In 1969, after the resignation of four members of the city council and summers of rioting made the city seem unmanageable, the Democratic Party leadership appointed young activist Nicholas Carbone to the city council where he quickly asserted leadership. As majority leader for the next decade, Carbone presided over a series of development agreements that reserved developer profits for city residents, supported the nationally recognized Hartford Food System, and created a number of city practices that favored poor residents.
Carbone lost electorally in 1979, to be followed by a varied sequence of leaders and movements. Hartford elected its first black mayor in 1982; a community coalition mobilized support for a "linkage" measure similar to those implemented in Boston and elsewhere, and when it failed, there was enough support in 1987 to elect Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry and a minority slate put forth by a new third party, People for Change. Eventually PFC gained an additional seat and joined with insurgent democrats and Perry in a majority progressive coalition during 1991-93 before fading from control.
Simmons was part of People for Change, a combination third party and community coalition that won control of the Hartford City Council in 1991 under then-mayor Carrie Saxon Perry. Nicholas Carbone's period of poverty-fighting policies (1969-79) had given way to conservative takeover and conflict while the city's financial condition worsened. There were progressive gains through the later 1980s: a struggle over the effort to implement linkage, labor mobilization around a strike at Colt Firearms, a Legislative Electoral Action Program (LEAP) supported progressive candidates in 1987, and competition with the initially dominant Democratic Party grew. Here Simmons provides detail of her coalition's efforts -- ultimately unsuccessful -- to improve the situation through the 1991-93 period of council control.
Carbone had been deputy mayor and city council leader for a decade (1969-1979) when he was defeated in a bid for an expanded mandate and the mayoralty. While in office he led the city in a series of policies to counter poverty and financial difficulties. One feature was a series of development agreements whereby the city provided property -- often abandoned or decrepit -- in return for developer agreements to provide local jobs and affordable housing. In this transcribed talk, Carbone provides the rationale and accomplishments in this and other city initiatives in his period of city council leadership.
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