Heading into Thursday’s Republican nominating convention, the GOP still lacks a mayoral contender to top the party’s municipal slate in this year’s city election.
But a potentially strong City Council contender emerged Wednesday when a popular retired coach and teacher, Dave Mills, declared his intention to seek a 3rd District seat.
Mills, 66, coached the Bristol Eastern High School football team for more than a quarter century and led it to the city’s only state football championship.
Though a newcomer to politics, Mills is both widely respected and well-known, qualities that may make him a formidable candidate for one of the two open seats in the district.
Party officials said Wednesday they believe they have a mayoral candidate who has the capacity to give incumbent Democrat Art Ward a run for his money in the November 3 municipal race. But they refused to name their potential champion.
Mills, who switched from the Democratic to Republican parties only recently, is the second GOP contender in what could be the most hotly contested district this year.
Already in the running is Derek Czenczelewski, another newcomer to the political scene.
But insiders said this week that at least two other possible Republican candidates may be interested in the seat, including Rose Parenti, who is widely known in GOP circles.
Mills said in a written statement Wednesday that he believes Bristol is at a crossroads.
He said he decided to run for office “because I believe Bristol’s future is at stake and I want to take an active role in shaping it.”
“The economic climate will be very challenging for the foreseeable future, yet we must all work together to find solutions that move our city forward,” Mills said.
The 3rd District is wide open this year because both incumbents, Democrats Craig Minor and Frank Nicastro, are stepping down.
“Frank and Craig served the City well and it will be an honor to follow in their footsteps,” Mills said. “I want to thank them both for all their hours of service to Bristol.”
On the Democratic side, there are two council hopefuls in the district, Terry Parker and Kate Matthews. Others may be eyeing the seat, too.
In addition to finding a mayoral candidate, the GOP has yet to have anyone come forward to run for treasurer or one of the 1st District seats.
But incumbent city Councilor Mike Rimcoski plans to run again on the GOP ticket in the 1st District.
In the 2nd District, incumbent Republican Councilor Ken Cockayne is seeking reelection. A newcomer, Richard Scarola, aims to join him in the council race.
Republican candidates are nominated by members of the town committee. Candidates who are passed over have the option of forcing a primary by gathering signatures from registered Republicans.
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