‘A Connecticut Party’ finds middle ground in West Hartford

A Connecticut Party is looking to offer West Hartford voters a center option this November. Their candidates, from left, are Ross Jacobs, Mark Merritt, Lee Gold, Roni Rodman and Rick Bush.

WEST HARTFORD — Earlier this year, town council member Lee Gold left the Republican party and revived the A Connecticut Party along with independents and other former Republicans.

“I almost feel like the party left me,” Gold said. “I ran two years ago as a moderate. I was very clear about where I was and what lane I was in. It was important to differentiate me from other candidates. As we progressed, I saw both sides moving farther right and father left away from where I am.”

It’s in the middle where Gold resides politically, he said. He’s joined there by fellow town council candidates Roni Rodman, Mark Merritt and Rick Bush.

“I’ve had conversations ... they say there is no home left for them or no party left for them,” Gold said. “I was feeling the same lack of having that area filled. With A Connecticut Party, we have some former Republicans, we have unaffiliated, we have some who were Democrats. It’s a co-mingling on different ideas that can help promote a moderate, centrist voice. That’s where I believe I’ve always been.”

Ahead of the Nov. 2 election, Gold is focusing on a few issues in West Hartford, including consolidating municipal buildings.

One example, Gold said, is the town’s purchasing of the former St. Bridget School. He believes consolidating the Elmwood Community Center and the Faxon Library into one new building would open up more sites for development by private businesses.

“It allows for future private developments of those sites,” Gold said. The plan to do that is important to the renaissance of the Elmwood community. I’ve met a lot of residents in the Elmwood area and they feel overlooked...in the development of the town. A new development is a new injection of life into the Elmwood area.”

Bush, who said he is fiscally conservative but socially liberal, said he would like to see new ideas brought to West Hartford through new leadership.

“I know that the town has been run by the same group of people for a very long time,” Bush said. “It’s getting a little bit stale. I love Mayor Cantor. I think she does an excellent job. But I think we need some new people to bring some new ideas to increase and develop our infrastructure.”

Bush said he believes the town needs new indoor sports facilities for youth, including an upgrade to its basketball and volleyball courts. He’d also like to work on storm drainage issues that have been a problem for West Hartford residents in the past. Bush also added that he’d like to be part of a group that guides an outcome for the UConn property.

“One of the things I’ve learned about running for elected office, you really need to understand what’s going on,” Bush said. “You need to talk to people. You need to find out what their problems are and what they want solved. I’m not running for town council to help myself. I’m running to help West Hartford and the residents of the West Hartford.”

Running for Board of Education is Ross Jacobs. Though not an educator by trait, his wife has taught in Hartford for 17 years and his mother-in-law was in education for over 40 years, so he’s been close to it for a long time.

“Everybody is very passionate about their children,” Jacobs said. “Within that passion, people have very different ideas of what their child needs. Nobody is going to 100 percent win, but nobody should 100 percent lose.”

Jacobs’ main concern is learning loss that students may have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is regression,” Jacobs said. “These are things we have to be aware of and things we have to be collecting data on so we can really help everybody get back up on their feet in the classroom. We have to listen to teachers who are in the classroom with their kids. We need to find out from them what they’re seeing.”

Connecticut Media Group