Second Democrat explores run for mayor

Beth Daponte, Stratford DTC vice-chairman

Stratford Democratic Town Committee Vice-Chairman Beth Daponte has formed an exploratory committee for a potential run for mayor this fall.

She joins Joe Paul, who announced his exploratory committee in early March, as a potential Democratic candidate to challenge incumbent Mayor John A. Harkins.

Daponte is a mother of three school children, a PhD in sociology from University of Chicago, a former teacher at Yale’s School of Management, a former chief of section at the United Nations in New York City, which evaluated Peacekeeping forces for efficiency, and she is the owner of Social Science Consultants in Stratford. She also serves on the Sterling House council.

One of Daponte’s three children goes to Stratford Public Schools; the other two are at private school.

She told The Star that it is important for Stratford’s leader to be a Democrat so there are good relations with the Democrats who predominantly lead in Hartford and in representing Stratford in Washington, D.C.

“The town needs a change in direction,” said Daponte. “It’s important to be in synch with the rest of the state’s leaders. Just being part of the discussion or any time you need help.”

The Democratic hopeful said she wants to run for mayor because there is an issue with what she called “transparency.”

Daponte said she thinks the town needs more openness with its decision-making. Mayor Harkins “was not open as a state rep, so it’s not surprising he does not have open hours now.”

Goals that Daponte would prioritize for the town include economic development, beautification, “keeping natural resources secure,” and making sure Stratford is a “wonderful place to live and raise a family.”

“We can use arts on economic development,” she said, “It is embarrassing that this administration has not strongly been behind the (Shakespeare) theater. We need to jumpstart Shakespeare.” Her first job as a 14-year-old was at the  Shakespeare Theatre.

Strength in education may run in Daponte’s veins. She is the daughter of current Stratford Board of Education member Janice Daponte, and her husband is a full professor of economics at Yale.

Daponte attended Stratford Public Schools before earning degrees from a Boston University and U. of Chicago.

The DTC vice-chair described herself as “an evaluator,” when it comes to finding how organizations can be more efficient and effective.

That bring-efficiency-to-government theme is one that Paul also declares as a character strength.

The Democratic Town Committee will nominate its candidate in July. If any Democrat other than the nominee wishes to run against Harkins the person would need to satisfy a petition requirement to have a party primary in September.

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