Stewart’s political career began as a campaign staffer for former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson. Working alongside Congresswoman Johnson, Stewart worked directly with municipal political leaders to achieve victories for various candidates around the State of Connecticut and to develop strategy for communications and marketing of campaign platforms. Stewart interned for Governor Jodi Rell’s Administration in the Office of Policy and Management, then in the Legislative Affairs Office. Before becoming mayor, Stewart worked as a Legislative Aide in the Connecticut General Assembly. Stewart was responsible for working on constituent problems for Senator Kevin C. Kelly’s district of 100,000 residents and providing research to the senator on state laws. While working at the Connecticut General Assembly, she became an elected member of the city’s Board of Education.
Stewart graduated from New Britain High School in 2005. She attended Central Connecticut State University, earning her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, with a specialization in Public Administration and a minor in Communications, in 2009.
Stewart headed the planning and budgeting subcommittee of New Britain’s Commission on Community and Neighborhood Development while serving as the vice chairperson. She is also a Justice of the Peace. After graduating from CCSU, Stewart was an assistant softball coach at her high school alma mater, New Britain High School. Stewart has dedicated herself to raising awareness about breast cancer when her aunt died from the disease in 1998 at the age of 51. For the past several years, Stewart has served as the honorary co-chair of the Connecticut Race in the Park with Connecticut Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, a race to raise funds and awareness for the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative.
Elected to the Board of Education in November 2011, Stewart advocated for a return to neighborhood schools, greater parental engagement, and enhanced accountability measurements for teachers and administrators, while keeping costs down. While Stewart served on the Board, the Board expanded Pre-K to all day programing. At that time, the Board of Education also decided to outfit the classrooms with SMART Board technology.
On June 6, 2013, Stewart announced her intent to run for Mayor. She was unopposed in the Republican primary. Stewart ran on a platform of government transparency and accountability while promising to restore financial health to the city in the face of a potential State takeover. On Election Day, Stewart beat her opponent, Democrat incumbent Mayor Tim O’Brien, 56-44%.
On May 26, 2015, in a YouTube video, Stewart announced that she was going to run for re-election. In her announcement video she stated, “I don’t believe that any one party has a monopoly on the right solutions for our city. [...] Together we are setting a new standard for what you should expect from city government.” During her the campaign, Stewart received endorsements from the city's police and fire unions, along with Local 1186 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union consisting of more than 300 city employees. Stewart was elected to a second term on November 3, 2015, after beating both Democratic candidate John McNamara and petitioning candidate Alfred Mayo, garnering more than sixty-six percent of the vote. She is the only female to have been elected to the Office of Mayor in New Britain twice. Stewart’s ticket, which was a “fusion ticket”, consisted of registered Republicans, Democrats and Independents. For the first time in 44 years, the Common Council had a Republican majority, accounting for twelve of the fifteen seats on the Council.
On January 19, 2017, Mayor Stewart announced that she was seeking a third term as Mayor.
Stewart closed a deficit of more than $30 million during her first term, when the city was facing the possibility of bankruptcy. The city’s finances gained a 3-notch upgrade in New Britain’s bond rating by Standard & Poor’s in January 2015, and ushered in a further bond upgrade in January 2016 to "A+." The city achieved a four notch bond upgrades within five years. In two budget cycles, Stewart's administration closed a deficit of $30 million and put $14.9 million into the city’s rainy day fund. The budgets that Stewart presented were structurally balanced. She is the first mayor in the city’s history to deliver budget addresses when presenting her budget to the common council.
For the first time in years, the City of New Britain’s grand list is experiencing growth and businesses are expanding, including the addition of a Costco, which was added to the City's list of top ten taxpayers in the fall of 2015. Much of that interest has been sparked by the opening of CTfastrak, New England’s first bus rapid transit system, which directly connects downtown New Britain with Connecticut’s capital city of Hartford. Both the City and the State are spending millions in transit-oriented development and seven phases of streetscape improvements, which are bringing increased commercial and residential development to New Britain. Stewart secured more than $12 million in both state and federal grants to help pay for the Complete Streetscape Master Plan.
All-America City Award
Professional Baseball has been a hallmark of the City of New Britain since 1983. In June 2014, the City’s longtime baseball team, the New Britain Rock Cats announced that they were moving to Hartford. After the announcement former Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch (politician) connected Stewart with Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, the owners of the Bridgeport Bluefish. After months of negotiations, Stewart received a commitment from the League to bring what would become the New Britain Bees to the city. Due to a lapse in contracts, New Britain was officially without baseball for only one day.
Stewart has invested resources into helping New Britain’s homeless population through her creation of the Building Hope Together Task Force: New Britain’s Permanent Workplan to End Homelessness. Stewart secured $2.145 million to fund the construction of more than 10 units of permanent supportive housing; connecting individuals to the services needed to get back on their feet. Veterans’ homelessness is another issue which Stewart has made a focal point of her tenure, providing access to services, supportive housing and critical care veterans need. Working closely with Veterans Inc., the City committed $205,000 to bring 18 units of veterans’ housing to New Britain.
Stewart committed to making New Britain a “green” community. Through her “Smart City Initiative,” Stewart spearheaded the largest solarization project in New Britain’s history, including a solar array at Shuttle Meadow Reservoir, as well as rooftop solar arrays on most school buildings. She is also taking steps to increase the use of LED technology in all City buildings and streetlights, to further reduce the City’s energy consumption, and is embarking on building the city’s first fuel cell. Stewart founded an Energy and Innovation Committee to oversee this initiative.
Stewart has a monthly television show called "Around New Britain with Mayor Stewart" that airs on Nutmeg Television. It is also available on YouTube. In 2016, Stewart presented the first ever digital State of the City as way of transforming City Hall.
Stewart has received awards for her political service:2016: Newsmax's "50 Most Influential Female Republicans."
2016: Central Connecticut State University – Women of Influence Award
2016: Newsmax named her at the top of their “30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30” list.
2015: Central Connecticut State University – Young Alumni Service Award
2015: Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence honored her with “First 100 Plus”
2014: New Britain City Journal’s “Person of the Year”
2014: Connecticut Magazine honorary, “Top 40 under 40”
2013: Women in Leadership award from the Connecticut Republican Party.
2007: Greater New Britain YWCA's Women in Leadership award for her work with the CT Breast Health Initiative.
Mayor Stewart has been the subject of in-depth profiles by national media outlets such as the New York Times and Newsmax Media
Stewart was born May 4, 1987, in New Britain to Patricia (Badolato) and Timothy Stewart. Her uncle, Dominic J. Badolato, was first elected to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1954 and served for 22 years, and her father, Mayor Timothy Stewart, served as mayor of New Britain from 2003-2011.