Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin spoke about his experiences serving as mayor and his outlook for the city’s future at the University of Connecticut Wednesday evening.
Bronin said he was elected at a time where Hartford was at a crossroads.
“When I launched my campaign in the winter of 2015, I saw the city at a moment of enormous opportunity and enormous challenge. And I discovered that may be even more true than I had realized,” Bronin said.
He said that he has spent most of his time as mayor focused on both Hartford’s financial crisis and that of the state of Connecticut.
“I knew that the city was facing a very severe fiscal crisis, and one of the things I didn’t fully appreciate was how deep Connecticut’s fiscal crisis would be at the same moment,” Bronin said. “So we had a confluence of two fiscal crises, both of which had been a long time coming. And what we’ve been dealing with over the last year and a half has been trying to manage that confluence of crises.
Bronin said the current moment is ironic because, though Hartford is dealing with what he called a massive fiscal crisis, it is also at the beginnings of a revitalization that it has not seen in a long time.
“I think we have this moment right now, where if we can get our arms around the fiscal challenge in a real and honest way that doesn’t just leave us in the same position two years down the road – fighting the same battle and constantly living under the shadow of the crisis – I think we can actually create some momentum that we have not seen in a long time,” he said.
Bronin said recently, he has seen a different level of vibrancy and activity in Hartford.
“You see it in the thousands of apartment units that have been built up, and in what were vacant commercial buildings that are now occupied. You see it in the new UConn campus- the fact that there are now thousands of students coming to the heart of downtown every day,” he said.
Bronin stressed the importance of urban areas for a state’s economic growth.
“If you look at Connecticut’s failure to grow economically over the last decade since the recession, our greatest drag is the fact that we don’t have strong, vibrant cities that serve as a magnet for growth for employers and for young talent,” he said.
Bronin concluded the talk by expressing his hope for Hartford’s future.
“I have always believed and continue to believe that [Hartford] has enormous potential, and is a beautiful city with unbelievable assets,” he said.
Event organizer and Political Science Honor Society president Alexis Summers said she decided to host Bronin because she thought he had a wealth of knowledge to share with UConn students and faculty.
“I felt that students in majors ranging from political science to journalism to business would all be interested in hearing about Mayor Bronin’s background, experiences and political views, and would appreciate the opportunity to listen to and learn from such an interesting public figure,” Summers said.
Seventh-semester political science major Mike LaPorte said he attended the event because he has been interested in Hartford politics for a long time.
“With the [Yard Goats] stadium and the budget, I see Hartford on the cusp of something big,” LaPorte said. “Whether it’s good or bad remains to be seen, but I am very open to hearing what he has to say about what’s going on, specifically because of the situation the city’s in. Also, because I consider myself to be a decently conservative person, I’m really open to what he has to say about the job that he’s doing as mayor and what his outlook is for the city.
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.