J.Stan McCauley is a familiar face in Hartford. He ran for Mayor in 2007 and has recently announced his candidacy for the Mayor's Office in the 2011 election. McCauley can also be seen on a regular basis on Public Television on Channel 5. We feel like we usually catch him on late Sunday nights, and his shows can be watched online here. McCauley was nice enough to give Sad City a few moments of his time and answer some of our questions this weekend. The unedited interview after the jump.
1) Tell us a little about your background. Did you grow up in Hartford? What neighborhood(s) have you lived in Hartford?
I was born in Pittsburg PA, and grew up in Hilltown PA about 45 miles north of Philadelphia. Oddly enough 45 miles outside of Philly is still Philadelphia, unlike here in Hartford where 45 feet over the city line is a Totally different world.
I attended Pennridge senior high school and was the only minority in my graduating class of 425. I was raised by a child psychiatrist aka Mom, and my Father was the Director of Maintenance for Altar Airlines, so I spent a lot of time at Philadelphia International Airport and around airplanes. I have one sister and my last name is the maiden name of a civil rights icon who I believe is a distant relative and may help explain the McCauley mindset to never take a back seat to anyone. My Mom and Dad always taught my sister and I to “never play follow the leader unless you are the leader”. My parents were concerned with making sure we were developing a strong moral and ethical barometer. I try to live by that motto and believe that I offer Hartford a chance at moral leadership grounded in experience.
Just before graduating from the Upper Bucks County School of Aviation Maintenance Technology, our class toured Pratt and Whitney's East Hartford military engine final assembly line. After the tour was over, all of us guys came to Hartford. I knew right then that this is where I wanted to live. I was 19 and I applied to work at Pratt, at that time. Three weeks later I got the Job, moved to Hartford and it has been a wonderful adventure ever since.
I moved here in the 1979 right before the 80's during one of Hartford's many turn-arounds. I lived Downtown for many years in the Richardson Building back when it was the “in place” to be. When I moved in many of the floors were not finished being built out. I remember thinking that the penthouse at $950.00 a month was too expensive. I've lived in Billing's Forge, Historic Columbus Street, Fairfield Ave, Lisbon Street, and Asylum Ave. My wife and our children now call the Historic Colt's Building in the Sheldon/Charter Oaks neighborhood home. I know the city intimately.
2) In 2011 you are running for Mayor as a Democrat. In 2007 you ran as a Republican. What brought on the party switch? Did the parties philosophically change or did your political views change?
The Republican Party gave me the opportunity to lead the ticket for the 2007 municipal race and it gave me my first exposure to electoral politics.
After I lost the election in 2007 it also became clear that the Republican party does not have an agenda or a plan to address the issues the face the North-end of Hartford. Which is to say that if double digit unemployment in Hartford's North-end is not dealt with in a substantive results oriented way, the problems that face the whole of Hartford have not been solved and no amount of money will turn Hartford around. It is also my opinion that Republican and Democrat policy positions in Hartford are one in the same for a number of issues. The political reality is that the Democrats will decide which Republicans will be elected.
Party affiliation is a means to an end, or a fix to the problem. The issue is the fix, and the means to fix the problem is moral leadership, governance, sound judgment and decision making. Every decision in Hartford is a political decision. Those decisions are being made by corrupt political leaders influenced by corrupt interests and agendas and not by the people who at the end of the day are affected by those decisions. So it is not my views that have changed, it is my observation that the political landscape that has changed.
My objective is to fix the problem; therefore, I'm running as a Democrat. My platform is quite simple: economic development, jobs, moral leadership (which means improved governance and sound judgment), reduced crime, improved education and experience to make it happen.
3) Tell us a couple of your favorite spots in Hartford to grab a bite to eat or a drink.
I like pancakes, burgers, and a good steak! There are 3 places to go for pancakes: The Cozy Spot in the North-end, Ashley's in Mid-town, and Allegro's on the South-side. For pizza and Stromboli it's George's on Park Street and for the Philly Cheese Steaks it's Pietro's Pizza at 942 Main Street.
I have yet to find a good melt in your mouth burger. For steak there is only one place in town, Morton's who by the way has a to die for Chocolate Mousse Cake.
4) On your campaign website you refer to a plan to bring 2,500 jobs to Hartford and state that to get details on the plan, one has to sit down and break bread with you so you can answer the hard questions. While this kind of access is admirable in a candidate for office, don’t you think a lot of potential voters are missing out on your message with this approach?
I will at some point in the very near future unveil the Blueprint with fanfare and details, but for right now it will have to be one on one. If sad City would like, I'll sit down with you soon and answer your questions and you can publish the answers.
5) You list yourself as founder and C.O.O. of AccessTV.Org and we also see you on Channel 5 at night. Tell us about your television broadcasts.
Well there are about 20 different shows that I am directly associated with, but the shows that I think you are talking about are the ones that I host or appear on as a guest. Those would be: One Hartford, Light Source Victory Television, The Walk in the Light Radio Broadcast, and Real Talk.
