July 27, 2015
by Robert Storace
NEW BRITAIN — Citing restoring the city’s finances and economic development as the cornerstone of her first term, Erin Stewart received resounding support from the 41 members of the Republican Town Committee for another term as mayor.
“When we took office we had a $30 million deficit. Our bond rating was almost junk status. We realized things were worse than we thought they were,” said the 28-year-old city native in accepting her party’s nomination in the Police Department’s Community Room Monday. “You don’t solve $30 million in the hole overnight. We literally counted every single penny. I couldn’t have done it without the team I had.”
Stewart — who was interrupted several times during her 11-minute off-the-cuff speech — repeatedly thanked those on the Common Council and those who worked with her during her past 20 months in office.
Stewart said her administration “cut $16 million from the General Fund” and we “brought the city out of financial destruction. We were on the brink of bankruptcy. We are out of the hole and we’re now in the black.”
Stewart said something she is “extremely proud of” was the three notch upgrade earlier this year by Standard & Poors.
“We are setting new standards. The bar is extra high,” said Stewart, who added, “I have nothing to gain by lying. I love what I do.”
The mayor also spoke for several minutes on the economic development projects under her tenure.
She touched on the city’s massive streetscape project including the remaking of Central Park; the Beehive Bridge project; and the recent groundbreaking at Frisbie’s on Farmington Avenue. An ice cream parlor opened at the spot, and Stewart noted that soon there will be a home for elderly patients; a gas station; a restaurant; and a drive through Dunkin Donuts.
“You are seeing private development all over,” Stewart said. “We also sold the Berkowitz Building. It’s been an eyesore more years than I’ve been alive.”
The mayor also talked of instilling “pride in our community. We perpetrate our own myth that New Britain is a bad place to live. Nothing is further from the truth. New Britain has a lot to offer.”
The mayor recognized her slate on several occasions, saying she’s “damn proud” to have several registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters running with her.
“At the end of the day, it’s bringing people together without being divisive and playing political games,” she said. “What we’ve done the past two years is incredible and I’m proud to be mayor of this city.”
The mayor — who received thunderous applause from the crowd — will face Democrat John McNamara and petition candidate Al Mayo in November. She didn’t mention either candidate by name.
This story originally appeared in the New Britain Herald.