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Mayor Candidate Profile: Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh

Real estate broker hopes to shake things up

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.

Allyn de Vars October 12, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Lori, I've paid my water bill in person, even though the very expensive 44 cent stamp would get it there quite easily. When I was on crutches from a hockey injury, I entered the complex from the ample parking lot at the senior center, entered from the handicapped accessible entrance of the senior center and rode up the elevator from the senior center. Perhaps it pays to know city facilities before suggesting millions upon millions of upgrades and wholesale replacement of facilities.
Allyn de Vars October 12, 2011 at 10:53 PM
Scare tactics may work in marketing and advertisement, but once a reader actually does some research on Land Value Tax, they will realize that your claims are a crock Lori. Your claims of hostile and immoral seizure make me wonder what conspiracy you buy into for the assassination of JFK. The reality is that Land Value Taxation focuses purely on the value of the land, and not the improvements upon the land. This would cause people who either choose not to maintain their properties, or use their vacant downtown structures as a tax write-off to either improve the utilization of their properties or to sell the properties since they would face the same taxation as a fully utilized property of equal land mass in their zone. Your attempt to scare readers using threats of eminent domain and the elderly and the poor only prove that you are not the leadership New London needs.
Allyn de Vars October 12, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Pointing out the low level of home ownership in New London is hardly a new concept. I was a member of the committee responsible for the periodic revisions to the New London Plan for Conservation and Development a few years ago, and while that plan has largely been ignored by the likes of currently elected leaders like Rob Pero, and Marty Olsen, the document clearly states the value in retaining our open spaces and parks, as well as considering additional rental residential properties in town as undesirable as we would prefer to encourage individual homeownership. As to the remainder of you comment Ms. Stewart, your ignorance is deafening. Relocating for educational pursuits when someone is in their 20's is hardly jumping around, and his last two moves were when he moved to Waterford to live with his spouse, and then to New London, when they bought a larger home together. Further, your slanderous accusation of copying shows you've not only not read the document "A Vision for New London", but that you're likely just following the advice of your pal Lori.
Allyn de Vars October 12, 2011 at 11:31 PM
Ann, I know Daryl and his partner Todd personally. Their residence is 777 Ocean Avenue, and it is owned in the name of Daryl's partner, Todd Ledbetter. It is all public record, and as a couple, they chose to put the property in his partner's sole name--no different than many other married couples. As to what you've "heard", the facts are that Daryl does not have any family member who is on the payroll of the City of New London, has one cousin by marriage through his father's family who is on the Democratic Town Committee. My advice to you is to fact check before speaking publicly.
--Robert October 12, 2011 at 11:58 PM
I'm absolutely certain that if a property owner found unwanted signs on their property, they could easily correct that. Throw the signs away, call or email the campaign that produced them so they could be picked up, give them away to a neighbor. It's silly season for politics, and not just in this race. People put signs where they do not belong (public property) and pranksters move signs around. I've heard of unwanted signs for a certain write-in candidate being placed as well. Easily fixed without offense. Support who you want, I'll support who I want, and enjoy watching democracy in action. Thin-skinned hostile people should chill out.

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