- Population (2003): 61,426
- Registered Voters (est.): 38,800
- U.S. Congressional District: 1st (Rep. John Larson-D)
- State Senate Districts: 5th (Sen. John Harris-D)
- State House Districts: 18 (Rep. Andrew Flesichmann-D); 19 (Rep. Robert Farr-R); 20 (Rep. David McClusky-D)
- 2004 Presidential Vote:
John Kerry: 21,612
George W. Bush: 11,641
- 2004 Congressional Vote:
John Larson (D): 23,169
John Halstead (R): 7,536
- Form of government: Council/manager
- Town Council: Controlled by Democrats
- Mayor: Scott Silfka (D)
Apart from oversize yard signs, the 2005 election will be interesting to watch because of two independents. Normally, independent candidates, while interesting, don't gather many votes. This may also be the case in West Hartford, but the presence of at least one of these two independents may help to slant the race in a certain direction.
Joseph Visconti was one of the loudest and most recognizable detractors of the Blue Back Square development project, and helped to lead the ultimately unsuccessful fight against it. Blue Back Square is a redevelopment project in West Hartford Center which was approved by a large majority of voters. Twice. If you aren't a West Hartford resident, that's really all you need or want to know about it. Visconti initially tried to get on to the Republican ticket as a candidate for town council, but couldn't muster enough votes at the town convention. He is now running as an independent.
What does this mean? Well, it might mean that those people in town (and they do exist) who still despise Blue Back Square might vote for him instead of one of the Republican candidates (the project was hatched by the Democratic town council), feeling that the WHGOP has abandoned them (which it has). This could help secure another two years of Democratic control. Given the large majorities who voted for the project, it's unlikely that Visconti will actually win a seat on the council.
The other independent candidate is a Republican who was often criticized for voting with Democrats. She decided to take herself off the Republican ticket before the convention. She probably won't win, either. There is no shortage of actual Democrats in West Hartford.
What we seem to be seeing in West Hartford is a rudderless, fractured Republican Party competing against a creaky, top-heavy Democratic monolith. West Hartford's political landscape is very like Connecticut's in miniature.
Given that, Democrats ought to retain control of the council with ease.