Tags: MidPoint | Erin Stewart | youngest mayor | New Britain | Connecticut

Nation's Youngest Mayor: 'I Love What I Do'

By    |   Monday, 02 Feb 2015 03:52 PM

The pay isn't great and the challenges are numerous, but Erin Stewart, the 27-year-old Republican believed to be the youngest mayor in America, told Newsmax TV on Monday that she loves being at the helm of New Britain, Connecticut, population 73,000, and isn't thinking about a political future.

"You're going to give me a heart attack live on air," Stewart joked when asked by "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner about seeking higher office. "I'm so focused on my job right now. I love what I do. I love the city of New Britain, and I love making a difference here every day."

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"If it's in the cards for me, then it is," she said of running for something besides mayor. "But as for right now I'm just kind of going with the flow."

Stewart was elected mayor in 2013 at age 26 in an overwhelmingly Democrat city, and has also made headlines for taming New Britain's budget deficit through spending cuts and a property tax increase.

She was not a political neophyte: She had already served on numerous city commissions and boards, including the board of education, and her father was mayor of New Britain for eight years.

"So I wouldn't say I completely knew what the job entailed, but I certainly knew what I was getting into," said Stewart.

The city in central Connecticut near Hartford has struggled, like many cities in the region, with a shrinking industrial job base.

Stewart said she has relied on her everyday ties to the community to connect with voters and constituents.

"The thing about New Britain is, they don't vote for people in their local elections based on the party," she said. "They vote on the people that they know, the people they feel comfortable with. My family's been in this town for hundreds of years. We have a lot of connections, whether it's through Little Leagues: my cousins are all coaches; I was a softball coach.

"We know the families, we know the people," said Stewart. "But the most important thing that resonates with folks is when you're just honest with them. I would always say to them, look, Democrat, Republican, it doesn't matter. Here's what I want to do for this city. We've got to get our finances back under control, we've got to start talking positively about what we have to offer, and we've got to make some serious considerations and what we can do to bring new business in.

"I'm happy to say that in the past year and a half that I've been there, we've done that," said Stewart. "We've been honest with everyone. And they haven't been always the most popular decisions, but if you're communicating with people, they can understand it and they appreciate you so much more for that."

As a single Republican woman in her 20s who is deeply involved in politics, she admitted that she's something of an outlier.

"People in my generation are more concerned about getting their careers in order and making money." she said. "And politics certainly isn't a business where you make money: I'm learning that first-hand right now."

But Stewart said that "having younger candidates inspires millennials to take an interest in the political process," and she pointed to her own mayoral campaign as an example.

Young people "helped volunteer for me, simply because someone their age was involved, and that got them involved by default," she said. "So as we start to see more millennial candidates come up, you'll see much more millennials taking an interest in the process."

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Erin Stewart, the 27-year-old Republican believed to be the youngest mayor in America, told Newsmax TV on Monday that she loves being at the helm of New Britain, Connecticut, population 73,000, and isn't thinking about a political future.
Erin Stewart, youngest mayor, New Britain, Connecticut
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Monday, 02 Feb 2015 03:52 PM
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