Immacula Jo Cann, Stratford Mayoral Candidate

[Editor’s Note: on November 2nd Stratford residents will head to the polls to vote in a municipal election. As part of the Stratford Crier’s mission of keeping residents informed we will be running bios of those running for office.]

My dad, when I was growing up, always told us, “Whatever you do, have fun.” He didn’t mean to shy away from hard work, nor have I. He meant that anything worth doing should be done with the fullness of the human spirit, that satisfaction could (and should) be derived even from the most daunting of tasks.

I’ve taken that lesson with me my entire life, and never has it had more meaning than now, as I run to be the next Mayor of Stratford and become the first woman of color to hold that position in our town’s nearly 400-year history.

My father’s words guided me when, as a young mother, I worked my way through nursing school as a caterer, when I took my first job in health care, and when I decided to pursue my master’s. It was in my mind, too, when I accepted a new position as a nurse administrator responsible for hundreds of patients and a million dollar budget. In short, it means that I’ve never done anything halfway.

Make no mistake, Stratford needs a leader who doesn’t do things halfway. Our current mayor has seen to that. Despite our town’s tremendous natural advantages, she’s landed us on the state’s list of “economically distressed” towns, and left millions of dollars worth of improvement projects years behind schedule.

And, instead of holding herself accountable to voters, she worked with her Republican allies to redraw council districts and dilute the power of anyone who dares say “Wait, there’s a better way for Stratford.” She’s doubled down on this misplaced attitude with her refusal to hold public hearings on the millions in federal aid secured by Democrats in D.C.

She seems to see public input as an inconvenience. I, on the other hand, see it as invaluable. How can we tackle the challenges in Stratford’s path if not together? How can we, divided, ever hope to find the joy of accomplishment my dad taught me as a child and get Stratford back on the right path?

The answer is, we can’t. We have to come together.

Republican officials, both here and nationally, have found great political advantage in division. When we talk about acknowledging and valuing diversity, they distort it into an “us vs. them” mentality. But the simple fact is if we can improve the lot of our most disadvantaged, we’re making life better for everyone. A rising tide lifts all boats, not just a fortunate few.

As your mayor, I’ll devote all of my energy to improving the lives of Stratford’s constituents. Economically, with investment and a smart, equitable, and inclusive budget process. Socially, by acknowledging the importance of education and a good school system (Stratford spends more per pupil for poorer results than surrounding towns). And practically, by ensuring a transparent, responsive government that doesn’t treat its citizens as an inconvenience.

Running for mayor is hard, but I’m following my dad’s advice and finding joy in the hard work. Talking to voters, exploring new solutions to old problems, and never giving up — that’s what a leader does. Every day, I’m excited to get out on the campaign trail, and listen to people just like you tell me about their lives, and the ways real leadership in Town Hall could make a difference. I know with all my heart that together we can build a better future for Stratford.

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