July 6, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford city council President John Bazzano confirmed Thursday that he does not plan to run for re-election this year.
Bazzano spoke about his decision after prominent city Democrats last week said he planned to step down.
"It has been an honor and privilege to be able to serve in elected office, but it takes its toll after a while," Bazzano said. "When your heart and gut tell you to move on, you've got to listen to those messages."
Bazzano, 48, was first elected to the council in 2003 and was the council's majority leader for two years before becoming council president. He has been involved in Hartford politics since the mid 1980s and spent more than 10 years on the city's Democratic town committee.
In 1993, Bazzano helped Mike Peters get elected mayor, first acting as Peters' campaign manager and then becoming his chief of staff, a title Bazzano held for eight years.
When Peters left office in 2001, Bazzano got a job as an analyst for the city treasurer's office, where he worked for two years before getting elected to city council.
In 2004, Bazzano joined the Colt Gateway project as its director of business development - a job he still holds.
The project is a $120 million plan to turn the old gun factory with its blue onion dome, just west of I-91, into apartments and commercial space. And although the project has struggled of late to secure funding, a portion of the money anticipated for the project - about $8 million in bonds - would come from the city.
Bazzano said he has spent most of his adult life involved in Hartford politics. And although he "loved every minute of it," he thinks it is time to move aside for people with "new energy and vigor," he said. He gave a plug Thursday for one young candidate, Matt Ritter, the 25-year-old son of Thomas D. Ritter, former speaker of the state House of Representatives.
"Matt certainly has that energy, and for someone so young, he has the knowledge and the know how," Bazzano said. "He would do a wonderful job on the council. The kid gets it."
The first public mention of Bazzano not running again was made at Ritter's announcement last week.
The city council lately has faced criticism for what critics describe as an abdication of its power to Mayor Eddie A. Perez. Bazzano himself has heard words used to describe the body - rubberstamps, bobble heads - that he said are neither fair or accurate.
City Councilman Robert Painter, who said he was surprised to learn Bazzano would not run again, said the council president did not shy from confrontation with Perez.
"Contrary to public opinion, he was not afraid to stand up to the mayor and challenge him," Painter said. "He was judicious with his support for the mayor."
Painter said Bazzano came to the job with a jump start, having worked in municipal government for so long. Painter described Bazzano's style of leadership as "low key, steady, persistent and responsive."
"He has been amazingly steady as a leader," Painter said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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