HAMDEN—After three-term Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson announced he was leaving office to take a position in the state’s Office of Policy and Management, questions arose about who would be leading the town government.
Fox CT has learned what’s next for Hamden’s town leadership.
Legislative Council President Jim Pascarella (D) will be taking over as interim mayor on April 17, the same day Jackson leaves to take the Under Secretary for Intergovernmental Policy position.
Then a special election will be held to choose the permanent mayor, who will serve out the rest of the term (until the normal November election).
According to the Town Charter, that special election is expected to occur within 45 days of the mayor’s resignation (or by June 1).
Two life-long Hamden residents have officially announced their interest in running in the special election – One Republican and One Democrat, according to the chairmen of the two parties.
Republican Bob Anthony and Democrat Curt Balzano Leng say they want to run in both the special election and the general election.
Interim Mayor Jim Pascarella
Being mayor “will be a challenge considering the individual I will be following. It is so brief that my objective would be to keep the town running smoothly,” Pascarella said.
Pascarella enjoys his fulltime work as the owner of Orange Insurance Center in Orange, so he said he is ready to fulfill his responsibility as interim mayor, but he doesn’t have interest in running the town on a permanent basis.
Pascarella will be interim mayor for up to 45 days.
Democratic Candidate Curt Balzano Leng
“It’s important right now ... to fill out the remainder of mayor Jackson’s term and work on the important issues,” Leng said. “We have a lot of issues that need someone that has been in the room.”
Leng is Chief Administrative Officer of the town of Hamden—which he describes as the mayor’s right hand man. Jackson previously held this position before he became mayor.
“Curt really does know the letters of Government,” Pascarella said. “He is really experienced in all aspects of municipal government. He can certainly do the job and do it well.”
Leng previously served on the Legislative Council for ten years.
“I have been working on the town financial issues for well over a decade and will from day one keep that as our primary objective in the mayors office,” Leng said. “The next thing-- I would focus very much on community building.”
Some of the financial issues he would focus on are pension reform, capitol improvement projects and constituent issues, Leng said.
“He’s very smart, he’s articulate,” Democratic party chairman Lew Panzo said of Leng. “He was in politics for 15 years. He did an admirable job as councilman.”
Leng and his wife, Stefanie, have been married for 12 years and they have one 5-year-old son.
Republican Candidate Bob Anthony
“I am a fiscal conservative,” Anthony, 65, said. “I think we’re spending too much money. People are hurting tax wise.”
After retiring from the fire department after 26 years, he now enjoys fishing, bowling, golfing and managing funds for the Uniform Professional Firefighters of Connecticut union, as treasurer.
“He has been in the town of Hamden for a long time yes he has a good idea of what’s going on in town,” said Hamden Republican Town Committee Chairman Lee Campo of Anthony.
“We need more police officers, firefighters, and teachers,” but he said the town needs to lower its debt before it can make more hires.
Increasing the tax base by bringing new businesses to Hamden is one solution he provided.
“I think we need to seriously address crime in this town,” Anthony said. He admitted that the chief of Hamden police has stated that crime is down in town, but he said he heard many reports that the crimes that are happening are even more serious than before.
Anthony enjoys his time with his “little one,” his girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter. He has been together with his girlfriend Pamela Bartiet for eight years.
Mayor Jackson’s legacy
As Jackson moves on, politicians from both sides of the aisle wish him the best.
“I congratulate him on [the new position],” Anthony said. “I think he will do a good job on it. He’s been here for five years; that’s a long time to be mayor.”
“I can’t think of a better choice—Scott is extraordinarily bright,” Pascarella said. “His breadth of knowledge is astounding. It was really a pleasure to have him as a mayor and to work with him.”
“We’re going to miss him in Hamden,” Panzo said. “He’s done a lot of good stuff for us over the years.”