In the city of New Britain, Connecticut, there is a street by the name of Paul Manafort Drive. Over the past year, this has become a contentious issue in the community, with some coming to hate the name, while others love it.
Following Paul Manafort’s conviction during his first trial and the plea deal he took during the second, the city’s Common Council will officially vote to change the street name on Wednesday, reported CBS News.
For most people today, the name Paul Manafort is associated with the disgraced campaign manager of U.S. President Donald Trumps’s 2016 election trail, but the street was actually named after his father, Paul Manafort Sr., who was a three-time mayor of the city. While the son is a pariah after he was found guilty on eight counts of financial crimes last month, his father is still a respected member of the community. Manafort Sr. passed away in 2013.
The street’s name first started to gather attention in November last year when “Connecticut resident Dan Russell created an online petition to change the name to George Springer Drive.” Springer is a major league baseball player and was born in the city of New Britain. According to Russell, Springer would be a much more worthy candidate to have his name on the street signs.
“If it’s going to have a person’s name, it should be a name New Britain can be proud of.”
Since Russell posted the petition, nearly 1,700 people have signed it. Although it didn’t bring about a change, attention around the street name only heightened in mid-August when Manafort was on trial, prompting Mayor Erin Stewart to add “Sr.” to the sign to clarify. She later made her position on changing the name clear.
“I have said in the past that I will not support changing the name of the street, however this small clarification should serve well. The name of the street hasn’t changed; we’ve clarified which Paul Manafort the street was named after and I think that’s fair.”
According to Carlo Carlozzi, Jr., the majority leader on the city’s Common Council, Stewart did not speak to the council about the change before making it, which is unprecedented.
“When she did that, that’s when we started hearing from people in the community,” Carlozzi said. “Adding ‘Sr.’ to the sign does not do enough to remove the embarrassment… adding ‘Sr.’ does not take away the scandal of the Paul Manafort name.”
Carlozzi and six of the nine members of the council later reached a resolution to change the street’s name and hinted that it might be in honor of a “distinguished alumni of Central Connecticut State University” alongside which the street runs. The proposed change will see the street renamed Ebenezer D.C. Bassett Way.
“Bassett was the first African American to attend and graduate from Connecticut Normal School, now Central Connecticut State University,” the resolution reads. “He was also nominated by President Ulysses Grant to be the first African American to serve as an ambassador and diplomat.”
According to Carlozzi, the change needs the agreement of eight council members to be passed.