West Hartford Democrats focus campaign on COVID recovery

Carol Blanks is running for reelection to town council.

WEST HARTFORD — Mayor Shari Cantor is focused on recovery ahead of the Nov. 2 election.

Cantor, who is again throwing her name into consideration for West Hartford voters, said she’s looking at how she and her fellow Democrats plan to support the town in a post-COVID-19 world.

“As we come out of the pandemic and step into full recovery mode, it’s really about supporting the community,” said Cantor, who has been on the town council since 2004 and has been mayor since 2016. “Not only bringing us back to where we were before, but making us better and stronger going forward.”

Part of that, Cantor said, is their plan on how to spend the over $37 million in funding the town is receiving in federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We have this recovery money from the government that needs to be strategically spent and guiding that process will be a priority to come out stronger,” Cantor said. “The work isn’t done yet. There are a lot of people who have gone through a really tremendously hard time. How do we keep people mentally and physically healthy and prepare for other challenging times ahead? We can become resilient and even stronger.”

Cantor touts the Democrats recent work, including being ranked on lists placing West Hartford among the best communities to live.

“There’s so many exciting things going on in the community,” Cantor said. “We’re so lucky to have an engaged constituency and so many local business owners who are very invested here. We have been strong for a very long time. When you are repeatedly put on top rank lists year after year...those are really high accolades.”

Liam Sweeney, an incumbent on the town council who is running for reelection, said he would like to use another term to keep working on getting West Hartford teens a new teen center. They now occupy a small space at the Elmwood Community Center.

“The biggest thing I’m hoping to put some finality on is really advocating for the kids ... and creating a community center in town that will bring us a state of the art facility,” Sweeney said. “It’s really unfortunate that for so many years we let that slide. Almost every other community of our size has a facility that is substantially better.”

Carol Blanks, who is also running for reelection to the town council, is focused on COVID-19 and the police department.

“We’re still in the middle of the pandemic,” Blanks said. “We lifted our mask mandate, but that doesn’t mean our concern is lifted. We still have to make sure that we keep our residents and business owners and teachers and students safe. We have to continue to encourage people to get the vaccine.”

Blanks, referencing recent public safety incidents like the Bishops Corner carjacking and ATVs that have raced down busy West Hartford roads, said the police department is capable of handling these issues.

“Our department is on top of all these recent events we’ve experienced,” Blanks said. “I know it’s very concerning to a number of us. Our safety is somewhat compromised when we hear and see all these different things. [The department] very quick to address these issues and they work with other departments regionally to address these repeat offenders.”

Cantor, Blanks and Sweeney are running for town council alongside Deputy Mayor Leon Davidoff, Ben Wenograd and Adrienne Billings-Smith. Running for board of education are Debra Polun, Lorna Thomas-Farquharson, Clare Taylor Neseralla and Jason Chang.

“The Democratic leadership is proven,” Cantor said. “We’ve been doing this awhile now. The results are there.”

Connecticut Media Group