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Looking back and looking ahead: Outgoing Hartford Mayor Bronin reflects on the past and what's next

Mayor Luke Bronin speaking on preventing gun violence in his office at Hartford City Hall in downtown Hartford, Connecticut January 26, 2023.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Mayor Luke Bronin speaking on preventing gun violence in his office at Hartford City Hall in downtown Hartford, Connecticut Jan. 26, 2023.

Luke Bronin’s eight years as mayor of Hartford come to a close as the clock strikes midnight this New Year’s Eve.

He chuckled as he revealed his modest plans for that day.

“I’ll be, probably, cleaning out my office on my last day,” Bronin said. “Right now, in the final days, we've got a few more things I'm trying to get done.”

One of the things Bronin wants to get done is to assist his replacement, Democrat Arunan Arulampalam, in hitting the ground running when he takes over Jan. 1 as Hartford's new mayor.

“We're working as a team in my administration to make sure that we're putting as much material together as we think will be helpful,” Bronin said.

People talk a lot about what a mayor does during their first 100 days in office, but Bronin said, he thinks “the most important thing in the first 100 days is to build that team, to build the habit of working together as a team, and a lot of good stuff flows from that."

Arulampalam recently announced several key positions for his staff.

"He's working to bring in a range of voices from around the city to help him set his priorities," Bronin said. "I think that's exactly the right thing to do."

As he looks back at his own accomplishments, Bronin singled out his administration's work to bring Hartford back from the edge of fiscal cliff by securing a state-financed bailout in 2018.

"We battled an unprecedented fiscal crisis in the early years of my administration,” Bronin said, “and, with a lot of partners, worked to build a stronger foundation."

As Bronin looks toward Hartford’s future, he sees promise.

"We put together a plan for where we want to see Hartford when Hartford turns 400 in 2035," Bronin said.

The plan includes neighborhood revitalization, blight mitigation, and the redevelopment of vacant spaces, he said.

Bronin cited recent projects in Parkville, along Albany Avenue and in the Northeast neighborhood as progress toward these objectives.

As the 44-year-old Bronin looks toward his own future — beyond filling boxes on New Year’s Eve — he said he’s given serious thought to running for office again.

In 2018, he explored a run for governor of Connecticut, but ended up leaving the race.

"If [Gov. Ned Lamont] doesn't run again [in 2026],” Bronin said “then that's obviously something I would strongly consider because it's the kind of work that I love — and it's a state that I love."

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

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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