Freshman Democratic state Rep. Frank Nicastro won’t get a free ride for a second term.
Republican Derek Jerome, who has sought the job unsuccessfully in the past, said Wednesday that voters need to turn to the GOP “to try to do something to get these taxes, these finances, under control, because they’re out of control.”
Jerome, who runs a title search company, said the new campaign finance rules make it far more feasible to take on a well-known incumbent than in previous years, when challengers could rarely match the spending of veteran lawmakers.
Nicastro, a former mayor who remains a city councilor, won the 79th District seat that spans the southern third of Bristol in 2006 after knocking out longtime state Rep. Kosta Diamantis in a tight primary battle. He easily won the general election.
Jerome, 38, said that that without public campaign financing that “kind of puts everyone on a level playing field” he would have thought twice about running.
But with the chance to match the incumbent’s campaign financially, “it makes it more feasible for somebody to take on a name like Frank Nicastro,” Jerome said, adding that everyone knows Nicastro and either loves him or hates him.
Jerome, who lost two races against Diamantis, said he’s “been wanting to do it for awhile” once more, but refrained for lack of time and money.
He said he’ll be able “be able to run the kind of campaign I’d like to run” this year.
Jerome said he’ll stay low-key for a time, putting together his platform and working to coordinate his race with other Republican hopefuls because people generally aren’t paying much attention for months, particularly with the presidential race capturing everyone’s attention.
Jerome said that people need to recognize letting one party stay in control is a costly mistake, no matter which party holds sway. There’s a need to get “ideas and input from both sides.”
He said he figures that as taxes soar on the heels of rising energy costs and sinking revenue for state coffers, “a big uproar” about property taxes is likely.
“Something’s got to give,” Jerome said, urging officials to search for ways to deliver services more efficiently and to hold the line on spending.
Jerome was born in Massachusetts but has lived in the Mum City most of his life.
Jerome attended Bristol Central High School but did not graduate, he said, because of health problems. He later earned his GED. He has since taken some insurance industry courses and sold insurance.
The Jerome Agency does real estate title searching. Jerome Enterprises, Inc., Jerome's other company, is primarily involved in real estate investing. Jerome has been actively involved with a local landlords’ group, the Greater Bristol Property Owners Association.
Jerome is married to the former Teri Bellino. They have two sons, Derek, Jr and Brandon, who is five weeks old.
The Republicans will formally nominate Jerome next week. Legislators serve two-year terms for $28,000 annually. The election is November 4.
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