By KAITLYN NAPLES
Having changed his party affiliation a few months ago, now-Democrat Chris Wilson has announced his intention to run for mayor under the Democratic ticket this coming election.
Wilson said even though he has been a lifelong Republican, he said he always viewed himself as moderate: “high on social activism while fiscally conservative.”
Wilson, 58, has lived in Bristol for 30 years and owns his own business, CV Mason Insurance Agency. He moved here from Massachusetts, and raised three children. He also has five grandchildren who live in Bristol. Wilson is currently the chair of the Board of Education, and has been involved in educational organizations such the Capital Region Education Council for 10 years. He said his platform throughout his campaign will most likely focus around education, as it is something he feels very strongly about, he said.
“We must support and finance a first class 21st century education system in Bristol,” Wilson said at last week’s Democratic Town Committee meeting. “Education is a critical quality of life issue as well as an economic issue. If we want new citizens to invest in our community by buying the existing housing stock or building new homes, we must provide the quality of life that competing towns offer such as quality education, including all-day kindergarten.”
Wilson said since he has been more involved in the Board of Education and other city organizations, he has noticed that Bristol could improve the way it operates.
Wilson said if he becomes mayor, he wants to change the culture at City Hall. He said he wants more thoughtful discussion and reasoned responses, civility, and meetings that are run more professionally.
“Too much time is spent on bickering and being partisan. I will work with anyone who wants to make Bristol a better community to work, raise a family and live,” he said.
Wilson also said he wants to engage the public more, and encourage younger generations, and a more diverse population to get involved in city government, “instead of letting few people make all the decisions.”
Another focus for Wilson will be to shift the City Council to look into public policy and legislative issues more often, and less on operation issues and leave that to the city’s administrators.
“We have professional staff and managers who can and should be allowed to carry out their responsibilities of administering city business,” he said. “Our elected officials should not drift into micromanaging routine operational issues.”
Wilson said attracting more residents and businesses to Bristol is key, and that the city’s elected officials need to create an environment that entrepreneurs and developers want to invest in and create more jobs.
“We must streamline the permitting process with land use boards and must become more public friendly,” he said, adding that the city needs to make Bristol the first option for developers. “Growth of the grand list is critical for the growth of Bristol.”
He also touched upon the quality of life in the city, and ensuring a clean and safe park system, and more activities for youths. He also said he would support the allocation of resources for code enforcement and the remediation of blighted properties in Bristol, while also taking into consideration the limited fiscal resources.
Wilson said his background and knowledge in public service, business, military experience, and leadership roles in many different organizations would make him an ideal candidate for mayor.
“The challenges facing Bristol are significant. But if we all work together we can make Bristol a better place to live, work and raise our families. I believe our best days are ahead of us,” Wilson said. “We must embrace this new vision so that we as a city can be successful.”
Republican City Councilor Ken Cockayne announced his run for mayor towards the end of last year. If each party endorses each candidate, Cockayne and Wilson will square off for the city’s top job this November.
Wilson joined three other Democrats that announced their candidacy at last week’s meeting.
Calvin Brown, 20, announced his candidacy for a council seat in the first district. Brown said people may be critical of his age, however he believes the younger generation needs to be involved in the future of their communities. They are also assets to the city because they are from the generation more in tune with advancement in technology and other ideals.
“I believe this city needs new leaders and new ideas,” Brown said at last week’s Democratic Town Committee meeting. “Younger generations need to be engaged and invested in this cities long term health and prosperity.”
Brown is a graduate of Bristol Eastern High School and is a junior at Central Connecticut State University studying political science in the honors program. He said he is ready to bring new ideas to the city, and will be able to reach a different population in the city that it will need to achieve long-term goals. Brown is also a supporter of Bristol’s educational system and said it is the city’s greatest asset.
If elected, Brown said, “the elected members of our Board of Education can count on me to be a reliable and supportive ally to our teacher, faculty, parents, and students all across this city, because I believe that the young people of our community are the future. Investing in them now will pay off tomorrow.”
As a Democrat, Brown said he believes all public servants and citizens deserve to be treated with respect and decency, and should be provided with an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns to ensure the best life possible.
“I do know I can act with integrity and honesty,” Brown said. “I know I can bring energy, enthusiasm, and experience to this office. And I know I can learn about the things I do not know.”
Also planning to run in the first district is Democrat Stephen Jeffries, who has lived in Bristol for the last 21 years. He has a military background, and is working on his doctorate in human resources and has always wanted to be in politics.
“We’re in a time of excitement and opportunities for each and every one of us,” Jeffries said.
He said he wants education available for everyone, and added that the city can “do better with the Democrats” in control. “Together we can find solutions to overcome obstacles.”
Another Democrat, Mary Fortier, is seeking the nomination for the third district council seat, and reflected upon the things that have, and have not, changed in Bristol. Fortier referred to the fact that in 1976 there was only one woman on the council, as there is right now.
“We know that our unity as a party is crucial to our success and our party is crucial to the success in Bristol,” Fortier said, adding that she received degrees in law and education, and pursued a job in public service as a state employee.
Currently, the two Democrats, Stephen Jeffries and Calvin Brown, are the only candidates that are seeking nominations for the first council district. Democrat Tim Gamache and Republican Henri Martin are seeking nominations for the second district, and Democrat Mary Fortier, and Republicans Derek Czenczelewski and Tom Hick are seeking nominations for the third district.
By KAITLYN NAPLES