By MIKE CHAIKEN
Two years ago, Democratic mayoral candidate Ellen Zoppo-Sassu lost in a squeaker— less than 200 votes— to Republican Ken Cockayne.
However, in Election 2017, Zoppo-Sassu overwhelmed the incumbent taking 59.33 percent (7,433 votes) to Cockayne’s 40.32 percent (5,502).
Write-in candidate Richard Krascenski received 44 votes.
By topping Cockayne on Election Day, Zoppo-Sassu became the city’s first female mayor.
Zoppo-Sassu will be in good company in the council chambers as the Democrats took five of the six seats on the council. Democratic incumbents David Preleski (in the Second District) and Mary Fortier (in the Third District) were reelected. Additionally, Democratic newcomers Greg Hahn and Joshua Medeiros were elected in the First District and freshman Democrat Peter Kelley was elected in the Second District.
The sole Republican on the council is now incumbent David Mills, who was reelected in the Third District.
Brittany Barney, in the Third District, was the only Democrat to fail to get a seat.
Republican incumbents Anthony D’Amato (First District) and Jodi Zils Gagne (Second District) were sent home. Additionally, Republican challengers Eric Carlson (First District), Andrew Howe (Second District), and Cheryl Thibeault (Third District) failed to earn seats on the council.
In an email message about the election, Zoppo-Sassu said: “The voters have spoken and there is no better way to honor their faith in us than to get to work after inauguration (this past Monday), and we are going to have the opportunity to do so since our first Council meeting is on Tuesday, Nov. 14.”
Dean Kilbourne, Democratic Town Committee chair, said after the election, “Bristol made history tonight in electing the first female mayor. But more important than that, we elected a leader to be proud of, a leader with knowledge experience and vision.”
Ken Cockayne, who did not return a message for a comment, did post on Facebook, “I want to thank everyone for all the support. We have accomplished so much in 4 years.”
However, in an additional comment that reflected the contentious, bruising nature of the 2017 mayoral campaign, Cockayne posted, “Bristol will become a extreme left wing socialist city. Not at first, it will happen slowly and before you know it. BAM.”
Jeff Caggiano, the Republican chair said after the election, “Congratula-tions to David Mills, Thomas Barnes (who was reelected as treasurer) and Mary Alford (who was elected to the Board of Assessment Appeals. Kudos to our (Democratic Town Committeee) counterparts. For the candidates, their families and volunteers who worked so hard for the last six months, please hold your head high. Republicans ran a positive and policy driven campaign. We will need universal resilience by all the great people that were involved in this process to insure that we keep Bristol moving in the right direction.”
The newly reelected and elected councilors were upbeat in their post-election comments on the results.
Preleski said via email, “Every election offers us a new beginning. I am extremely optimistic about our new council. I’m sure we all will work well together in a cooperative manner that serves Bristol the best way possible. Ellen will make sure all representatives have assignments that fit their respective experiences. We will have a representative government where we can openly exchange ideas and promote policies that advance the city’s interests. Personally, I want to continue to work on the details to promote economic development, specifically in downtown. I want to advance marketing issues differently, repair the relationship with the Board of Education and most importantly, I see several places where we can be more efficient. We need to change how we do business because I am concerned about the next budget cycle with the state. I’d rather be pro-active and prepared. Our new mayor is a critical thinker and understands the possible challenges better than most. “
“I am beyond thrilled with the team we have,” said Fortier via email. “I am looking forward to an era of increased communication and collaboration. “
Mills said in an email message, “I want to thank the voters for giving me the opportunity to serve again. My purpose in serving has always been to try to make Bristol a better place and I am being offered another opportunity to do that. There are many exciting things that are in place and are unfolding already. Center Square is progressing daily, incentive programs to entice new businesses and restaurants are being offered, cooperative programs between the (Bristol) Chamber of Commerce and the (Bristol Development Authority) are under way, a focus on manufacturing careers is being rolled out, to name a few. All of this, plus the realization of the completion of Memorial Boulevard School, will make for a very busy two years.”
“I’m still in awe of what happened on Tuesday night,” Medeiros said via email. “I knew that we had a really strong, unified and highly qualified team of leaders. We worked incredibly hard during the campaign to connect with as many people as we could because we knew how important this race was. It’s incredibly rewarding to have the community see that and entrust us with this responsibility. I’m really optimistic that we are entering a time of unity and that we can bring the community together. The collective goal of our entire team is to make Bristol the best it can be. To do this, we will work hard across all areas; economic development, education, and public safety just to name a few. Additionally, it needs to be everyone’s goal to make sure government is operating efficiently without waste. I plan to work with everyone (regardless of political affiliation) to make sure that happens.”
“As far as I am concerned,” said the other newcomer Kelley, “campaigning was the easy part of this process, now the work begins. The fine people of Bristol have resoundingly made clear what they want their leaders to stand for morally, ethically, and politically. We have been entrusted with a huge responsibility. We will not let the people down. We need to put people before party and help the city we all love reach its full potential. Ellen Zoppo Sassu will lead us in this undertaking and will deliver. I personally have never been more impressed with any politician I have met in my life. When all is said and done the citizens of Bristol will be equally impressed.”
“As exciting as Tuesday was,” said freshman councilor Hahn, “I am looking forward to getting started next week (the week ending Nov. 17). Ellen is an incredible and results-oriented leader. It will be a joy to work with someone as dedicated as Ellen and along side such a talented City Council. Here we go.”