Name: David B. Panagore
Found at: Salute (Hartford)
Note: Mr. Panagore was the city of Hartford's chief operating officer. He was hired to be the city's director of development services by former Mayor Eddie Perez and was promoted in 2009. Panagore announced his resignation on Aug. 20. His departure was amicable.
What was your earliest ambition?
First school report I ever wrote was on urban renewal in the sixth grade, so I was focused on cities from an early age.
Who is your mentor?
I've learned so many things from every city manager, mayor and development director I have worked for, but my Dad, who was a urban renewal and economic development director before he retired, he's who I follow and go to and get sage advice. He keeps me grounded.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
Persistence is what matters most, followed by creativity. Those are terms close to ambition and talent, or at least in the same neighborhood.
How politically committed are you?
I am civically committed rather than politically committed. I have worked for democrats and republicans and at the local level rarely has there been the sort of split we see at the national level. I try and not be involved politically at the local level, as the partisan politics is usually less focused on the good of the community and more focused on the good of the individuals involved.
Why do you do what you do?
Because of Watergate, and how it ruined our faith in government. The way I see my job, people deserve honest, effective, in other words good government. We need to redeem our faith in government if we are going to survive as a nation, and as a community.
How does Hartford measure-up to other places you've been?
Its potential for success is far greater than other similarly situated cities. The pieces are in place, the challenge is pulling it together and the patience to see it through as it will take another 10 to 15 years. Tolstoy said that all happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. That doesn't apply to cities, each thinks itself unique in its pain and problems but they are remarkably consistent: low self esteem, blight, poverty, challenged schools. So the solutions are out there, we no longer have to invent the wheel, only pick and choose proven strategies for long term success.
What gets you up in the morning?
Besides the internal clock my mother installed in me as a child? Along with 'get up, you're wasting the day', what gets me up is the challenge, the puzzle, the need help people come together to be part of something bigger than yourself, the success of our community.
What's the craziest thing you've seen in City Hall?
A city clerk dressed in a full bunny suit, bright pink, handing out licenses the week leading up to Easter.
What motivated you to make Hartford a better city?
Because it was and is possible, because I was asked by the Mayor, because given its size, given the tremendous community support the problem can be solved so long as there is persistent action.
Beyond being New England's Rising Star, for what else does Hartford stand?
As the capital of Connecticut, every person in the state has a unique connection to their capital and harbors a secret pride, in spite of the many complaints and fears our suburban friends project on life in the city.
What is Hartford's standing locally and nationally?
Continuing to improve, there is a good team in place, a strong mayor and supportive state and federal officials. It's been shown in the growth in grants in all all areas of activity, including the biggest, the recent $10 million Federal grant to improve the streets, sidewalks and bus routes in the downtown.
What do you envision for Hartford's future?
Over the next ten to twenty years I see more hard work and with persistent and consistent action, recognizing that the cast will and does change, it is not any individual but rather in the persistence of a vision of a 24-hour world class city not for the 19th century, but the 21st century, while Hartford must value and celebrate its past glory, its new future will not be found in nostalgia hunting, but in its arts, industry and hard working population. The region is most productive in the world.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
Often and always, from being supportive of local farming that simultaneously reduces transportation to the city owned Prius for day to day driving and biking to and from work. My only indulgence is my convertible, but it's only for long summer drives.
What would you like to own that you don't currently possess?
A Vespa and a first edition of Huckleberry Finn.
What's your biggest extravagance?
My convertible and my commitment to local food, it's not cheap but it's worth it.
In what place are you happiest?
A national park. Pick one they are all incredible treasures.
What ambitions do you still have?
More reading, more learning, a doctorate in philosophy, and I suspect there is at least one or two more public sector adventures ahead.
What drives you on?
Fear of failure balanced in equal measure by the momentary joy of success.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Being I hope at least a little bit better a person than I was at twenty. Without any children, which I think is where we should and do place all our hopes and wisdom, the best I can hope for is to make my life, this one life, better to others, better on myself and so less worse every day.
What has been your greatest disappointment?
Having to give up on all your dreams to decide on just one or two, failing to find a way forward with the love of my life.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
More than likely, "What a doofus." That said we would recognize each other, I still think about the same things, study the same philosophies. He might be proud of that I have achieved many of my educational goals, but he would never understand why I have not found a life partner.
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
Get a job in a resort town, sail and ski, read to my heart's content and enjoy my life.
If you could rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
First record bought?
This is so very nerdy, I would like to say Born to Run, but that was like my second or third, my first was get this Fife and Drum music of the Sudbury Militia as recorded at Longfellow's Wayside Inn.
Book that changed your life?
The Order of Things by Micheal Foucault.
Atlas Shrugged is grand opera mascarading as philosophy. Wagner was called a great philosopher in his day, but not anymore. It's the opera and the drama we love, no one reads the boring 60 pages of dry as toast philosophy at the end.