Dr. Robert Painter has decided he won’t be seeking a third term on Hartford City Council, thus ending one of the most improbable and unique political careers in Hartford history.
In 2001, Painter, a respected surgeon who had never run for public office before and a Republican in an overwelmingly Democratic city, seemingly came out of nowhere to capture a seat on Council. After serving out a two year term, Painter was re-elected to a four-year term in 2003.
“I think I’ve accomplished a lot of what I’d hoped to accomplish and decided it was time to step down,” said Painter. He added that retiring from Council will also allow him to devote more time to several projects that he’s interested in.
One of those projects is using plasma arc technology to eliminate waste, rather than conventional burning. Using the new technology to solve Hartford’s waste disposal issues was first suggested by Mike McGarry, but Painter, utilizing his scientific background, has since taken the lead.
“The Mayor encourage me to look into the technical details [of plasma arc technology]...and the more research I do the more it seems like this is the best way to get rid of our waste,” said Painter.
Another initiative that Painter wants to pursue is the development of a “college park” in the area just north of Downtown on the other side of I-84. The project has been put on hold, but Painter said it is “still a viable opportunity” and would serve to better connect Downtown and the North End. Ideally, he said, the area could be home to the UCONN School of Public Health, Capital Community College’s School of Nursing and School of Social Work as well as other institutions of learning.
Painter also wants to continue exploring America’s drug policies, a subject on which he’s already held several public meetings. “The drug war has been going on for 30 years now and all we’ve done is create a dangerous black market. What we’ve done in the past isn’t working…The issues are serious and deserve serious discussion as well as accurate and appropriate information,” he said.
Another project that Painter is very deeply involved in is developing an elderly housing facility in Downtown Hartford. He and others who are exploring the possibility of building what Painter calls a “vertical continuing care facility” are currently examining sites and funding sources. He envision this new kind of elderly living as being similar to a facility like Duncaster in Bloomfield but built in an urban setting and resembling a Downtown high-rise with room for 200-400 people. Painter said there are approximately 140 such facilities currently operating in the country.
Persons residing in the facility would purchase an apartment and would be able to pay for various services, such as prescription management, housekeeping and meal preparation, as they grow older. Painter said his wife, Nancy Macy-Painter, first suggested the idea to him.
“It would be a place where you could comfortably live for the rest of your life,” said Painter. “You’d never have to leave Hartford.”