New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Mayor Veto’s Department Residency Vote


Mayor Erin Stewart, August 17, vetoed the Democratic majority Common Council vote to reinstate a residency requirement for department heads.

By an 8-4 vote, the Common Council voted Aug. 8 that departments heads hired live in New Britain or move to New Britain within one year.

In February of 2017 by a 12-1 vote the Council removed residency requirements for department heads except fire chief, police chief and future public works directors.

According to the mayor, it was removed because postings had to be relisted as the City could not find qualified candidates.

“The roles and responsibilities of our department heads are varied, requiring high specialized skill sets, experiences and in some cases, licensure qualifications. The requirements alone act as limiting agents for potential candidates. We have seen how shallow the talent pool can be for some of these positions, even without having a residency requirement. I view it one of my many responsibilities to the residents of this City to hire the best possible candidate for these critical positions. To ensure this, we must draw from as broad a pool as possible,” said Stewart in her veto letter to Town Clerk Mark Bernacki. “For the past five years I have had the privilege of working with department leaders who have shown their full commitment to the City, well beyond what is required of them simply due to their employment. They work hard to provide services to residents, attend City functions, and support City businesses on a daily basis. In most cases they spend more time in New Britain then they do in their own hometowns. If there was ever a question whether a department leader was committed to this City, they wouldn’t be in their position very long.”

Stewart added that she believes those re-instituting this residency requirement, did so with the best intentions.

“I share the inspiration that New Britain, can and will be an attractive location for professionals like our department heads to live, work and raise their families.That is the job we were elected to do. We will do that by continuing to have stable finances. Competitive economic development strategies, stronger schools and a local government that is welcoming, responsive and delivers services better than our peer communities. For that we need the best possible people to lead our departments,” she added.

The Common Council can try to veto the Mayor’s veto at their next Council meeting Sept. 12. It would take 10 votes to veto it. That would mean one member of the Republican party would have to side with the Democratic majority.