by Angela Fortuna and Shaina Blakesley
Mayor Erin Stewart was elected for her third term serving New Britain last week, and is making history in the process.
Stewart was first elected mayor of New Britain when she was 26 years old in 2013, making her the youngest mayor in the city’s history, according to her website.
“I plan to continue with the vision I laid out four years ago, which is a plan to transform our city into a place where people want to increasingly live, work, visit and open a business,” Stewart said. “We have many streetscape projects in the works, transit-oriented development initiatives waiting to come to life, various infrastructure projects for both the city and school system and grant projects that I want to see through to completion.”
Stewart has many plans for the future of New Britain, however, Democrats in the town are in control of the New Britain council.
The Democrats now have nine seats on the New Britain City Council, while the Republicans now have six on the 15-member council, according to the Hartford Courant.
Stewart ran against candidates such as Democratic candidate Merrill Gay and petitioning candidate Al May.
“It was interesting to run against candidates who campaigned without much of a platform or policy recommendations. I think voters were uncertain with what they had to offer and were turned off by the negative attacks, and the results show,” Stewart said.
Gay’s platform was mainly about change, and that New Britain could benefit from a new leader.
“I want New Britain to thrive, not just survive. We need to capitalize on our strengths and engage our diverse communities to build a better New Britain,” Gay said of his vision for the city, according to his campaign website.
The College Democrats at Central Connecticut State University shared their views on the opposing candidate’s loss.
“It was unfortunate that Merrill Gay did not win. We phone banked with him shortly before the election and thought he would have done well as mayor,” Ian Cocking, president of the College Democrats at CCSU said. “Not all is lost though. Democrats were able to gain six new seats in city council, making it 9-6 with Democrats taking a majority. We are short of the two-thirds needed to veto, but we are picking up traction for the party.”
Stewart is the only woman to be elected mayor for a second, and now a third term in the city of New Britain.
During her third term, Stewart plans to “find new and innovative ways to save taxpayers money, improve the delivery of our services, increase citizen participation in local government and facilitate new community events and partnerships.”
Stewart’s family has a tradition of serving New Britain residents, and she is proud to continue that tradition, according to her campaign website; this tradition has lasted 100 years.
“She closed a deficit of more than $30 million during her first term, increased the City’s Rainy Day fund to $15 million and brought stability and responsibility back to the city’s finances,” according to her campaign website.
This led to Stewart’s reelections for second and third terms.
Stewart is also credited to the opening of CTfastrak in 2015, which many Central students use. CCSU gives students a free semester-long U-Pass to travel to the surrounding areas of New Britain.
Stewart is well-liked in the city of New Britain and the GOP. Residents have recently urged Stewart to run for governor.
“I am currently focused on meeting the needs of New Britain residents as mayor. I am humbled by the support from individuals urging me to run for higher office [and] I will keep all my options open for the future,” Stewart said.