Kat Namon ’22
Trinity College alumnus and former mayor of Hartford Eddie Perez ’96 is considering making a political comeback after a corruption scandal and conviction in 2009. Perez grew up in public housing in Hartford and is a former gang member. He graduated from Trinity in 1996 and served as the Associate Vice President of Community Relations for 11 years. He currently works as a transportation coordinator for the Capitol Region Education Council.
Perez resigned from his position as mayor of Hartford in 2011, after being convicted in 2010 of five felony corruption charges connected to discounted home repairs completed in his private home by a city contractor. The state had also charged that Perez tried to extort money from a private developer to benefit a North End power broker who in return, would secure votes for Perez when he was pursuing reelection.
Perez faced a three-year sentence, but his conviction was later overturned in 2013 and the Supreme Court upheld this reversal in 2016. After a movement to retry Perez, he pleaded guilty in August of 2017. Perez today, now 61, has hinted at making a political comeback during the 2019 mayoral race. Perez stated in an article in The Hartford Courant published on March 2 that “I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve made any decisions.” He also urged people to not read too far into his appearances at community events and increased presence at fundraisers. He would be running against competitors such as current mayor Luke Bronin, who is seeking reelection for a four-year term, state representative Brandon McGee, in addition to independent television station owner J. Stan McCauley.
Some critics of Perez have said he has too much baggage from these past convictions to have any hope of a successful race. Some also have said he no longer has the support he had in the previous election, which he won largely because of his support from African Americans and Afro-Caribbean citizens. However, this year there are several black candidates running for mayor that critics say will undercut Perez’s support. In addition, because of the time constraint with the municipal election eight months away and primary coming up this summer, Perez would have to start raising money for his campaign very soon.
Harford political consultant and Perez’s former chief of staff Matthew Hennessy stated Perez still holds a number of supporters in a Hartford Courant article published last Sunday, “Eddie has been approached by a number of folks in the Hartford community urging him to run for mayor who remember all he did to create homeownership opportunities, invest in our schools, put more firefighters and police on the streets, and fight for the rights of residents to join a union and earn a living wage…if he does decide to run, he will be the underdog, but many think City Hall has lost its focus on the neighborhoods and are looking for a change.”
In the past, Connecticut mayors have been successful in seeking reelection after political corruption scandals. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim served seven years in federal prison and was driven from office. He was then reelected in 2015 after a campaign based on the theme of second chances.