Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this:
To honor a man who believed that voters should have a choice, and that no candidate should run unopposed, Bristol Republicans are putting a candidate on the ballot in place of the late Derek Jerome.
David L. Norton will fill the spot Jerome occupied on the ballot, running against Democratic incumbent Rep. Frank Nicastro for the 79th district state House seat.
"In memory of him, I'm doing it," said Norton, a Federal Hill resident and insurance broker with Tracey Driscoll.
Norton said he's not in it to win.
"It's a matter of principle," said Norton.
Besides, Nicastro is "doing a great job," Norton said.
"I like him very much," said Norton. "I've no desire to unseat Frank."
Jerome, 38, died this week of an apparent suicide. Friends found him dead in his antique Cadillac convertible Tuesday afternoon, the engine running in a closed garage. Financial worries were weighing on Jerome, an entrepreneur and married father of two, according to T.J. Barnes, the chairman of the Bristol Republican Town Committee.
Barnes said committee members met Wednesday and discussed whether to put forth another candidate in Jerome's place.
"They felt the best way to honor Derek was to make sure there was a choice," said Barnes. "Dave's name will be on the ballot."
Norton said Jerome "came close to withdrawing" as a candidate a few months ago, but changed his mind when no one else wanted to run.
"He stayed with it," said Norton.
But Barnes acknowledged that it won't be a vigorous campaign.
"It's more of a symbolic move to honor Derek Jerome and his wishes that there was a choice on the ballot," said Barnes.
"It's not realistic to think that we can outvote Frank Nicastro," said Norton.
Norton is "a gentleman" who "sounds very honorable," said Nicastro.
"I have a lot of respect for him," Nicastro said. "I understand what he's doing."
With less than two weeks before Election Day, there isn't much choice, according to Barnes.
"How much can you do?" Barnes said. "The logistics of such a thing are just impossible."
Norton, who is not related to former Mayor Stretch Norton, was born and raised in Hartford, he said.
He's lived in Bristol for about 14 years, said Norton, and also lived in the Mum City in the past. He and his wife, Patricia Norton, have been married 12 years. He has three sons from a previous marriage who all live in Bristol, two step-daughters in the area and several grandchildren.
His only run for public office before this, Norton said, was in 1992 when he ran a close but unsuccessful race for town council in Southington.
In Bristol, he serves on the Historic District Commission.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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