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Letter: Town Council GOP Needs To Get Its Act Together

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To the Editor:

I have been a conservative voter for as many years as I’ve been registered to vote.  I even registered to vote Republican many years ago at 17 when the state began allowing advance registrations. I was inspired by leaders such as Newt Gingrich, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Johnson, and even (before all the scandals hit) John Rowland. I don’t always stay registered as a member of the GOP for fear of hostility or disappointment with local leaders. There are long stretches of time when I identify as an Unaffiliated voter though in election years I bounce back to the party of Lincoln.

I have invested a considerable amount of my time over the past few months discovering why the Republican Party in our town is so dysfunctional. Why isn’t there a loud opposition voice? Why isn’t there alternative messaging? I fondly remember the years of 2002-2012 when we had an alternative, West Hartford-based, conservative/libertarian blog called “Radio Free West Hartford.” In years past, I felt there was a stronger contrarian voice opposing the increasingly (and in my view, unreasonably) progressive Democrat-led machine running this town.

Will the GOP ever get more than 3 Council seats again? I don’t know. However, we cannot move on, we cannot become a strong alternative voice for the people if Councilors Al Cortes and Mark Zydanowicz do not stop disrespecting fellow Councilor Mary Fay.   Mary is a proven vote getter and a candidate, even at the state level. In the 2022 statewide election, running for comptroller, Mary actually got more votes than GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski. During our most recent 2023 Town Council election, Mary got the most votes of the minority party. By tradition, that Councilor becomes the Minority Leader. For the previous 2 Council terms, Mary had been the Minority Leader. Al and Mark decided to buck tradition and vote for Mark as the Minority Leader. This is unacceptable. Mary is the hardest working GOP Councilor and she has the most visible presence on social media out of the 3 of them.

Three weeks ago, I emailed Al Cortes offering to moderate a meeting with the 3 Republican Councilors to finally bury the hatchet.   I have heard nothing in response despite getting responses from Al on other issues.  I am now putting this offer out there in public to help create a vibrant cooperative Council minority. If Al and Mark refuse to work with Mary and support her as Minority Leader, I think they should resign immediately. Mark and Al cannot get things done without the fiesty, aggressive style of Mary Fay. Likewise, Mary cannot reach her highest potential without at least 2 other Councilors working hand in hand with her. The Republican party in West Hartford may be doomed regardless. However, an opposition movement representing about 40% of us voters, never stands a chance without unity. Let’s give it a try.

Kevin Boudreau
West Hartford, CT

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  • As the author, I just wanted to add a couple of footnotes. After this was published last night, I feared there would be rocks thrown through my windows or my tires might be cut. That did not happen. 🙂

    Should there be changes in the make up of the Council — I am not interested in a seat.

    I have received some direct responses with comments such as — a) only the seats at the council meeting have changed not a big deal if Mary isn’t the Leader, b) Mary was ineffective as a Minority Leader, though it was out of her control (whatever that means), and c) basically she was on the wrong side of some 8-1 or 7-2 votes.

    I would respond by saying — in the 2022 general election for Comptroller – Mary got 554K votes — how much more effective would you like her to be? Further, Mary took a courageous stand being the lone opponent on some of these development votes because there was no corresponding vote to systematically (over the course of several years) make a commitment to lowering property taxes. Leadership is not a personality contest.

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