(WTNH) — New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart is back in Connecticut after a last minute trip down to Washington D.C, where she met with President Trump.
“You immediately feel this sense of honor and pride and just think about what you would say on a federal stage,” Stewart tells News 8.
Mayor Stewart flew down to Washington Wednesday to join a round table discussion. She received an invitation via voicemail and email on Monday afternoon. The topic of conversation — opportunity zones. To put it simply, it’s a community development program to help pump money into low income areas around the country.
“This is an opportunity to transform a community like mine,” Stewart told the President directly during their face-to-face meeting.
The program was established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was passed last year. Governor Dannel Malloy will now have to designate the areas that are eligible for such funding and then submit an application to Washington.
“I was certainly the only person sitting around that table that represented a community like New Britain,” said Stewart. “And the only person bringing a perspective of a low income community and someone who is on the ground living in it. So I took that as my opportunity to affect policy change.”
Related content: New Britain mayor to talk with Trump about Opportunity Zones
This all comes after a scheduled meeting with another local leader last month went a little differently. New Haven Mayor Toni Harp was in Washington for a conference and decided to skip a meeting with the president.
Mayor Stewart, now exploring a run for governor in 2018. She’s taking some heat for going down to Washington to meet with President Trump. But Stewart tells News 8, the meeting was about her city and adds she’s been critical of the president when necessary.
“There are some things I agree with, there are some things I don’t. I don’t agree with the way he conducts himself on social media. I don’t think it’s very presidential and that’s something I would say to him. But there are some things happening in the government right now, such as opportunity zones. A piece of bipartisan legislation. For me, there’s no party label you can put on that. It’s not about putting one party over the other. It’s about what’s right for your community and what’s right for your state. And I’ll always do that,” Steward explains.