By MIKE CHAIKEN
At a Bristol Democratic Town Com-mittee meeting May 15, which was preceded the week before by a series of social media videos enticing potential voters to attend the gathering, Ellen Zoppo-Sassu declared her intention to run once again for mayor.
Zoppo-Sassu’s announcement sets up a rematch of the 2015 election between the former councilor and sitting Republican Mayor Ken Cockayne.
Zoppo-Sassu’s decision to run, despite the Democrats’ attempt to create some buzz, comes as no surprise because the former candidate barely receded into the background after her loss. Cockayne helped boost her profile by publicly criticizing her in traditional media and social media.
In her announcement speech, Zoppo-Sassu mapped out what is likely to be the road map her party will follow in the campaign, which also will see the election of a new council. The Democrat spoke about integrity, citing the late President John F. Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage” and former President Barack Obama.
“It’s absolutely about integrity,” said Zoppo-Sassu.
Zoppo-Sassu also made several pointed comments about the investigation of Cockayne that she said is still accruing bills for the city.
Cockayne was censured by the council as a whole following a report that said he had engaged in retaliation against an employee “for raising her concerns of perceived sexual harassment.” He also was found to have threatened Atty. Richard Lacey of the corporate counsel for investigating the claim.
In her speech, which was streamed live over Facebook, Zoppo-Sassu also set out some of the priorities for her administration. She criticized Cockayne for not doing enough to fill the vacant lot that housed the now-demolished Bristol Centre Mall. She also criticized the current administration for letting Memorial Boulevard School sit vacant.
Zoppo-Sassu has sat on city committees exploring the use of what used to be the old Bristol High School.
“Investing in improving the quality of life is about more than knocking down buildings and photo ops,” Zoppo-Sassu said in one of several salvoes aimed at the Republican incumbent.
“Good enough should not be ideal for Bristol,” said Zoppo-Sassu. “There is definitely untapped potential in Bristol.”
As part of the announcement, the Democrats aired a video touting Zoppo-Sassu’s qualification and levied criticism of the mayor. The video opened up with new First District candidate Greg Hahn playing trumpet outside a locked Boulevard School. It included an interview with a representative from the nonprofit For Goodness Sake, in which the representative praises Zoppo-Sassu for her assistance and altruism toward the group. And the video featured a rooftop skit with a Democrat wielding a long list of qualities sought in a future mayor while skewering the current mayor for his perceived peccadilloes.
In addition to Zoppo-Sassu and Hahn, Peter Kelley announced his intention to run in the second district. He will be running alongside incumbent Democrat David Preleski. They will run against Republicans Andrew Howe and incumbent Jodi Zils-Gagne in that district.
A second Democrat hasn’t stepped forward to run with Hahn in the first district.
Calvin Brown, the incumbent Democrat in the first district, has opted to sit this election out after moving from the first district to the second district. The Republicans running in the first district are Eric Carlson, a former councilor, and incumbent Anthony D’Amato.
In the third district, Republicans David Mills—the incumbent—and Cheryl Thibeault are running against Democrat Mary Fortier. A second Democrat in the third district has not been tapped yet.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.