When he lost in the September primary, former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez said the voters had spoken. However, he’s decided to keep his name on the ballot and stay in the race for mayor.
“I am not going to walk away from my ability to contribute to the long-term future of Hartford in a positive way,” said Perez.
“I’ve got enough sense that Hartford wants me to continue to be engaged whether it’s as mayor or as dog catcher they want me to be involved,” Perez stated.
The 62-year-old’s political plans came to a screeching halt in 2009. He was arrested and later pleaded guilty to bribery and extortion and resigned from office.
“I knew this was going to be a big challenge to become mayor,” he said. “I let people down. I made a mistake and I’ve asked people to forgive me,” admitted Perez.
Perez, who works as a transportation coordinator for the Capitol Regional Education Council, said education is the answer to Hartford’s biggest problems from crime to commerce.
“I would like to see our school system rank in the top 10 to 15 percent of achievement in our state,” said Perez of one of his goals. “As long as you have a failing school system you’re always going to have to deal with why these kids failed. The first thing is you have a good school system and if you have a good school system kids graduate from a school system and either off to higher education or go into the workforce.”
Perez said if elected he’ll focus on raising moral on the police force.
“We’ve beat up on officers and there’s no champion for officers,” said Perez. “You can’t have an absentee leader and then tell cops to do the toughest job that public service requires them.”
Perez also said he would increase officers’ wages in an effort to retain members of the police department.
“We have to be able to compete with the rest of the suburbs and we can’t under compensate,” he said.
He suggested a cost sharing agreement for public safety, public works, and other services in the greater Hartford area.
“We do heavy lifting on the part of every community in the greater Hartford area and I think we should be thinking of ourselves as a region,” said Perez.
In 2018, the state gave Hartford $500 million to avoid bankruptcy.
“I don’t consider it a bailout. I consider it part of responsibility,” said Perez.
It’s a responsibility he said also includes a state obligation to share more of the cost for educating Hartford students and payments to the property poor city for all of the state buildings, hospitals, and churches that don’t have to pay property taxes to call Hartford home.
“If those were fully funded in the city of Hartford and all of our urban areas the first 12 largest communities in the state, all those communities who are always struggling with economic vitality would be able to control their own destiny,” said Perez of the In Lieu of Taxes program.
Perez said win or lose, he will continue to try to make a difference in Hartford.
“There have been tougher times in the city and the only way we’re going to continue to improve is that the residents of this city have to believe in themselves and believe if they join hands we will be stronger,” he said.