NAUGAUTCK — A new face in politics topped the Republican Town Committee’s endorsements for the November election.
Attorney James O’Sullivan, 59, was endorsed by the committee Wednesday night to challenge Mayor Robert Mezzo for the borough’s highest political seat.
“I am honored. I am humbled,” O’Sullivan told the committee. “I am touched by the trust you place in me.”
O’Sullivan, who moved to the borough in 2000 and has a law office on Church Street, said he didn’t originally plan to run for mayor when he moved to the borough.
“When my family first moved here it was to start a new adventure and to seek new opportunities. Standing here before you was the farthest thing from my mind. I’ve always felt that my efforts and my contributions to my town, to my community were better private and more subdued. We have, however, reached a tipping point in this town. We need to decide if we’re going to continue down the same path that we’ve been following, or if we’re going to forge some new roads,” O’Sullivan said.
Board of Finance member Matthew Katra nominated O’Sullivan.
“This is not a nomination that our party can take lightly. We must nominate a person that has both the experience and common sense to lead the borough wisely over the next few years. They must do what is right for the taxpayers of Naugatuck in all aspect of the job. We need a strong person to lead our borough,” Katra said.
Katra said O’Sullivan is the right person to lead Naugatuck.
“Jim loves this borough just as much as the rest of us. He wants to see Naugatuck change for the better,” Katra said. “He wants to implement the responsible fiscal policies needed to attract new businesses.”
Incumbents and new candidates alike make up the remaining Republican slate.
Incumbents Tamath Rossi, who is currently the deputy mayor, Robert Neth, Catherine Ernsky and former Mayor Michael Bronko, were nominated for re-election to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses. Newcomers Edward Fennell and Smokey Regan also received the committee’s support to vie for a seat on the board.
Former Burgess Ronald San Angelo, a Republican, resigned this month to take a job as town administrator of Hanson, Mass.
Bronko said after years of being both a mayor and a burgess he feels the need to continue to serve and help his community.
“Once I got involved with the mayor’s office, I found in myself the need to work for my community, to do things for my community. Not being able to run for mayor because of my business and different things, I’ve decided that running for burgess was the next best thing to help my community and to keep a watch on what goes on in town,” Bronko said.
Regan said she decided to run for burgess because she wanted to be involved and bring a fresh voice to her community.
“You get to a point where you just can’t complain anymore. Either you put up or shut up,” Regan said. “I think it’s time for a fresh voice, for the residents of Naugatuck to really understand what’s going on. They need someone to explain it to them as it is happening, real time.”
The committee endorsed David Heller, Dorothy Neth-Kunin, Glenn Connan, Scott Slauson and Diana Malone, all of whom are incumbents, for the Board of Education.
The committee endorsed newcomer Rayad Fayad for the position of tax collector to run against incumbent James Goggin.
Fayad said he is running to bring change and experience to the borough.
“I think Naugatuck needs a change in its leadership. I think the direction the administration has been going has not been in the favor of the residents or the businesses of this town. I think that with my background I can bring a lot of experience where it will benefit residents and taxpayers across the board,” Fayad said.
April Slauson, who currently serves as an alternate on the Zoning Commission, was nominated to be a full member of the Zoning Commission.
Incumbent Joseph Rotella Jr., along with newcomers Seth Martin Bronko and Daniel Renzoni III, were nominated for the position of bailiff.
The committee nominated incumbents Judy Anderson and Michelle Dowling for treasurer and town clerk respectively.
Republican Town Committee Chairman Dorothy Hoff said she was happy to have a mayoral candidate since the committee did not have one for the 2011 election.
“Although two years ago we were pleased to have two former mayors join the slate, it was not easy to hide our disappointment with not having a mayoral candidate. Tonight we have a mayoral candidate who, although new to politics, has many attributes and strengths which I’m sure will appeal to our town committee members and to Naugatuck voters,” Hoff said.
Hoff told all of the candidates that, if they win, they need to remember they are Republicans serving the borough.
“I’m asking all successful candidates, whether you’re mayor, burgess, board of ed, bailiff, a zoning or planning commissioner, whether you’re town clerk, treasurer, or tax collector, to remember always that you are entrusted with our faith and our hope that you will not only serve for the betterment of Naugatuck but with respect to our Republican ideals, fiscal conservatism and with concern for the future of our community,” Hoff said.