MERIDEN — Finding himself without a party-nominated opponent this year, incumbent Mayor Kevin Scarpati says he’s eager to continue work on key projects to revitalize the city while addressing a recent spike in gun violence and what he considers a lack of transparency at City Hall.
Scarpati is seeking his third consecutive two-year term, running again as an unaffiliated candidate with the endorsement of the city’s Democratic party, as he did in his previous two bids. Scarpati says he’s running for re-election because he feels Meriden still has “a lot of work to do.”
“We have a lot of projects that we’ve accomplished over the last several years and as you look around and drive through the city there’s a lot to be proud of,” said Scarpati, 30. “... But there’s a number of issues that we need to take care of.”
Specifically, Scarpati wants to see through several large redevelopment projects, including the city’s former hospital at 1 King Place, and work with public safety officials to address a recent “spike in gun violence.”
Whether Republicans feel Scarpati has done a good job “depends on the issue,” Republican Town Chairman Guy Beeman said after the party’s nominating convention this past summer. Ultimately, the party didn’t feel compelled to put up a challenger, he added.
Scarpati does face a Republican opponent, however.
Registered Republican Ernestine Holloway petitioned onto the ballot as a candidate for both mayor and City Council after failing to secure her party’s nomination.
Holloway previously ran for mayor as a petitioning candidate in 2017, receiving 520 votes and finishing a distant third in a three-way race against Scarpati (4,128 votes) and Republican nominee Irene Masse (2,773 votes).Transparency, clean water
Scarpati in recent weeks has raised issues about a “lack of transparency” in City Hall, which he plans to work with city staff to rectify. Scarpati most notably criticized Finance Director Michael Lupkas at a meeting last month for transferring grant funds from one project to another without council approval, an action that the Law Department later determined violated City Charter.
“We need to do better,” Scarpati said.
Holloway, 50, was licensed and ordained by Refuge Temple Council of Churches and has been an evangelist pastor for over 30 years. She has lived in Meriden for about 15 years and considers herself an advocate for many community members, including children and domestic violence victims.
Holloway spends much of her time interacting with residents while riding the bus or shopping at the supermarket and is running because she feels she has a better read on the pulse of the city and the needs of residents. In addition to running for mayor, Holloway is also running for an at-large seat on the council. If she wins both races, she would have to choose which office to assume, according to the city clerk’s office.
“I wasn’t happy with either party, and I wasn’t happy with some of the people running it. I think that Meriden deserves better,” Holloway said about her decision to run.
Holloway wants the city to prioritize improving the quality of drinking water, which she claims contains too much chlorine.
She also opposes bonding for large capital projects and says the city should be more transparent with the public about how much interest it pays when bonding projects.
“Instead of bonding for all these special projects, why don’t we bond to fix the water,” Holloway said. “If we have clean water, people will come because we’ll be one of the towns that actually have clean water.”
Holloway would look to trim expenses by going through each department’s budget and cutting things the city doesn’t absolutely need.
She wants to address the recent string of shooting incidents by bringing city departments together, including fire, police, and the Board of Education.
More than anything, Holloway said she wants to be a servant for the community.
“A great leader must be a servant, and I am willing to serve Meriden,” she said.