November 15, 2011

Photos from Bristol's Inauguration

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Alford: 'Bristol is a special place'

Note from former Republican mayoral candidate Mary Alford:
Election 2011 is over and the citizens of Bristol have decided who their city leaders will be for the next two years.
First, I would like to congratulate Mayor Ward on his re-election and thank Gary Lawton and Jason Flores for their participation.
Congratulations to all who have been elected or re-elected to serve the City of Bristol.
To my campaign team, my family and friends and my “family” on the Bristol Republican Town committee, thank you for all you have done to support me. You’re the best!
This was a longer campaign for me than the on in 2009 and it has afforded me the privilege to get to know even more of our citizens. What a pleasure that has been for me. Bristol is a special place because of all of you. Thank you for being welcoming and friendly, for your thoughts and questions and ideas.
For those of you who cast your votes for me, thank you seems an inadequate response but it’s the one we’re given to use so - Thank You! Your faith in me will not be forgotten.
I am looking forward to the future of Bristol and will continue to serve, not only on the Transportation Commission, but wherever and whenever I can. We have much to look forward to here and there is much work to be done but, as always, Bristol will be showing the rest how it’s done.
Thank you all, once again.
Mary Alford

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 9, 2011

Election Night photos in Bristol

Checking the count at the American Legion polling place, just after the polls closed Tuesday.

Mayor Art Ward waiting for results, at a time when it appeared he might lose.
Mayor Art Ward watching results come in at the Polish Club.
Republican Mary Alford gives Mayor Art Ward a congratulatory hug.

Mayor Art Ward and Republican challenger Mary Alford, who nearly beat him and led the GOP to its most successful municipal election win in years.

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 7, 2011

Problems at the polls?

Are you having a problem at your polling place? You can keep your neighbors and key public officials informed about voting irregularities by publicly documenting them in real time here with SeeClickFix, CTNewsJunkie and the Bristol Blog. The map below is designed to help you report problems experienced during voting. It is not a way to report life-threatening emergencies — just problems casting your ballot. Click on “Report an Issue” and drag the marker to the rough location of your polling place in your town, and then click “Report Here” to fill out the form. The address does not need to be exact, but be sure to list the name of your polling place in your report.
Do not include your personal information in your report unless you are OK with that information being published on the Internet and visible to readers here.
For information on Connecticut’s voting identification requirements, click here.
For Spanish language forms and voting requirements for people with disabilities,click here.
Remember, if for some reason your name was omitted from the list of registered voters in your town, request a provisional ballot and vote before you leave your polling place.
If you would like to contact the Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office directly about your problem, you can call 860-509-6100 or email them here. The Secretary’s office will be monitoring issues reported here. If you feel you have spoken to everyone available at your polling place and still need to file a formal complaint, notify the moderator at your polling place, and then call Elections Enforcement at 866-733-2463 (Press 5). The U.S. Dept. of Justice can be reached at 1-800-253-3931.
When you report an issue below, include your first name, polling place, and any or all of the following keywords in your report to be sure it gets through to the right people: voting vote “polling place” “election day” poll election ballot ballots “missing ballots” “missing ballot” 

Thanks to Doug Hardy and Lon Seidman for sharing this tool with websites across Connecticut!

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 5, 2011

Ward kept mum about costly education measure

An email exchange obtained by The Bristol Press shows that Mayor Art Ward knew the city budget adopted in June might shortchange education by $2.6 million yet he said nothing about it to city councilors, the Board of Finance or the public.
Art Ward
Ward received an email from school Superintendent Philip Streifer a day before the city’s adopted its spending plan on June 2 that warned him about proposed legislation in Hartford that would reverse Bristol’s plan to slice education spending from $102.6 million to $100 million.
Had the city included the extra money in the budget, property taxes would have gone up by half a mill instead of remaining frozen at last year’s level.
Ward said Wednesday that he never meant to keep anything secret.
“Everything happened last minute,” the mayor said, and “I didn’t realize the impact of this.”
He said that he didn’t tell anyone about it – not even state lawmakers who later approved the measure – because events were moving so fast that he simply never thought of it.
“It’s slam, slam, slam,” Ward said, and things sometimes fall through the cracks.
Ward said the proposal that would have forced Bristol to maintain education spending levels hadn’t yet passed and he wasn’t sure it ever would. He said the city had to pass a budget on June 2 with no way to tell if it would be forced to pay more.
But Republican Mary Alford, who is seeking to unseat Ward in a three-way race next Tuesday, said Ward’s failure to share the information he knew was both “irresponsible” and demonstrated “a completely lack of leadership.”
“All he had to say was the truth,” she said, but he didn’t do it.  Click here for rest of story.

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Lawton response to Ward and Alford

Independent mayoral candidate Gary Lawton issued this press release today in response to Republican Mary Alford's plan for her first 100 days and the story in today's paper about Mayor Art Ward's knowledge of pending legislation that would force more education spending.

