assist the new team for a smooth transition.

After a press conference in which he announced his transition team, mayor-elect Arunan Arulampalam shakes hands with Harford CFO Leigh Ann Ralls before Arulampalam went into the mayor’s office with outgoing mayor Luke Bronin (left).
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
After a press conference in which he announced his transition team, mayor-elect Arunan Arulampalam shakes hands with Harford CFO Leigh Ann Ralls before Arulampalam went into the mayor’s office with outgoing mayor Luke Bronin (left).

“And over the next, I think it's 52 days, we're going to do everything we can to make sure that this transition is as smooth as possible and that the partnership is as full as possible,” Bronin said. “We [want to] make sure that when the clock strikes midnight on January 1 the new team comes in, in as strong a position as possible to keep the work going and move this forward.”

Arulampalam promised to announce additional team members in the following days.

Note: Arunan Arulampalam's father-in-law is Gregory B. Butler, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Connecticut Public.

Correction: An earlier version of a photo caption listed an incorrect first name of a member of the Arulampalam transition team. It is Matt Ritter, not John Ritter.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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