By KAITLYN NAPLES
Since 1999, Ken Cockayne has been involved in politics in Bristol, and said he wants to run for mayor in the November election because he has a passion for the city where he was born and raised.
The third-term Republican city councilor said he has a 13-year-old son who he wants to see graduate from high school, college, and then see him return back to live in Bristol. He said his son is one of the main reasons he is seeking the city’s top job.
Throughout his three terms, Cockayne said he has served on well over 20 boards, commissions and sub-committees, and has also held the position of “Acting Mayor,” twice.
“I know how city government works, in and out,” Cockayne said, adding that while Mayor Art Ward was in the hospital for several weeks, Cockayne served as the city’s acting mayor for part of that time. He is also currently acting mayor and has the experience of running the day-to-day operations of a mayor.
Over the course of many years, Cockayne said he hasn’t agreed with the way the city was attempting to attract business.
“We’ve been stagnant in bringing business to Bristol,” he said, adding over the last few months there have been changes in departments and new approaches, and said he is seeing more conversations and interest in showing vacant properties. If elected, Cockayne said he plans to reorganize the way the city is attracting business by “bringing it up to the 21st century” and increasing the use of social media.
“Companies rely on that (internet and social media),” he said.
Attracting more business to the city will bring new employees, customers, and families. Bristol has a large aging population, and Cockayne said the more businesses that are brought to Bristol, the younger families will see it as a thriving community.
“We have great schools,” he said, and a soon-to-be developed downtown area, which will also attract families who will want to live in Bristol.
“We can’t sit in the office and wait for the phone to ring anymore, we need to get out there and talk to the people and help the business base grow,” Cockayne said, adding that he believes incentives for businesses are another important part of bringing, and keeping business in the city.
Cockayne said, if elected, by the end of his first term as mayor he hopes to see the first phase of the downtown development plan “well under construction, if not completed, and moving right along onto phase 2.”
He said this project will be part of the city’s effort of “aggressively attacking blight,” which is one of Cockayne’s biggest issues and “pet peeves.”
“In the past, we’ve watched blight happen,” he said. “Now, we’re playing catch up.”
Cockayne has been involved in the downtown project, and said he knows the entire plan, in depth, and has also been active in discussions with the city’s Building Department regarding blight and how it is being addressed.
Another important issue on Cockayne’s agenda is keeping taxes low.
“We can’t continue on the path we’ve been on – spending, spending, spending,” he said, adding he will always be against a Board of Education budget that isn’t focused on the teachers and students, first.
“I believe education begins with the teachers and students,” he said, adding he is currently engaged to a teacher and knows how hard they work, but feels that the Bristol Board of Education believes education begins with the administrators.
Cockayne said he has always been a member of the Republican Party, because “I believe in smaller government, and not always looking for a handout.”
He said as a small business owner, he knows he has to “work hard for what you want” and knows that raising taxes isn’t the answer to having more services and programs.
Cockayne is president of Brokers Advanced Concepts Agency, a business he has been in with his father for 24 years, and has been the president for at least 10 years. His office is in the downtown area on Race Street, and said he is invested in his city. He has coached Little League, was president of the Bristol Slo Pitch Softball league, and is a former Rotarian. He has served on many commissions, committees and boards, including the Bristol Development Authority, Bristol Downtown Development Corporation, Public Works, Youth Services, the Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Housing Authority, and more.
He said, as mayor, he would have a “transparent administration, no scripted meetings, and an open door policy.”
There will be a mayoral debate, hosted by the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, on Monday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at St. Paul Catholic High School auditorium, 1001 Stafford Ave., Bristol.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.