Mayoral Elections 2017
The New Britain City Journal asked those running for Mayor this November to write profiles about themselves for the paper. Below are submissions from the candidates that responded.
Merrill Gay (D)
Merrill Gay has been a statewide leader on education and early childhood issues for over a decade. He led efforts in New Britain to double the number of children attending preschool and wrote New Britain’s application to join the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Out of that process grew New Britain’s nationally recognized work to reduce chronic absence and stop summer learning loss. Last year New Britain won an All American City award for its work in those areas.
He got his start in local politics when he organized parents against school budget cuts that threatened the loss of two teachers from his daughter’s elementary school. Merrill was one of the first parents to join the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding and was a plaintiff in the CCJEF vs. Rell law suit that seeks to remake the state’s educational cost sharing system that currently shorts New Britain $30 million per year.
For the past 4 years Merrill has served as the executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. In that role he led the advocacy effort to create Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood as a cabinet level agency combining functions from five other departments.?
Merrill has served on the New Britain Board of Education since 2014. As a board member he has worked to: Revamp the district’s special ed preschool program; Bring play-based learning back into kindergarten; Revamp the health curriculum; and he has been a strong supporter of the specialized health and finance academies at New Britain High School. Both of his two children Vivian and Greg are graduates of New Britain High School.
Merrill is an avid cyclist and was one of 36 velomobile riders to complete the Roll Over America in 2011. This month-long ride from Portland OR to Washington DC averaged 125 miles per day. He can frequently be seen riding through town in his bright yellow, aerodynamic velomobile emblazoned with the words “We Vote For Kids.”
Merrill is running for Mayor because New Britain faces real issues that are not been addressed: the increasing tax burden on residents; ballooning debt payments; threaten sale of city water resources; an education system that still needs work; and neighborhoods seemingly forgotten by city government. He knows that these issues will take time to address which is why he is committed to New Britain and is only concerned about what is best for the city. He also believes that the team that has been assembled on the Democratic side is one of great diversity in both its people and perspectives. Part of moving the city forward is bringing together people from all our diverse communities, people with different perspectives to help make decisions. New Britain needs those fresh ideas now more than ever. On Tuesday November 7th, Vote Row A for Democrat Merrill Gay to help build a better New Britain.
Mayor Erin Stewart (R-Incumbent)
I have been proud to be Mayor of our great City over the last four years.
Going from a $30 million deficit to a $15 million surplus, is not easy, but we did it. We’ve boosted our credit rating by four notches, grown our Grand List, added more than 45 new businesses, and created hundreds of new jobs along the way. It’s a new era for the Hardware City.
All across our City, there’s a new found energy that is attracting new developers and businesses, lots of exciting projects, and new visitors. We have been investing in our community like never before: more importantly, we are seeing the results.
Others around the state and the country are taking note. We’ve been named a prestigious All America City two years in a row thanks to the community partnerships we’ve forged to increase the successes of our students. We’re attracting tens of millions of dollars in new investments following the opening of CTfastrak and the implementation of our award-winning master plans for development.
We’ve worked hard to make government open and accessible. I’ve held open office hours every month since being elected, both in City Hall and live on Facebook.
With our Energy and Innovation Committee, we’ve brought cutting edge technology and infrastructure to help make New Britain a SMART City and to save taxpayers money. Each day, we work tirelessly to ensure that your local government is efficient, responsive, and innovative.
Through Building Hope Together: New Britain’s Permanent Work Plan to End Homelessness, we’ve connected struggling individuals with the resources they need to get back on their feet and into stable housing—successfully eliminating chronic family homelessness in our City.
Through our strong partnership with our Police Department, we’ve reduced crime, introduced a new community policing engagement tool, and made our neighborhoods safer.
We’ve advocated on behalf of the City and students for fair representation at the state capital during this year’s fiscal crisis.
All of these successes have come by working in a bipartisan manner and they don’t happen by chance: it takes good management principles. I’m proud of my record of working with members of all political parties, regardless of their party affiliation.
So, why am I running?
I am running to finish the work I said I would do on behalf of City that I love. From the Beehive Bridge to additional streetscape projects and many other new developments, there are many projects in the works that I can’t wait to finish. We fixed what was wrong. We created a vision and a path forward, and now it’s time to implement; it’s time to follow through.
On November 7th, I hope that you will support Team Stewart, so that we can continue Leading the Way and building upon our successes.
For more information, please visit us at www.stewartfornb.com