Two years after a bitter primary fight that left many party regulars sour, the Democrats united Monday to back a second term for Mayor Art Ward.
“We had a fractured party” in 2007, said city Councilor Cliff Block, but now the Democrats have come together.
Ward said he expects times to remain tough for the next term, but “there’s hope out there” that the tide may turn. “We have to keep looking for that sunshine,” the mayor said.
The party endorsed all of its incumbents who are seeking reelection and four new City Council hopefuls aiming to fill seats held by Republicans or by Democrats who are stepping down in November.
The only contest at Monday’s nominating convention came in the 2nd District, where three men vied for two slots. The party backed incumbent Kevin McCauley, a city firefighter, and history teacher Allen Marko.
Former city Councilor Tom Ragaini, who lost by a hair, said a primary wouldn’t help the Democrats so he doesn’t plan to challenge the decision.
“I don’t want to split the party,” he said.
The Democrats rallied unanimously behind city Treasurer Bill Veits’ bid for a second term in the part-time post he won in 2007 after long-time Treasurer Patti Ewen retired. Veits faces Republican Rose Parenti, who owns a computer company.
In the 1st District, the party endorsed first-term incumbent Cliff Block and newcomer Kevin Fuller.
Fuller, a technology specialist in the school system, called himself “an average Joe” who can think outside the box. He vowed to push the city to consider wind power options.
Block and Fuller will face Republicans Mike Rimcoski, a council veteran, and newcomer Eldianne Bishop.
McCauley and Marko in the 2nd District -- who garnered 10 and 11 votes, respectively, to Ragaini’s 9 -- face GOP contenders Ken Cockayne, who is seeking a second term, and newcomer Richard Scarola.
Marko promised to push for rail service to the city and to preserve municipal services.
McCauley said he’ll offer a trusted voice and proven leadership.
In the 3rd District, where two incumbent Democrats are stepping down, the party tapped a long-time activist, Terry Parker, and newcomer Kate Matthews.
Matthews, a lawyer who billed herself as a hard-working fiscal conservative, said she’ll make sure there’s no waste and that the city pinches every penny.
Parker, a state records supervisor, said that victory in November will come from hard work “not because we say we’re Democrats.” He said he and Matthews will make “a great team.”
They’ll face Republicans Dave Mills and Derek Czenczelewski.
Ward took office in 2007 after defeating a tough GOP challenger, Ken Johnson, and knocking off the party’s endorsed candidate, Ellen Zoppo, in a primary.
The 2007 race was wide open because the incumbent, Republican William Stortz, opted not to seek reelection. He won the job in 2005 by ousting Democratic Mayor Gerard Couture.
With the exception of Stortz, who has held the city’s top job in both the early 1990s and again before Ward’s victory, the GOP hasn’t had a mayoral winner in more than a quarter century.
But the Republicans have been competitive since former Mayor Frank Nicastro, a Democrat, stepped down after a decade in office in 2003.
City Councilors and the mayor serve two-year terms. Councilors earn $10,000 annually while the mayor gets $100,000. The election is November 3.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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