I believe that the first amendment is the single most important freedom that we have in this country and it is the reason why I have spent the last 30 years giving people a voice even if I don't agree with the message. I believe there are two subjects that most people don't want to talk about, politics and religion. They are the two subjects that affect people everyday and everywhere but most people are totally unaware of this. So I set out to talk about both, and at that, both at the same time.
After my decision to put everything on the line and run for Mayor the need to separate the subjects became clear, and so you now see me host a Political show called One Hartford which has been on for 3 years with 150 episodes; and a bible study program called Light Source Victory Television, which has been on the air here in Hartford for 24 years with over 4000 episodes. The other programs you see me on I appear as an invited guest.
6) What were your thoughts on the Eddie Perez and Abraham Giles scandals? Did these surprise you? What sort of steps would you take if elected to to curb corruption in politics?
My question to everyone is this: what did you know, when did you know, and what did you do about it? I publicly, in multiple forums, called for the former mayor to step down. I was very vocal in my comments on both Eddie Perez and Abraham Giles. Scandals like this are bound to come when you have a legislative body that refuses to step up to the plate and hold the Mayor accountable. The city council was made a conscious decision to either looked the other way, where co-conspirators, or where blinded by friendship.
If I knew what was going on how could they not have known? Any elected official serving during the Perez administration that was unaware of the level of corruption and surprised with the eventual outcome is not fit to lead the city. This type of corruption can be kept in check if the Mayor and all parties adhere to the City Charter. Corruption is a direct outward manifestation of anindividual’s character. An open transparent office of the Mayor will go very far to curb corruption in Hartford City Hall and my Administration will be open and transparent.
7a) What is your assessment on Mayor Segarra’s performance in his first few months in office?
It is my never to be humble opinion that the Mayor has done fairly well, but against the back drop of his predecessor a C+ would look like an A+ so out of respect for the office I will leave it at that. My goal is to quite frankly provide A+ leadership, vision and jobs.
7b) What would you have done differently if you were thrust into the Mayor’s position as Mayor Segarra was?
Taking your hypothetical question literally I must assume that I would have been the Council President. That said, I would have been ready to assume the roll of Mayor after the second arrest. To who much is given, much is required and being Council President means you might become the Mayor. So to me there is no acceptable excuse for not being ready day one.
I would have identified key staff and department heads that would stay and would have had replacements for those that would be dismissed by my side at the press conference on the day I assumed power. I would have called for an immediate top to bottom review of the cities finances and a full audit of the city's human resource capacity.
I would have assembled all city staff at the city largest high school auditorium and talked to my employees about our shared responsibilities to serve that citizens of the city and I would haveprovided the moral leadership needed to lead Hartford away from the scandals that have given it such a black eye.
I would have never said I was not running for office. I would have never said that I was going to get rid of staff and then not do it. In politics your word is your bond and trust built upon ones word the gold standard of political capital.
Apart from that it is hard to say more because I would need to know more of what the Mayor has done in detail.
8) When did you first become aware of Sad City? Do you read it often? What have been some of your favorite features on the site?
I became aware of your blog after an anti violence rally that I spoke at. My favorite feature was the one you did on the different places to shop for food in Hartford. I really spend a lot of time on line working on www.accesstv.org and www.mccauleyformayor.com so I'm not doing a lot of web activity beyond that these days.
9) If elected to the Mayor’s office would you continue to appear on Channel 5 or your AccessTV website? Do you think such programs could be an effective means for a Mayor to communicate with their constituents?
I think it is essential to give the constituents of Hartford the ability to address and redress their Government. I have spent the better part of my life making free speech possible for people throughout the city and have personally trained thousands to use the facility that I designed, raised money for, and built. Hartford Public Access Television's Studio and Broadcast station on Sargent street where I was the Executive Director and CEO for many years is the perfect vehicle to do such a show and I will commit on your blog to doing a live weekly call-in show once I'm elected and have already identified many key staff and department heads. It is already a make happen priority for my McCauley Administration's Director of Communications. It was a campaign promise in 2007 and remains one now.
People can ask questions just like the ones you have asked in this interview. It is one of the ways that I will provide open, transparent, and accountable government. I'm sure that if I don't keep this promise you guys will do your job as the press and be all over it.
10) "There is a general consensus in the media that your look and mannerisms are reminiscent of actor Jaleel White (TV's Steve Urkel). How do you feel about that?
I assume that by Urkel you really mean his alter ego. If so I am not offended in the least. I guess people are not use to articulate smart genius types and sense there are so few references to them in Pop Culture, I'll have to settle for Urkel and his alter ego until the media is ready to see J. Stan McCauley as J. Stan McCauley. As you can see I don't suffer from thin skin or lack of self-esteem.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions and I look forward to the day that I can be responsible for turning Sad City into Glad City.
God bless you, your blog, and the city of Hartford.
J. Stan McCauley
We at Sad City thank Mr. McCauley for his time and wish him the best of luck.