NEW BRITAIN - Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski and more of his partyâ€™s hopefuls paid a visit to Little Poland Saturday ahead of Tuesdayâ€™s election.
Stefanowski, whose grandparents come from Poland, is no stranger to the cityâ€™s Polish community, having attended the Little Poland festival, toured Little Poland with Mayor Erin Stewart and attended the recent celebration of 100 years of Polish independence at Central Connecticut State University.
He arrived Saturday near the Little Poland sign, in a van plastered with campaign logos, and greeted supporters and community leaders waiting for him.
â€śYouâ€™ve got my vote,â€ť said one young man who honked his horn and waved as he left the intersection of Main Street and Broad Street.
Other candidates who joined Stefanowski on the tour included Robert Smedley, a candidate in the 6th Senate District; Tremell Collins, a candidate in the 26th House District; Manny Santos, running for Congressâ€™ 5th District seat; Sue Hatfield, running for attorney general; Sue Chapman, is running for secretary of the state; and Thad Gray, running for state treasurer.
â€śIâ€™m here to tell people that Ned Lamont would just be four more years of [current governor] Dannel Malloy,â€ť said Stefanowski. â€śWe represent change, lower taxes and regulations and economic investment.â€ť
Smedley, who said he regularly patronizes Little Poland businesses, encouraged people to vote for a change in Connecticut. He said that he supports a transportation funding â€ślockboxâ€ť instead of tolls.
Collins urged residents he spoke with to support the candidate who â€śsees whatâ€™s going on and stands for whatâ€™s right.â€ť
Santos said Little Poland is a â€śvibrantâ€ť area and that he wants to see it remain that way. He said that the Republican ticket is all about creating jobs and economic development.
Stefanowski met with a handful of local business owners, among them Beata and Slawek Rulka, owners of Zieleniak Green Grocer.
â€śDo you have any golumnki (stuffed cabbage)?â€ť asked Stefanowski as he shook Beata Rulkaâ€™s hand.
She urged Stefanowski to take care of local businesses if he is elected.
â€śHis roots are Polish and it is nice to see that he did not forget them,â€ť she said later. â€śI would like to see some change in Connecticut and lower taxes. A lot of businesses are spreading out to other states and not staying here.â€ť
Tony Cane, chairman of the New Britain Republican Town Committee, said he was eager to show off Little Poland.
â€śThis is an area that used to have a lot of gangs and drugs and has since really turned itself around to become a big cultural attraction,â€ť said Cane. â€śItâ€™s the third-largest Polish community in the country.â€ť
Darek Barcikowski, publisher of the White Eagle, a local Polish newspaper, said he was pleased that both candidates for governor had stopped in Little Poland. Democratic candidates, including Ned Lamont and Susan Bysiewicz, had toured the area in July.
â€śLittle Poland has become a campaign stop,â€ť he said. â€śThis particular election is fascinating to the Polish people. Weâ€™re going to either end up with a Polish governor or a Polish lieutenant governor, whereas historically we have been an underrepresented ethnic group in elected offices.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.