On September 10 Middletown residents have a real choice to make in the four-way mayoral primary. Mary Bartolotta represents a chance for us to see much-needed change in City Hall and our entire community.
Of the four candidates, Mary is the only one who has concrete experience as a legislator. During her years on the Common Council, she has informed herself thoroughly on all the issues that the Council has to decide; she has taken her fiduciary responsibility seriously, reading detailed and complicated budgets with great care and coming to her own conclusions as to how the taxpayers’ money should be spent. She has listened attentively and respectfully to citizens who have come before the Council with concerns and causes for which they wished to advocate. When she has disagreed with her party’s or the Council leadership’s chosen course of action, she has voiced her opinion clearly and logically, without grandstanding or hostility, and has followed her conscience in voting.
Unlike the other candidates, Mary has an actual track record when it comes to protecting the environment. She doesn’t merely proclaim her support for a healthy environment. Understanding the danger of exposing our children (as well as our pets, wild animals, and adults) to toxic chemicals, she voted in favor of natural-grass playing fields as opposed to synthetic turf. She also supported extending the state ban on pesticide use on the grounds of K-8 schools to cover all of Middletown’s playing fields. Recently she voted with unfeigned enthusiasm for a referendum on bonding that will enable Middletown to purchase open space—valuable for keeping our air and water clean, promoting biodiversity, making us more resilient in the face of climate change, and promoting local agriculture.
Mary has shown through her actions that she cares about social equity. Her work on eliminating housing discrimination and on recognition for African-American veterans has earned her gratitude from members of our community often ignored by those in power. I recently saw Mary at a workshop on equity sponsored by Sustainable CT. She participated in the discussion—which dealt with difficult questions of social justice—displaying a degree of honesty, openness, and humility rarely seen in politicians. Her vision for Middletown is at once ambitious and realistic: she wants to see the City become more inclusive and caring, so that all its residents can thrive and realize their potential.
Mary has the qualities that make for an excellent leader: she listens, she is eager to learn. She wants to bring people together, get beyond the intrenched interests that have influenced Middletown politics for too long. Her private-sector experience in human resources will help her resist cronyism in City hiring. She will bring natural civility, intelligence, and a thoughtful, empathetic disposition to City Hall.
Krishna Winston is a Professor of German Studies and a Professor in the College of the Environment, emerita.