When Gary Lawton sought to run on the Republican ticket for a City Council seat, the GOP turned him down cold. He garnered little support in the nominating convention and left the session disappointed and at least a little angry.
"It just seems like politicians will never change here," Lawton said on his way out the door.
Now he's decided to give voters the option to bypass both parties on November 3.
Lawton began collecting signatures Sundayto press an independent mayoral bid. He apparently needs 115 registered voters, of any party, to sign his forms by 4 p.m. on Wednesday. He's aiming for more, of course, in case some signatures are thrown out.
"Insteadof sticking my toe in the water, I'm taking the plunge," Lawton said.
He said that the Democrats, who have controlled City Hall for a generation, have posted a record that is "not bad," but they've simply been in charge too long.
"We need something new," he said. "Sometimes change is a good thing."
Lawton, a 46-year-old welder, called himself "plain and simple and blue collar" but ready to lead the community in a new direction, to lend a hand to residents who are suffering through hard times and to remove politics from the decision-making.
If Lawton can collect the required signatures, he'll take on first-term incumbent Art Ward, a Democrat, and newcomer John Gill, a Republican. It doesn't appear that either Ward or Gill face a primary.
Lawton is a Bristol Central High School graduate who has lived in Bristol since middle school. He attended college on a wrestling scholarship, but had to give it up after two years when he hurt his knee.
He said he joined the Air Force after leaving college, but the knee completely blew during his military stint, leaving him unable to serve.
He and his wife, Brenda, have five children.
Lawton said anyone interested in helping his campaign can reach him at (860) 819-7851 or by email at email@example.com.
I'll have more on this later.
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