NAUGATUCK — After the dust settled Tuesday at the polls, Democrat N. Warren “Pete” Hess emerged as the borough’s next mayor.
Hess, 66, received approximately 57.5 percent of the vote to win Tuesday’s mayoral race over Republican Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi. Hess took an unofficial 3,524 votes to Rossi’s 2,582 of the votes.
“This campaign was never about me, it was never about my opponent. It’s always been about the future of Naugatuck,” Hess said.
Hess, an attorney who has represented many municipalities but never ran for elected office, will begin his term as mayor on Nov. 16.
Standing before a jubilant crowd at his headquarters at the old Salem Theater on Church Street, Hess vowed to work towards a better future for the borough. But, he warned, it will be a difficult road ahead.
“We’re going to start off with a very difficult year next year. I never promised anyone tax relief in the first year. There’s a lot of things coming up and we are going to have a very difficult first year. My belief is, after next year, we can stabilize things and we can commence our plan for long-term economic growth and we can start seeing tax relief moving forward,” Hess said.
During a much more somber speech at the Portuguese Club, Rossi, 49, thanked all of the people who supported her campaign.
“I am tremendously proud of the campaign we have run. I am very much a constant presence in this community and that’s not going anywhere. I will continue to be involved with the community that I love and the many, many different venues and organizations I serve it in. I want to thank all the voters that came out tonight for their voices to be heard. And I thank those that were great supporters through all of this,” Rossi said.
Hess said his campaign had a clear vision that he plans to start working to implement beginning immediately.
His platform calls for growing the tax base by working with the Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. and burgesses to finish the development of a medical office building and a commercial building on the Parcel C downtown.
Hess also wants to work with the NEDC and the state to remediate environmental issues and relocate the train station to land known as Parcels A and B. The borough is working with a developer on a mixed-use, commercial and residential development, on those parcels.
He has called for smart residential growth that doesn’t add to the tax base, an indoor sports arena, renovating the old theater downtown, building a dog park and expanding the commercial development on New Haven Road and the Andrew Mountain area.
Hess said his platform has laid out his vision and plan for the borough, and asked his supporters to work with him over the next two years to make it a reality.
“We have the vision. We are going to execute it,” Hess said.
Democrats regained control of the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, gaining a six to three majority.
The borough’s new deputy mayor, which is the burgess candidate who receives the most votes, however is Republican Robert Neth.
Neth said he was humbled to be elected deputy mayor and is looking forward to continuing to serve.
“It’s extremely humbling quite honestly. I’m not here for any glory. I don’t care if I get number one or number nine; I just want to continue to participate and do a good job. Being number one doesn’t add any pressure to anything because it is going to be the same old story every day when you go to work,” Neth said.
Neth said during his next two years as deputy mayor he will work on lowering the mill rate.
“I think right now we have some real nice things that are happening with development downtown and I think growing the grand list is the ultimate goal right now to try to reduce this mill rate. It’s all about growing the grand list right now.”
Incumbent Democrat burgesses Robert Burns, Patrick Scully, Rocky Vitale, and Laurie Taf Jackson were re-elected. Democrats Kathleen Donovan, a current land use commissioner and longtime former Board of Education member, and Carl Herb, a political newcomer who has experience in finance in the private sector, were elected, as well.
Former Burgess Dorothy Hoff, a Republican, is back on the board. And Donald Wisniewski, a current Board of Finance member, is also on the board as a Republican.
The Board of Education remained largely unchanged.
Democrat incumbents Jill Mahoney and James Scully along with David Heller, a Republican who turned Democrat this election cycle, were re-elected. Republican incumbents Diana Malone, Dorothy Neth-Kunin, Glenn Connan and Scott Slauson all kept their seats, as well. Democrat newcomer Jason Celozzi will be joining the board.
The Republican-American contributed to this article.
Full election results
* Denotes winners
*N. Warren “Pete” Hess-3,524
Tamath K Rossi-2,589
*Patrick J Scully Sr.-2,408
*Kathleen L Donovan-2,515
*Carl J. Herb-2,884
*Robert J Burns-2,640
*Laurie Taf Jackson-3,008
Henry C. Kuczenski Jr.-2,492
*James J Goggin-4,372
Board of Education
*Jason L. Celozzi-2.369
Ethel S. Grant-2,269
*Jill M. Mahoney-2,624
*David M Heller-2,506
*James M. Scully-2586
*Glenn Connan -2,517
David P. Sletner-2,338
*E. Harry Jancis-2,885
*Robert S. Pease-2,919
*Neil D. Mascola-2,628
Paul B Bonaldi-1,939
Sally Brouillet, 2,575
*Joy A. Parise-2,711
*Michael L. Caron-2,728
*Gregory R. Smith-2,952