Kermit Carolina Steams Ahead

An “exploratory” candidate didn’t mention a name beginning with T.  But the reference was clear, and so was the point.

Kermit Carolina made the reference Tuesday evening at the Courtland Seymour Wilson Branch Library in the Hill, where his exploratory committee held a meeting to urge him to “Run, Kerm, Run!”

The event came amid speculation about what state Sen. Toni Harp’s surprise entrance into the mayor’s race will mean for the other candidates looking to replace retiring incumbent John DeStefano. One candidate, state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, said he is “reassessing” whether to run.

Carolina, the principal of Hillhouse High School, made it clear Tuesday that he’s headed towards joining the race.

In remarks before three dozen supporters and onlookers in a basement meeting room, Carolina stressed his “in-the-trenches” work with kids and his upbringing in the Ashmun Street housing projects to show he knows what low-income families in New Haven are going through.

“The current field [of candidates] that’s out there—I’m concerned about their connection to people,” he said. “They have a helicopter view” from “being at the state level” or inside a room with four walls, he said. The reference to Harp, who has spent the last two decades as a state senator at the Capitol, was clear.

Carolina said he plans to meet with his exploratory committee Wednesday and make a final decision about running. “An announcement is going to come very, very, very soon,” he said.

After his public remarks, he brushed off the notion that Harp’s entrance would claim a large swath of voters he had been counting on to win the Democratic nomination in a Sept. 10 primary.

“I don’t see it having too much of an impact on the people who have come to know me over the years,” he said of her candidacy.

Then he made clear his opaque reference to Harp. He called her an “outstanding, amazing person,” but one who has been “too far removed for too long” from what’s going on in the streets of New Haven. He called “selfish” her decision to leave the Capitol, where she has been able to funnel money to New Haven as co-chair of the Appropriations Committee.

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posted by: GoodNatured on April 24, 2013  11:07am

> “outstanding, amazing person,” but one who has been “too far removed for too long” <

Wow - that’s an insightful, and very serious, criticism. 

And it seems a fair one, too.  20 years working in Hartford means 20 years when you’re not here, on the ground, in New Haven. 

It’s 20 years when you don’t share our frustrations over street safety, school performance, taxes.

posted by: PH on April 24, 2013  11:56am

The state legislature in Connecticut is part time.  Harp lives in New Haven and commutes to Hartford.  This is not the case of a full-time Congressperson who has a residence in Washington and one in their home state but spends most of their time in Washington.

The “too far removed in Hartford” meme is a red herring.  I’d rather have a candidate who understands state politics as well as local politics running the state’s most important city.  New Haven does not exist in a vacuum.

posted by: ELMCITYPROF on April 24, 2013  1:05pm

Oh good grief man declare already.

posted by: stick21 on April 24, 2013  6:07pm

Wow, attacking the most qualified person in the field of so so announced candidates! Announce, then using his “vast” experience in the political field, he can start trying to punk someone who can get the job done! Wise up New Haven!

posted by: ElmCityVoice on April 24, 2013  7:01pm

Toni Harp has worked at the Hill Health Center serving people from all our neighborhoods for years. Talk to people in New Haven’s healthcare community and they will tell you Toni’s role in New Haven. To say otherwise is to be outright dishonest. If Toni wants to run for mayor, that’s her right. Hey, John Daniels was a state senator and nobody ever demanded that he stay at the capitol. I think to say that Toni has not impacted New Haven greatly is disrespectful and untrue.

posted by: obi on April 26, 2013  3:32pm

Carolina RUN !!!!!! your chance at winning is just as good if not better than this SENIOR CITIZEN.