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Carrie Saxon Perry was the first black woman to be elected mayor of a major New England city – Hartford, Connecticut – in 1987. She served three terms before being defeated in 1993.[1] She had previously served as a state representative, and was known for her distinctive broad-rimmed hats.[1][2]

Carrie Saxon Perry
63rd Mayor of Hartford
In office
December 1, 1987 – December 7, 1993
Preceded byThirman L. Milner
Succeeded byMichael P. Peters
Personal details
Political partyDemocratic



Perry was elected the mayor of Hartford at the age of 56.[1] She is credited for helping reduce racial tension in the city; notably, she visited black neighborhoods after the Rodney King verdict, which was credited with preventing rioting in Hartford as had happened in other large cities.[1] She also focused on reducing burgeoning gang activity and drug trafficking, which was on the rise at the time.[2] The position in Hartford is considered largely ceremonial, and paid a stipend of $17,500.[3]

After three terms as mayor, she was defeated by first-time Democratic challenger Michael Peters, a city firefighter.[1] He had run on a campaign capitalizing on Hartford's declining economy and a sense that street crime was on the rise.[1]

Early careerEdit

A Hartford native, Perry had been a social worker in her early life.[2] In 1949 she enrolled as political science major at Howard University, leaving after two years to raise a child.[2] Her first run for state representative ended in defeat in 1976. She was elected in 1980, and served on posts as assistant majority leader, chair of the bonding subcommittee, and a committee member for education, finance and housing.[2]

She was known for donning unique hats, of which she owned about two dozen.[2][3] She started the habit because didn't have time to take care of her hair.[2]


Perry has a son, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.[2]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Johnson, Kirk (1993-11-04). "THE 1993 ELECTIONS: Connecticut; Mayor Perry Is Denied a Fourth Term by Voters in Hartford". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Marshall, Marilyn (April 1988). "Carry Saxon Perry: More than a pretty hat". Ebony. pp. 60–62.
  3. ^ a b "Mayor love politics - and hats". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved February 2016 – via  . Check date values in: |access-date= (help)