If one didn’t know of ’s career as a real estate broker, a read through her “Four Year Resurrection Plan” might offer a few hints about her profession.
Several of the proposals in Hopkins-Cavanagh’s 10-point plan involve significant changes to the city’s infrastructure. The first suggestion involves the into and the , with vacated city properties appraised and sold to “tax generating buyers.” Other initiatives include the relocation of residents of the high-rise Thames River Apartments and the razing of those structures; the development of a duty-free port and an “International Shops” commerce destination; the construction of a new, green technology police station at the corner of Bank Street and Howard Street; and the establishment of a vistor’s center in the , with an increased tourism focus including a trolley line between and .
The remaining initiatives in Hopkins-Cavanagh’s plan call for incentives to increase the number of owner-occupied dwellings in the city, the preservation of historic areas and encouragement of mixed use neighborhoods, the dissolution of the , an opposition to land value tax, and an improved relationship between the Board of Education and city. She says she is the only one of six declared mayoral candidates with the experience to take New London through such a transition.
“I’m the only candidate that’s been a CEO,” she said. “I have started two different companies. I understand what a CEO does.”
According to her website, Hopkins-Cavanagh established her first company, Hopkins Advertising & Public Relations, at the age of 25. After representing clients such as Pfizer, Mohegan Sun, Lime Rock Raceway, and General Motors, she turned her focus to real estate, becoming a licensed realtor in 2004 and a broker in 2008, forming in the latter year.
Hopkins-Cavanagh said she would work with to support their efforts to increase-owner occupied housing, as well as mixed-use development at Fort Trumbull. On the issue of those without homes, Hopkins-Cavanah said she supports providing the homeless with services but wants to see other towns in the area do more for their own homeless.
“I’m going to be the lobbyist mayor who says, ‘Stonington, let us help you provide homeless programs in your town. But please don’t send your homeless to our town,’” she said.
She also believes the city’s payroll should be kept at its current level, with no new hirings or layoffs, and that municipal services need to be made more efficient, especially in the . She said there should be immediate training for employees on fair assessment practices, as well as online access to property records to allow residents to understand how the city arrived at their assessment.
“We’re doing business the way we were in 1900…We can’t afford to do business like this,” she said.
Hopkins-Cavanagh said the issue she is most concerned with regarding the is reducing the number of serious incidents, including violence. She said the mayor should work with the public, private, and magnet schools in New London to create strong relationships and encourage business training for students who will not attend college.
“I can change that from the outside in,” she said. “My intent is from the outside in, to support the superintendent and the Board of Ed to make our schools safe.”
Hopkins-Cavanagh said she does not support the , and would like to look at other options. She said the educational model is moving more toward regionalism, with several magnet schools already located in New London, and that could potentially run as a career-based school instead of a traditional one. Education is also one of the seats Hopkins-Cavanagh would establish in a 10-member unpaid advisory committee she would create if elected.
“I want the best and brightest brains around me,” she said.
Regarding the mayor’s relationship with the City Council, Hopkins-Cavanagh said the mayor and councilors should put political agendas aside to work together. She said inconsistencies in the City Charter must also be corrected to prevent problems in areas such as disaster response. Hopkins-Cavanagh said she would do a nationwide search to select her chief administrative officer.
“It’s not a political job for me. A lot of politicians are going to give that to their buddy,” she said. “I don’t want that. I want the best person for the job.”
Hopkins-Cavanagh has opposed the sale of a portion of to the , and proposed an alternative which she says will lead to numerous benefits for the city. This plan would relocate residents of the Thames River Apartments, demolish these high-rise public housing structures, and retain the park while having the academy . Hopkins-Cavanagh says this plan will allow for improved housing for those living in the high-rises, revitalize Hodges Square, and reconnect northern New London with downtown. She says she has been talking with the academy superintendent about the proposal.
“This is not a pipe dream, this is a reality,” she said.
Sue Shontell, executive director of the New London Public Housing Authority, has . Shontell says the high-rises are on federal property, and that Hopkins-Cavanagh would be unable to determine policy related to them. She said a proposal is currently in the planning stage to remove some of the high-rises and put in a low-income neighborhood on the site. Hopkins-Cavanagh in turn criticized Shontell, saying that concentrating public housing at the site will lead to continued crime and neighborhood degradation.
“I have no personal stake in this other than to save a whole section of New London,” she said. “I don’t have any financial benefit to this.”
Hopkins-Cavanagh has also weathered criticism over her residency. According to an article on the Waterford Patch, Hopkins-Cavanagh proved she had moved herself and her children into a Waterford home after the school district began investigating whether she was living in New London and sending her children to the Waterford schools.
Hopkins-Cavanagh that her son attended through second grade, at which point she moved him into the Waterford system. She said her husband has a residence in Waterford and his daughter attended the schools there, and that they did not want to separate her from the school's support services after the death of her mother. Lori said she and her husband made the decision to send her son to the Waterford school as well to keep the children together.
“I have been a resident of New London for more years than any other candidate,” she said. “Fifty-one years to be exact.”
Hopkins-Cavanagh attended the and St. Bernard High School and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1983. She also attended the University of New Haven but left to start her advertising company. Hopkins-Cavanagh was also a founding board member of and served on the boards of several non-profits, including Better Business Bureau, Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, , , and the YWCA.
A new profile on each mayoral candidate will post every weekday through Oct. 17. Tomorrow, the profile will be on Andrew Lockwood.