Hess tops Democratic ticket

Democrat N. Warren “Pete” Hess addresses the Naugatuck Democratic Town Committee Tuesday after receiving the committee’s endorsement to run for mayor. –LUKE MARSHALL
Democrat N. Warren “Pete” Hess addresses the Naugatuck Democratic Town Committee Tuesday after receiving the committee’s endorsement to run for mayor. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Democratic Town Committee unanimously endorsed attorney N. Warren “Pete” Hess to lead its ticket.

The committee endorsed a slate of candidates for the November election Tuesday night, with Hess taking the top spot for a run at the mayor’s seat. Democrat Mayor Robert Mezzo, who has been in office since 2009, is not seeking re-election.

Hess, 66, said he has a plan to lead the ticket and the borough into the best future possible.

“We’re going to all work together and fight. How are we going to do it? We are going to implement our platform, smart growth today. I think the easiest way to say it, when you go through everything, is in this town we are either going to grow or we are going to die a slow death,” Hess said.

Hess, who has served a municipal attorney for Naugatuck for more than three decades, said he wants people to feel comfortable to approach him with any problems they might have.

“I do want to implement one rule in the campaign and in government. It’s a rule I have in my office. It’s the only rule I’ve ever had for 40 years in my business. It’s one rule, two words: No drama,” Hess said. “I want people to feel free to talk to me, tell me what you think. I’ll always tell you what I think and we’ll work together successfully.”

Hess said he will work with the entire slate of candidates.

“I’m going to be there for everyone on the slate to help you in any way I can so that, in November, we achieve a complete and total victory,” Hess said.

Members of the committee spoke highly of Hess as a candidate, saying they have faith he can lead the borough in the right direction.

“Pete is one of the people who built his resume and stayed here and gave back to the community. Now he seeks the closet thing you can do to giving your heart and soul to the community, and that’s the office of mayor of this community,” Kevin Knowles said.

Former Mayor Joan Taff said Hess has the necessary experience to lead Naugatuck.

“I just want to say, with all his experience, he will be the one that will bring this town together. He will serve our community with integrity, ingenuity and responsibility,” Taff said.

Who Hess will face in November remains to be seen. Three Republicans — Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi, Burgess Alex Olbrys and Republican Town Committee member Seth Bronko — are seeking the Republican Town Committee’s endorsement for mayor. The committee is meeting Wednesday. A Republican primary for mayor is expected.

The Democratic Town Committee also endorsed a full slate of six burgesses. Incumbents Robert Burns, Patrick Scully, Laurie Taf Jackson and Rocky Vitale received endorsements for re-election. Kathleen Donovan, who previously served as the chair of the Board of Education, and Carl Herb, who has served on the Zoning Commission and Fire Commission, were also endorsed as burgess candidates.

The committee endorsed three candidates for Board of Education, incumbents Ethel Grant and James Scully, and Jill Mahoney, who was appointed in April to fill the term of the late James Jordan. The committee can endorse up to five candidates for the school board.

The committee endorsed Remzi “John” Nasufi, co-owner of Vinny’s Pizza, for the Planning Commission, and cross-endorsed incumbent Town Clerk Michelle Dowling, a Republican.

The committee is still seeking two people to run for the Board of Education, two people to run for the Zoning Commission and one person to run for the Planning Commission.

The committee voted to give its executive board the authority to fill vacant seats by July 28.