26-Year-Old Trying to Unseat Incumbent Mayor - NBC Connecticut

26-Year-Old Trying to Unseat Incumbent Mayor



    Erin Stewart, 26, is challenging Democratic incumbent mayor Tim O'Brien in New Brittain (Published Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013)

    In a city of more than 70,000 people a 26-year-old with a familiar name is trying to make history.

    Erin Stewart is hoping to be New Britain's youngest mayor ever.
    "I'm getting a very positive feel from the people in New Britain," said Stewart.
    The Republican legislative aide is reaching out to Democrats and independents. Her father Tim Stewart was mayor for 8 years.
    "Watching my father inspired me, of course it did," she said. "But this decision was made on my own. I'm my own woman."
    Stewart is trying to unseat Tim O'Brien, the current mayor. He's a Democrat in a largely Democratic city.
    "We've been able to create hundreds of jobs, we're moving the city forward economically, we've invested in education," said O'Brien.
    But O'Brien's 2 years in office has been rocky at times. A controversial move to impose fees on landlords prompted a strong backlash. 
    Stewart criticized the mayor's role in the controversy.
    "The lack of leadership in that office has a direct effect on the daily lives of people who live here," she said. "The problem was is that it was handled wrong from day one."
    Stewart also said the city cannot afford to alienate landlords. Her father was one of those protesting the mayor's plan.
    Mayor O'Brien said the issue was about reducing blight in the city.
    "We were able to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and make our city better," he said.
    The mayor also touted the turnaround at the police department.
    "We are now recruiting officers from other cities to come work for us," he said.
    Stewart believes the city can do better.
    "New Britain has the second highest tax rate in the State of Connecticut and that's unacceptable," she said.
    O'Brien and Stewart have debated twice. In these final two weeks before Election Day both say they will continue to knock on doors and work the phones.