Public safety, taxes top agenda for West Hartford Republicans

The West Hartford Republican candidates are Dr. Gayle Harris, Alberto Cortes, Mary Fay and Mark Zydanowicz.

WEST HARTFORD — Republicans running for town council are focusing on public safety and taxes, among other issues, this election cycle.

Mary Fay, a two-term member of the town council who is running for reelection, said she initially ran for the position out of an economical concern.

“I was very concerned about the financial condition of our state and our town,” Fay said. “We’re on a trajectory that isn’t sustainable with our expense increases. We’re one of the highest taxed municipalities in the state.”

Fay said she believes that taxes may lead to seniors not being able to stay in West Hartford and younger people not being able to move into town.

“We can’t keep taxing people. For many, it’s a major burden,” Fay said. “They can’t afford to stay in their homes. It’s a challenge for younger families to move into town because of that. Unfortunately, you hear rich and wealthy people say they don’t mind paying for the taxes because we have a nice town. We do ... but not everyone writes a $20,000 check like it’s Monopoly money.”

Alberto Cortes, who has lived in West Hartford in 1998 and is running for town council alongside Fay and Mark Zydanowicz, who is on the Board of Education.

“West Hartford provides a great space for my family and my children,” Cortes said. “There are great school systems in town. My concern is how much longer can I afford to live in West Hartford. That got me involved, to look at affordability issues we have with the higher taxes in town and the recent trend of how the taxes are increasing over the time I’ve lived in West Hartford.”

Cortes, who is a former corrections officer with the state of Connecticut, said he’s also concerned about public safety, referencing recent incidents like a carjacking in Bishops Corner.

“I want to help make West Hartford a safer place,” Cortes said. “Recently, there has been a trend with crimes with juveniles. I feel with my background and I can have input on how we can make things better with crime and address these issues. There’s an accountability we don’t see happening. We call it a catch and release program. Those things have to change.”

Fay said her answer to that is about supporting the police more.

“You’re never going to erase crime, but you can do a good job at focusing on the microlevels,” Fay said. “Our police need to be enabled. It has to do with our laws. At the community level, I am very fond of our police chief and our policemen and women are terrific. They want to do the right things. We have to address this.”

The Republican’s lone board of education candidate is Gayle Harris.

Harris, who is an OBGYN and has an office in West Hartford, said she’s been passionate about education her entire life.

She said she’d like to serve so she can ensure that the town’s schools are “maintaining good educational standards” and that to make sure “schools aren’t becoming politicized and agendacized and that we’re teaching things that get kids a good education.”

Harris also wants to make sure students who suffered from loss learning during the COVID-19 pandemic can catch up.

“Teachers feel that kids have really lost ground in terms of their education,” Harris said. “It’s very difficult to teach second graders on Zoom. I think that particularly in those age groups there has been a lot of regression and loss learning. That’s something we have to be focused on, which goes back to really being focused on education and making up this lost ground for kids.”

Connecticut Media Group