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Meet the Candidate: Shari Cantor

Shari Cantor. Submitted photo (we-ha.com file photo)

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running for election on Nov. 7, 2017.

Compiled by Ronni Newton

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to “Meet the Candidate” – designed to help them get to know the candidates running for office in West Hartford’s Nov. 7, 2017, municipal election.

Identical questionnaires have been sent to all major party candidates, and each profile received has been submitted directly to We-Ha.com by the candidate or the candidate’s campaign management. The responses have not been edited but have been formatted to match our publication style. Questions left blank have been deleted.

As profiles are received, they will be published on We-Ha.com under the “Government” tab. We-Ha.com is not making endorsements of any political candidates but we are publishing this information in order to assist West Hartford voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Nov. 7.

If you are a candidate and wish to submit a profile, please return it by email to Ronni Newton at [email protected] as soon as possible.

Name: Shari Cantor

Age: 58

Party, position seeking:Democrat, Re-election to Town Council

Family information:I have been married to my husband Michael, a patent attorney at Cantor Colburn, for 32 years. We have four sons and a new daughter-in-law – Josh and Theresa, Sam, Ben, and Jacob. Our sons all attended and graduated from West Hartford public schools. Theresa is a teacher at Conard High School. Ben, Josh and Theresa live in West Hartford, as does my mother, Rose Granow.

Other occupation, if applicable:I am a registered CPA, Volunteer Mayor, a member of UConn’s Board of Trustees and serve on the boards of Foodshare, the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, the West Hartford Art League, and the American School for the Deaf, and I am an active volunteer with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Rotary Club of West Hartford.

Political experience: I have been West Hartford’s Mayor since May 2016, and previously served as Deputy Mayor from 2011-2016. I have served as a Town Councilor since 2004.

Other relevant experience:I graduated magna cum laude with an accounting degree from the UConn School of Business, and I am a registered CPA. After UConn, I worked for Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and later Cigna.

Why are you running for office? I love my hometown of West Hartford. My husband and I chose to live in West Hartford and raise our four sons here because of West Hartford’s growing diversity, vibrancy, walkability, great schools and strong town management. I am running not only to preserve but also to strengthen our priorities of:

  • Excellent public schools and public safety,
  • Welcoming and inclusive community,
  • Great quality of life, and
  • Tax dollars invested and spent responsibly and prudently.

As Mayor I have and will continue to lead with civility and respect. This is what our community expects and deserves. We need leadership now more than ever that is thoughtful and compassionate while being fiscally responsible. I understand how critical it is to be innovative, creative, and to invest in our future. West Hartford’s residents are engaged – we have a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community that needs to be celebrated and treasured so we remain one of the best places to live in the country.

What issue(s) are your primary area of focus?I have been passionate about improving the life of all our residents in our community while being fiscally responsible and prudent. West Hartford has been a shining star in the Hartford region, state, and even in our country. There are very few inner ring suburbs in our nation that are AAA-bond rated by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, are top ranked in the country as a great place to live, that are as safe, diverse, and vibrant as West Hartford. I am proud of the investments we have made in public safety, our great public schools, beautiful parks, enriching and active senior centers and libraries, as well as snow plowing, trash, and recycling services and investments in our infrastructure. Our residents expect the best and I try every day to meet their high expectations- that is why West Hartford is one of the top communities in the country to live, work, and play.

Several topics are likely on the minds of West Hartford voters this year. Please provide a brief statement regarding your opinion about:

