Dems nominate Hartwell for senate spot
During the 2008 elections, Connecticut's fiscal woes were just beginning to surface as new faces were beings voted into office. In the 26th senatorial district, Democrat John Hartwell received 47 percent of the vote, but ultimately lost to State Sen. Toni Boucher R-26.
Now, two years later, Hartwell is ready to give it another go after receiving his party's nomination on Monday night in Westport Town Hall. Balancing the budget while sustaining long-term growth for the state are priorities, he told more than 50 delegates from the seven towns comprising the 26th district.
"Republicans will tell you ... that all we have to do is cut spending, cut taxes, everything will be fine, all business will flourish and the state will be wonderful. That is not credible," Hartwell, 63, said. "Some people in our party think we can simply tax the rich, but when their definition of the rich is primarily Fairfield County, I get to be concerned. We are not the ATM of Hartford."
The 26th senatorial district includes Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield, Wilton, Weston, Westport and New Canaan.
Hartwell started his political career in 1968 when he worked as an advance man scheduling events for the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy. In 1973, he left the U.S. to become an English teacher in the Middle East. He met his wife, Janet, also a teacher, while he was in Iran working as a trainer and manager for companies such as Bell helicopters and Lockheed.
After returning to Connecticut in 1985 and studying public and private management at Yale, he eventually became vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank. Today, Hartwell works as an international management consultant and he lives on the grounds of Greens Farms Academy with his wife, Janet, who is head of school at the academy. He also serves as a treasurer of NARAL Pro Choice Connecticut and as a trustee of the Pequot Library and Earthplace -- The Nature Discovery Center.
After accepting his nomination, Hartwell warned that layoffs and tax hikes are likely as the legislature attempts to balance the budget, but that "we must not shortchange our future growth." He cited improving the educational system, especially community colleges, and revamping transportation infrastructure and mass transit as key areas. Also, he said he'd like to see Connecticut invest in "industries of the future" such as biotech.
"We have to ... diversify," Hartwell said. "We have to grow another region of the state and we have to grow another industry in this state to create a much more balanced approach so that it's not only us that Hartford looks to for money."
Running against Hartwell will be incumbent Toni Boucher, a Wilton resident who received the nomination from the Republican Party on May 12. Prior to her first term on the senate, Boucher served as state representative in the 143rd assembly district for 12 years.
A message left on Boucher's cell phone was not returned as of press time.
The results of the 2008 election -- in which Hartwell lost by 3,126 votes but won Westport handily -- have Rudy Marconi, Ridgefield first selectman and former candidate for governor, convinced that this election could be different.
"We have to work if we want a Democrat to represent us in Hartford. There's no doubt about that. He did his job last year. He got 47 percent of the vote," Marconi said to the Democratic delegates. "Now, I never was great at math, but I think you only need 51 percent, so can we count on you and all of us here to get that 4 percent? Can we?"