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November 9, 2023

Hartford Mayor-elect Arulampalam ‘hits ground running’; names transition leaders

Michael Puffer Mayor-elect Arunan Arulampalam with his transition team in the background, including House Speaker Matthew Ritter; Andrea Comer, chief of staff to the state treasurer; and Mayor Luke Bronin.

Hartford Mayor-elect Arunan Arulampalam announced plans for an inclusive administration that will consult and elevate all sections of the city as he announced three high-profile leaders in his transition team Wednesday.

Arulampalam enlisted House Speaker Matthew Ritter (D-Hartford); Andrea Comer, chief of staff to the state treasurer; and Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams to lead transition efforts. Speaking in a hallway outside the mayor’s office Wednesday, Arulampalam touted their combined experience in city, state and federal government, as well as their deep connection to the Capital City.

“Most of all they are all people who care so deeply about the City of Hartford; love the city, know the residents of the city, thought creatively about solutions for the city, and I am fortunate to call them friends,” Arulampalam said.

Arulampalam served as deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection before taking a job heading Hartford’s nonprofit Land Bank, which works to redevelop blighted and abandoned properties.

Arulampalam plans to announce additional members of the transition team this week, appointing heads to policy committees that will help set agendas and chart strategy for the administration.

“The transition is a real opportunity to have conversations and dream about what the city could look like in the next four to eight years,” Arulampalam said. “And so, we hope to bring as many voices to that table as we can.”

Ritter reminisced about becoming a member of Hartford’s City Council 16 years ago, where he counted Comer among his council peers. Ritter said he left City Hall 10 years ago to join the state General Assembly, understanding the city “doesn’t have any chance” without state support. 

Ritter said he aims to ensure Arulampalam continues to have access to state support, including backing for the Capital Region Development Authority.

Among its various roles, CRDA provides crucial low-interest loans to developers that, along with automatic associated property tax breaks, fill funding gaps to make feasible large-scale apartment developments in the city.

Ritter also highlighted the important work of preparing for office, so Arulampalam can hit the ground running on this first day, Jan. 1.

“There’s no excuses on Jan. 2 for not being ready, and so I think the three of us take this charge and this task very much to heart, to help Arunan get his administration up and running, to make sure folks feel heard,” Ritter said.

Comer credited Arulampalam with engendering a sense of hope and optimism.

“We all know the City of Hartford has challenges, but as we were out with the community, especially as we talked with people, the feeling of hope and the feeling of optimism and the knowledge that something really good is happening in the city is what made me really excited to work with him, made me excited to be part of this,” Comer said.

Outgoing Mayor Luke Bronin said he would use the remaining weeks in office to “tie up loose ends,” further key initiatives and work with Arulampalam and his team to ensure a smooth transition. 

He expressed gratitude to be able to hand off the role to someone who will approach it with the same “love and belief” in the city.

“I'm so proud that Arunan will be the next mayor and that he’s already, the day after the election, hitting the ground running and ready to do the work,” Bronin said. 

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