NEW BRITAIN – Mayor Erin Stewart is back at City Hall after being on a six-week maternity leave and the speedometer on her workload just keeps climbing.
“I didn’t really leave completely. I was around for emails and social media, and now I’m thinking if I actually did leave completely, the work pile would be worse,” she said with a laugh.
Her daughter, Lina, was born on July 26 and the mayor has been spending a lot of time bonding with her over the last several weeks. Having her first child born during a pandemic was one of the most stressful experiences Stewart has ever had and she said it makes one play through every potential scenario that could happen.
“I keep thinking, what if I get the coronavirus? What happens if the baby gets it?” Stewart said. “It really makes you think twice about going above and beyond in staying safe and healthy. Being pregnant is a life changer to begin with, but on top of that you’re really thinking twice about every public building that you go and people you see. I didn’t want to take any chances.”
But ultimately, the mayor still has a lot of work that she has to get done and having her daughter around reenergizes her to keep things moving forward, including a bid to rerun for mayor during the 2021 election.
Joking that her daughter will receive campaign swag for her first birthday present, Stewart said she wants to continue on the path she is on and by making the city a better place, that in turn makes it a better world for her child to grow up in.
“We’re not going anywhere. My husband and I are building a house here; we’re here for the long haul,” she said. “Being a public servant is a very thankless job, especially now. You can’t ever please everyone but you just have to have faith in your own vision. I’ve made no secrets that it’s my full intention to run for mayor again because the work is not done yet.”
With so many New Britain-specific projects in mind, Stewart said she does not know if there will ever be a time when she thinks the job is completed. Recognizing her name has been tossed around as the next candidate for governor in 2022, she said she ran unsuccessfully in 2018 and her focus so far is staying in the city.
“I gave it a go and it didn’t work out, but I learned a lot and became a better person for it,” she said. “My passion is seeing something that is broken and fixing it. When I ran for mayor in 2013, the city was broken. I wanted to fix it. Whatever issue I choose to do next, it’s because I want to do something about it.”
Seeing herself as a fixer-upper, Stewart said she is looking forward to seeing the city through the eyes of her daughter.
“Isn’t that kind of what moms are, fixer-uppers? I have a kid now and she’s great to have by my side. I want to make sure that what I do makes a good or better life for her,” she said. “I’m not going to stop doing what I’ve been doing because I have a kid. Now she gets to be a part of that with me, I have to keep on keeping on.”