  • The Town of West Hartford budget – As I stated previously, we are a AAA-bond rated community by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s because of strong fiscal management and commitment to funding our liabilities. It is always a challenge to balance the priorities of the town- top notch public safety services, great public schools, and a wonderful quality of life with the antiquated property tax structure that exists in Connecticut. We have worked hard to grow our Grand List in responsible, innovative, and smart ways, all the while focusing on operating more efficiently and effectively. In this particularly challenging year with- as of yet- no state budget, we made responsible assumptions on how to handle state budget cuts while preserving the priorities that make West Hartford successful. The state-mandated revaluation also made things more complicated for our residents. Of course we must still continue to do more with less while investing in our priorities to maintain our quality of life.
  • The State of Connecticut budget situation – This has been a very difficult budget environment. Times are challenging but I am fighting for West Hartford. I have testified to the Connecticut Legislature to explain that West Hartford is unique, fiscally responsible, and very successful. Our Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant, which represents the largest amount of aid the town receives, has been underfunded for years. Our community should be modeled after and not penalized for our success. In our schools there are 70 different languages spoken at home, 20% of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch, an increasingly diverse community, top rankings in the country, and a per pupil expenditure that is among the lower third in the state – 128 out of 169 towns. In other words, we spend less per pupil than nearly 70% of all schools in the state and perform among the top-ranked districts. I am hopeful that the state will adopt a budget in the very near future. The Republican budget, the Democratic budget, and the Governor’s revised proposed budget all are within the range of what we budgeted for ECS this year.
  • Regionalism – A strong capital region is important not only for our region but also for our state. There are so many wonderful and exciting investments being made in Hartford and all around the city. Our residents contribute to the state and the Hartford region in treasure, time, and energy. We need to continue to be invested in our capital city, our greater Hartford region, and our state. Regionalism and Regionalization are different. We need to view ourselves as being a critical part of the capitol region, as do all of our neighboring communities. As for regionalization, we need to consider whether or not there will be real cost savings and benefits to our residents. We should look for opportunities for combined action only where it is beneficial.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today? The lack of a state budget and the big swings in potential aid leads to instability and real harm to all municipalities. I have and will continue to fight for West Hartford’s share of state support, but we also have to plan for the potential for state support to decrease. We need to inform the public about the real challenges ahead of us. We have to continue to balance affordability and what we need to keep West Hartford a fiscally sound, safe, vibrant community and one of the best places to live in the country.

What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? I have been on the Town Council along with Democratic leadership for over a decade. We have been welcoming and inclusive, responsive and responsible, civil and productive, and creative and innovative. I work very hard on behalf of our community to listen and respond to every resident. We have been consistently ranked as a top community because of our fiscal responsibility and our commitment to investing in our priorities and our future. Our residents and businesses continue to invest and reinvest in our community. I talk to people every day who tell me how much they love West Hartford. That is my – and the Democratic team’s – record.

Anything else you would like to share?It is more important than ever to be civically engaged and to be aware of what is going on locally, statewide, and nationally. We have to preserve and defend our democracy and our rights as citizens- we cannot take for granted that it will just happen. We need you to get involved and we need you to VOTE! So do not forget on November 7th to exercise your civic responsibility and cast your vote.

Thank you for being informed and engaged. I am happy to talk with you if you have any questions for me.

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1 Comment

  • “In this particularly challenging year with- as of yet- no state budget, we made responsible assumptions on how to handle state budget cuts ”

    Sorry, not even close to responsible assumptions.

    “The state-mandated revaluation also made things more complicated for our residents.”

    While Blue Back Square was hailed as a savior with respect to property taxes, those living nearby have been hit with severe (15-20%) tax increases. Meanwhile, the town blows money on new road signs (NOT mandated).

    While citizens in the center of town shoulder large hikes, commercial areas in the center have their valuations lowered or maintained. The following examples are found in the town records:
    75 Isham Rd unchanged
    38 Isham dropped by 60%
    65 #2 Memorial dropped by 28%
    85 Memorial dropped 15%

    Why are the residents paying for the reductions in Blue Back Square. Isn’t free land enough for these developers?

    Shari Cantor is a very nice person who does genuinely love the town, and I do not blame her personally for the issues I mentioned. I disagree with Democrat council members local policies, specifically with the financial management of the town, over many years.

    My comments apply to all those on the council who have allowed these conditions to occur. For those reasons I am unable to support any Democrats for council this November.

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