Valentine suggests he would ‘get rid of’ Stamford’s affordable units initiative and create a housing fund


STAMFORD – Unaffiliated mayoral candidate Bobby Valentine answered questions from black residents for an hour and a half on Monday evening, offering his thoughts on issues such as affordable housing, youth programs and community policing.

A dozen people came to Shining Star Lodge No. 303 on the city’s West Side for the event, including a few supporters of Valentine’s opponent, Democratic State Representative Caroline Simmons. Guy Fortt, a Valentine’s Day campaign volunteer who took a leave of absence earlier this year from his position as president of the Stamford NAACP, hosted the event with a community group called The Fellas.

As soon as the former Major League Baseball manager arrived – and after apologizing for being about half an hour late, saying he was held up at a fundraising event for the non-profit organization Future 5 – forum participants launched a series of questions on one of Stamford’s most debated issue: housing.

Valentine told attendees he believes the city should prioritize homeownership opportunities like condominiums over apartment buildings like the ones that have sprung up in Stamford over the past decade.

“The only way to build a community – a whole community, a community that has schools and kids, parents who send their kids to your schools, retail stores … way to do that is with ownership,” did he declare.

Valentine then suggested that his administration could “get rid of” the long-standing below-market housing initiative implemented by the government of the day. Dannel Malloy in the early 2000s. The program requires all apartment buildings in the city with more than 10 units to create dedicated housing for people earning up to 80 percent of the region’s median income established by the federal government.

“It’s a BS term,” Valentine said of government-mandated affordable housing, which he said was not really affordable for everyone. “We need to build affordable housing for everyone who wants to own a home, for all socio-economic income levels. “

Instead of below-market housing, Valentine’s solution focused on creating an affordable housing fund, which people could apply for for low-interest loans or other financial aid. . Earlier this year, Stamford launched a similar initiative – the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Beyond housing, several residents have expressed concerns about the city’s youth and access to free after-school programs. Valentine said he understood the importance of such programs on a personal level.

“My father worked all day, every day. My mother worked five days a week. I was the only one in trouble. Fortunately, I had after-school programs at the time… which kept me busy, ”said Valentine.

He said the mayor needs to pressure businesses that come to Stamford to invest in community centers, programs and parks.

Valentine was also asked about the Stamford Police Department’s relationship with minority communities and police accountability. Stamford Police Union leaders backed Valentine last month.

He said there needed to be more opportunities for residents to interact with officers when not in uniform so officers could “be seen as real people and see everyone as real. people”.

At points in the forum, Valentine pointed out that he grew up in the city and attended Stamford public schools, and argued that people should vote for him based on his character and interest. for the city.

The conversation took a tense turn when a participant, Stamford NAACP Treasurer Joyce Griffin, posed several questions to Valentine. After Monday’s event, the Valentine campaign declared Griffin to be a supporter of Simmons. Griffin could not be reached for comment.

“The question is, do we need another 70-year-old to run the city? Griffin asked Valentine. Simmons, who is 35, would be the first woman to become mayor of Stamford if elected.

“Well, you’ll have to decide,” said Valentin.

The race for mayor of Stamford will be decided in November.

Griffin then referred to Valentine’s past affiliation as a Republican. She asked Valentine if he was registered with the party during the attack on the United States Capitol in January. According to Stamford Voter Registrars, Valentine changed her registration to unaffiliated in April.

“I don’t know why this matters,” Valentine said in response to Griffin’s question.

“Well, that matters to me. It matters to me because you’re going to bring with you certain values, certain thoughts, certain ways of doing things that might be uncomfortable,” Griffin said, adding, “It’s a thing. to have been brought up in Stamford, and that’s good and good, but why should we be comfortable with you if that’s the only thing you can offer? “

“Looks like you’ve been drinking Kool Aid,” Valentine said, later adding that he meant the question about his previous affiliation as a Republican was “pushed by the other side.”

He also asked Griffin, “Don’t you think it’s a little unfair to try to judge me by saying that I’m a Republican or that I’m a 70 year old man? Don’t you feel… that you are prejudiced against me and that you don’t really understand who I am? Not who I am. Who I am should be what you vote for, not who I am.

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