By: Baby Cornish & Selena Moore
Frederick, Md. and Detroit, Mich.
At the forefront of Caroline Simmons’s bid to become mayor of Stamford, Connecticut, is a topic that has dominated the nation-al conversation in recent months: public health.
“This is everything from mothers facing mental health issues and stressors that relate to environmental injustice, and also the adverse health effects we see from air pollution,” Simmons said in a July press conference with The Princeton Summer Journal. As a mother herself, Simmons said, she particularly cares about combating environmental injustices that contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth.
According to Simmons, a Democrat, infrastructure is crucial to her agenda of achieving environmental and economic justice, and as mayor, she would have “shovel-ready projects” lined up. She said she plans to work with Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to secure state and federal funding. “I would have a Stamford plan to combat climate change and re-build our infrastructure in a more sustainable way,” Simmons said.
Elected as a state law-maker in 2014, Simmons challenged incumbent Mayor David Martin for the Democratic nomination, resulting in her endorsement by Stamford’s Democratic City Committee by two votes, 21-19. Despite Martin’s loss, he can force a primary by gathering 5 percent of the city’s registered Democrats’ signatures. No Republican has announced a campaign for mayor, the Stamford Advocate reported, though former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine is running as an unaffiliated candidate.
As the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, Simmons said she hopes to grow Stamford’s population. Prior to the pandemic, she said, the city was losing residents to New York and Boston, but as the country shifted to remote work, Stamford began to see an influx of young people from those very cities.
However, this disproportionately white demo-graphic of remote workers could harm Stamford’s diversity. The city is roughly half-white, a quarter Latino, 14 percent Black, and 9 percent Asian. “Another one of my priorities,” Sim-mons said, “is to continue to support that vibrancy and diversity that we have in Stamford and making sure that we’re a welcoming city.”
Amid nationwide protests demanding an end to police brutality, Simmons called for strengthening police-community relations. “It means recruiting police officers from the neighborhoods that they’re serving,” she said. She also emphasized the need for officers to forge trust with communities of color who’ve “been targeted and unfairly burdened with police hostility for years.”
Will these ideas prove enough for Simmons to become Stamford’s first female mayor? That question is one voters will likely have to answer on November 2.