Will the Establishment Democrats Get It?

Will the Establishment Democrats Get It?

Stratford, CT. – When Dr. Immacula Cann entered the mayoral race in Stratford as the Democratic challenger of the incumbent Republican Mayor Laura Hoydick, several key electoral constituencies across the state of Connecticut jubilantly were thrilled with her candidature, particularly African Americans, Haitian Americans and women in politics.

Just like I do, Cann’s supporters see in her campaign strong potential for a socio-structural shift, with the possibility of transformative leadership way beyond Stratford. For some residents, Cann represents a chance to roll out inclusive policies. For others, it is the prospect of a broader and more compassionate approach to health and economic safety net that appeal to them. The urgency of Cann’s message and her evidence-based plans align well with a great number of eligible voters who never voted before.

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party establishment does not get it. For a town where diversity is a foreign concept, for a state with only one black mayor, and considering Dr. Can’s impressive professional accomplishments and life-long civic engagement, one would think that the local and state leadership of the Democratic Party would provide considerable human and financial resources on par with the Republican political machine that controls Stratford politics for almost two decades.

Regrettably, the Democratic Party establishment does not get it. It doesn’t realize that the typical suburban political blueprint is no longer applicable to our changing town. Residents expect a more thoughtful, creative and diligent approach to the many socioeconomic challenges that Stratford faces, especially now as a recently classified distressed municipality.  Cann’s campaign is much more than a small town election affair. It has indeed a wealth of underlying narratives that, if well exploited, could lay the foundation for inspiring changes in Stratford.

A native of Haiti who has been in the United States almost her entire life, Dr. Cann overcame the hurdles of a teenage pregnancy to build a tight-knit family and earn a doctorate in nursing, with a specialization in mental health.  While directing and delivering highly complex health services for the State of Connecticut, she has also managed to be a vocal union and community activist.

From left to right: State Senator Patricia Billie Miller, State Representative Robyn Porter, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Dr. Immacula Cann, State Senator Marilyn Moore and Angelucci Manigat, Jr. (standing) at a fundraiser held for Dr. Immacula Cann on September 26 at the home of Reine C. Boyer and Richard Laporte, in Bridgeport.

If the Democratic Party wants to end its losing streak in Stratford mayoral races, it must look different, much more different than their opposing party. Grassroots organizing has proven to be the viable mean to connect anywhere with masses longing for real, positive changes. In the case of Stratford, grassroots organizing would consist in having boots on the ground before election time to help develop a comprehensive platform that reflects the desiderata of neglected stakeholders such as Black and Brown immigrants, public housing residents, and the Z generation.

Has the Democratic Town Committee even noticed that the Haitian American community has contributed more than $10,000 to Dr. Immacula Cann’s campaign? Last month, civic leaders of the Haitian American community in the greater Stratford area held a lively celebration of five women in politics: Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, State Senator Marilyn Moore, State Senator Patricia Billie Miller, State Representative Robyn Porter and Dr. Immacula Cann. These overlooked facts clearly indicate that Stratford political landscape is changing, and the newcomers are bringing enough new energy to sway outcomes of local elections. Rain or shine!

*Angelucci Manigat, Jr. is the publisher of the Stratford-based print newspaper The Haitian Voice, and a widely consulted media commentator.

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