An important dimension of contemporary American urban politics involves the redistributive role of local government. Activism at the local level has produced electoral movements that have succeeded in electing progressive local candidates and coalitions, yet on assuming office those officials face tremendous obstacles in meeting the expectations of those who put them in office. From 1991 to 1993 in Hartford, Connecticut, an attempt at progressive governance by a multiracial coalition was fraught with difficulties. Tensions among progressives and among leadership from impoverished communities of color, responses of downtown interests and the media, fiscal crises and the unrelenting needs of the population, served to complicate or stymie redistributive efforts and led to electoral defeat. However, new mechanisms for popular participation and several other reform measures were accomplished.



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