NAUGATUCK — Republican mayoral candidate James O’Sullivan announced Tuesday morning he is suspending his campaign for health reasons, but not withdrawing from the race.
“Regretfully, I must announce my decision to temporarily suspend my participation in the 2013 mayoral campaign in the Borough of Naugatuck,” said O’Sullivan in an emailed statement. “This difficult decision was one made after consultation with my physician and family.”
O’Sullivan, a 59-year-old practicing attorney with a law office on Church Street, said in the statement he was hospitalized Oct. 10 following and undisclosed medical scare.
“For now, I will be spending some time focusing on my health and medical testing until further notice,” Sullivan wrote.
Republican Town Committee Chairman Dorothy Hoff said, in an emailed statement, Sullivan and his wife, Barbara, spoke to her about their concerns Monday.
“The Republican Town Committee and our slate will continue to put our energy into getting our Republican candidates elected,” Hoff said.
O’Sullivan and Hoff both said he will not be dropping out of the race.
“For clarity, I am not withdrawing from the election. I made a commitment to the people of Naugatuck and to my party. The residents of Naugatuck deserve to have the opportunity to elect a mayor who is dedicated to turning this borough around and I intend to give them that. In the interim, I will still be supporting the candidates who I know and believe have the same vision for Naugatuck as I do,” wrote O’Sullivan, who thanked his wife, family, friends and supporters.
Town Clerk Michelle Dowling said if O’Sullivan ends up officially withdrawing from the race, the Secretary of the State could order the borough to reprint ballots or stick labels over his name. If the withdrawal comes too late for that, Dowling said the borough would issues numerous press releases and announcements to let voters know.
“His numbers just wouldn’t count,” Dowling said.
O’Sullivan is challenging incumbent Democrat Mayor Robert Mezzo.
In response to the O’Sullivan’s announcement, Mezzo wished him a speedy recovery.
“The thoughts and prayers of our family are with attorney O’Sullivan for a speedy recovery,” Mezzo said in an email. “Anyone who commits to serving their community in any capacity should be commended, but one’s health and family should always take priority.”
Hoff said in the statement she has great respect for people who volunteer to serve the community.
“Putting yourself on the ballot takes great courage and a lot of hard work, not to mention the time spent away from your family or with your family walking the neighborhoods handing out literature and planting lawn signs,” Hoff wrote. “On our Nov. 5 municipal ballot, voters will find the names of people, from both the Republican and the Democrat Party, who offer to serve for unselfish reasons, incumbents who have never benefited personally, and those who want to be elected to the Board of Burgesses, Board of Education, Zoning Commission and all the other positions, just to make a positive difference in our community.”
Aside from announcing he is suspending his campaign, O’Sullivan took issue, in the release, with an Oct. 10 article published on Naugatuck Patch regarding a mayoral debate Patch was organizing. He contends his words were taken out of context and denied he refused to debate.
The article, written by Patch Senior Local Editor Paul Singley, was about how the debate was canceled because O’Sullivan couldn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts.
O’Sullivan said in the statement he agreed to participate in the debate on Sept. 9, but he said he wasn’t made aware of the Oct. 15 date for the debate until it was posted on Facebook.
In an article published Oct. 15 on Naugatuck Patch, Singley said he spoke to O’Sullivan about the Oct. 15 debate date on Oct. 9 — the day after the tentative date was shared on the Naugatuck Patch Facebook page. At that time, O’Sullivan said he was unavailable on Oct. 15, Singley said.
“I told Mr. O’Sullivan that we would be willing to work in conjunction with other local media outlets to find a mutually acceptable date and location for the debate to occur between Mayor Mezzo and Mr. O’Sullivan. He said he could not because he plans well in advance and his calendar was full through December,” Singley said.
Singley added, “I wish Mr. O’Sullivan well as he deals with his personal matters.”
A mayoral luncheon and debate that was being held by the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 29 was canceled Tuesday afternoon.
The Republican American contributed to this article.