If Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez is removed from office, the president of city council would succeed him. After Perez's arrest last night, a leadership fight bubbled up, but that was snuffed out at a meeting Tuesday night.
Hartford Council President Calitxo Torres just barely held on to his leadership post in a special meeting last night, but it wasn't because of support from fellow Democrats. Only one other Democrat joined him in opposing the motion to unseat him. The four other Democrats, including Councilman Matt Ritter, argued for it because of Torres' close relationship with the mayor.
"Given the fact that the current president is admittedly the mayor's closest ally on the council, his pubic stance on positions on issues involving the mayor, whether this is fair or unfair, will be perceived much differently than positions and action taken by a more neutral leader."
President Torres called attempts to tie him to the mayor's criminal charges offensive. He also argued that he didn't believe the meeting provided him sufficient due process, so he would consider any vote to unseat him null and void. He ended up not having to back up that threat.
The council was one vote short of the six needed.
That swing vote was Working Families Councilman Luis Cotto, who said he ultimately could not support what he saw as a power grab. But he warned Torres not to ignore what he called an informal vote of no confidence.
"Think about the reality here. Come to a moment of clarity here where you can say that I cannot be an effective president on this body. And I want you to take your time, and I'm not putting any demand, but I would like you to look at this, and think maybe this is not what this city needs."
After the meeting, Torres said he plans to stay put. He says the council will hire its own attorney for advice as the mayor's case develops.