NAUGATUCK — Republican Seth Bronko emerged victorious in a three-way race to be the Republican Town Committee’s standard-bearer in the November election.
The committee endorsed its slate of candidates Wednesday at Town Hall, and backed Bronko to run for mayor. Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi and Burgess Alex Olbrys were also nominated. Bronko received 18 votes, compared to Olbrys and Rossi who received seven and six votes, respectively.
Rossi and Olbrys both plan to force a primary.
After accepting the endorsement, Bronko, 26, promised to bring the borough in a new direction.
“The election this year represents a great opportunity for us to take back the mayor’s seat. For six years we’ve been subjected to ‘business as usual’ politics. Our mill rate is through the roof, our local business leaders are disgruntled, and many of our lots and storefronts are empty and vacant. Well tonight, I want to let you know that we are not without hope. I believe our best days are ahead and, together, we will get Naugatuck back in business,” said Bronko, who is a political newcomer.
Bronko, who is co-owner and executive business manager of Bronko Construction in Naugatuck, said he believes the Republican Party works best when they work together as a team.
“What I think is important for you all to understand about me is that I am big on teams. I believe we are strongest when we are all working together towards the same goal,” Bronko said. “The team mentality is bigger than any one individual. I stand here, the endorsed Republican candidate for mayor, but I tell you this election is not about me. This election is about what we can do as a Republican Party. It’s about the difference we can make together to affect positive change in town.”
Attorney N. Warren “Pete” Hess received the endorsement from the Democratic Town Committee to run for mayor. Democrat Mayor Robert Mezzo, who has held the seat since 2009, is not running for re-election.
“This election is not going to be easy. We have a formidable opponent on the Democrat’s side in Pete. Someone said to me, ‘it will be like facing Goliath.’ Well, I’ve got news for you, I’ve read that story and I like how it ends,” Bronko said.
Rossi and Olbrys have begun to collect signatures to force a primary. Republican Registrar of Voters Matthew Katra said a candidate needs to obtain 161 signatures from registered Republicans on an official petition to force a primary. Katra said the petitions need to be turned in to him by Aug. 12.
The biggest surprise of the evening came when David Heller, the current chairman of the Board of Education, wasn’t endorsed to run again.
Six school board candidates, including Heller, were nominated for the five possible spots on the ticket. After the votes were cast, Heller, who has served on the board for 10 years, received the least amount of votes.
The committee endorsed incumbents Dorothy Neth-Kunin, Diana Malone, Scott Slauson, Glenn Connan, and newcomer Eileen Mocny-Lingl to run for the school board.
The Republican slate of burgesses is made up primarily of new faces, with Robert Neth the only incumbent. The committee also endorsed Dorothy Hoff, Don Wisniewski, Mike Stopa, Ray Fayad and Ed Fennell.
The committee unanimously endorsed incumbent Town Clerk Michelle Dowling, who was also cross-endorsed by the Democrats, and incumbent treasurer Judy Anderson.
The committee also endorsed incumbents Rick Cool Sr. and Sally Brouillet for seats on the Zoning Commission, and incumbents E. Harry Jancis and Robert Pease for seats on the Planning Commission.