NAUGATUCK — The Democratic Town Committee Thursday night endorsed Mayor Robert Mezzo to run for a third term in office and lead the party into the November election.
“We’ve got tough times. We’ve got tough decisions to make. This campaign will be well organized. It will be well funded and it will be absolutely relentless to tell the truth. Elections are great. People want to talk about what they think is wrong and how they think it’s going to get better. They want to propose vague solutions, they can do that all they want, but they’re going to be held to task,” said Mezzo after thanking the committee for its support and trust.
Mezzo was a practicing attorney before being elected to his first term as mayor in 2009. He won a primary over Democrat Kevin Knowles, and then defeated incumbent Republican Mayor Mike Bronko. He was unopposed in 2011, but that won’t be the case this year.
James O’Sullivan, an attorney with an office on Church Street, received the Republican Town Committee’s endorsement Wednesday night to challenge Mezzo.
“Two years ago was a very unique and uncomfortable experience because we didn’t have a mayoral campaign,” said Mezzo about the 2011 election.
Mezzo said there’s going be a campaign this year. He added the party will have a campaign like it did four years ago when every Democrat running for office was elected.
“The choices we make as a community, they’re not easy choices. The challenges we face are complex and the solutions sometimes are not as easy to come to as you ordinarily think. But, together we’re going to tell that message. We’re going to tell that vision and we’re going to go forward as Democrats and also as Naugatuck citizens to make this community everything that it has the potential to be. There’s a lot of excitement. There’s a lot of work that has to be done but I’m honored to work with you,” Mezzo said.
The slate after Mezzo is a blend of incumbents and new candidates.
Incumbent Burgesses Laurie Taf Jackson, Patrick Scully and Robert Burns Sr. were all endorsed for re-election.
Former Burgess Henry Kuczenski, Margaret Sheehy and Rocky Vitale, a current member of the Board of Education, are new candidates for the Board of Mayor and Burgesses.
Sheehy, a nurse and active Democratic Town Committee member, told the committee the reason she’s running for burgess is because she’d like to serve the public on the decision-making process in the borough.
“I want to represent the residents’ interest fairly, respectfully and equally and make sure the residents have a voice,” Sheehy said.
Burgess Mike Ciacciarella informed party leaders in a July 5 letter that he would not seek an endorsement to run again. Ciacciarella said, in the letter, he wants to spend more time with his wife and quadruplets, who are going into high school.
“My children and wife are my first commitment,” he wrote. “I feel fortunate that the people of Naugatuck allowed me to serve them.”
Incumbent school board members James Jordan and James Scully were endorsed to run again. They are joined by new candidates Ethel Grant, James Ayash and Eleanor Destefano-Ruggles.
Ayash, the owner of Ayash-Man Restaurant on Rubber Avenue, said he’s running because he just wants to help the community.
Destefano-Ruggles, who is a member of Naugatuck Discovery and the Early Childhood Council, believes she is an excellent candidate for the school board.
“I have the drive and the ability to learn about our educational system and to get involved,” she said.
Jim Goggin was endorsed to run again for tax collector, while Lois Braziel received the nod to challenge for town clerk. Henry Kuczenski received the endorsement for treasurer.
Raymond Kryzkowski and Anthony Whelan were endorsed as planning commissioners. Paul Bonaldi, Neil Mascola and William Stopper were endorsed to run for the Zoning Commission. Four candidates were endorsed for bailiff: Joseph Butler, Michael Caron, Francis Lawlor and Rita Sousa.
Democratic Town Committee Chairman M. Leonard Caine said the party’s ticket is a good one with a lot of political experience and new candidates who bring “life experience” to the slate.
“When you bring people like that together it brings different visions together,” he said.