Gary Lawton
With the fact that Mayor Ward knew of the impending legislation, as did Mr. Striefer and our legislative representives only goes to prove that this was something both parties wanted to keep a zero increase in the mill rate. How many of us would have been happy if our taxes gone up especially during an election time. Mayor Ward has given 3 different statement, but never has said he is sorry for the problem, the best we got was "it is what it is", Is that really what a leader should say. Mayor Ward the people of Bristol deserve an apology and you and Mr. Striefer and our elected representative should all apologize for your lack of consideration and honesty on this issue. Let's face it you knew, Mr. Striefer knew and so did our elected representatives that serve us here in Bristol. The real leader would say he made the mistake and take it, you and the others have not.
    Mrs. Alfords doctrine is hard to comprehend. First she has said we have the best police department is the state but in her doctrine questions it by saying it troubles her .Her party has people on the council they too should have been speaking out agianst the short staffing of the police department, does the Republican party have so little concern for the saftey of its residenst here in Bristol, that the Republican city council people just let it go, or kept its head in the sand. She would like to see the flood control commission meet, butshe fails to say while she will meet with state and federal officials, there our towns that also are on the rivers, can they do the same thing to help us downstream, we can do alot but if we dont get those up river from us to cooperate it will be futile and we will still have problems.
  Her marketing of Bristol gives nothing, I have given ideas and thoughts on how to do this, she has not and will rely on the way things are done now, which are at best slow, to market Bristol . I will as Mayor always propose proactive ways to market Bristol.
    These are a few things I see wrong with Mrs. Alfords doctrine. It is time to get away from the tradional politics. I as Mayor will bring you a new energy and outlook that I see sorely missing from our current leaders. I will not let our " heads operate in the sand" any longer. I will think outside of the box and make sure it goes the way it should. I will take politics out of the way buiseness is done in our city hall. It is time to take our government back for the people and I am going to do that as your Mayor.

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 3, 2011

Alford details her plans for first 100 days

Republican mayoral candidate Mary Alford release this press release this morning:

Alford Releases the “Alford Doctrine.”

(Bristol) Mary Alford, the Republican nominee for Mayor of the City of Bristol, today released a document she entitled the “Alford Doctrine.”  The package lists the projects and the goals for the first 100 days of her administration.
“I believe that the voters of Bristol, who will be going to the polls on Election Day need to know what my priorities are and what I hope to accomplish in my administration,” Alford added, “No Mayoral candidate in recent memory has issued such a document and I believe it’s time that the voters know that the next Mayor won’t be winging it.”
Among the top priorities will be public safety, flood control, blight and fiscal responsibility.  “All these issues are aimed at one goal – improving the quality of life in Bristol and reducing the tax obligation that we annually pass on to the tax payers of Bristol,” Alford said.
“Government has the attitude in these tough economic times that they can spend our way out of this recession – it hasn’t worked,” Alford continued, “ The only thing that has happened is more people are out of work and the cost of government has increased.”
Alford insisted, “My administration will change that trend. I will roll up my sleeves and I expect out Department Heads to do the same thing and find areas of government where we can streamline and not reduce services to the people of Bristol.”  Alford added, “This will require creativity and I believe that the more we open our ears and listen to the people of Bristol, the more we will find common ground.”
“This document represents my goals for the first 100 days of my administration,” Alford concluded, “there is much work that needs to be done and these bullet points are just the beginning of changing the status quo in Bristol.”
The Alford Doctrine

Goals set forth by Bristol Republican Mary Alford for her first 100 days in office as Mayor of the City of Bristol.

Public Safety:   I am extremely concerned about the staffing levels of the Bristol Police Department.  I believe that we are woefully understaffed and I find the fact that we only have 9 Police Officers on third shift troubling.
My first priority as Mayor will be to sit down with Chief Osanitch and the Bristol Police Commission to determine what our needs are and bring the staffing levels up to par.

Flood Control:  I will not wait until the next hurricane or tropical storm to seek funding for flood control in our community.  These areas: the center of Forestville, Frederick Street, Rockwell Park area, Broad Street among others have heard the promises of many administrations and those promises have born no fruit.
In my administration, the Flood Control Commission will return to monthly meetings.  I will also be sitting down with our state and federal legislative delegations to make sure we receive any and all funding available to Bristol to fix this problem once and for all.  In addition, I will direct our grant writer to apply for all available grants regardless of dollar amount.
The time for doing nothing with regards to the flooding that has plagued Bristol residents has ended.

Blight: It is amazing to me that we still have to talk about this issue campaign after campaign. The issue of blight has escalated, partly due to the number of foreclosed homes in Bristol.  Neighborhoods are being ripped apart by blighted properties which is lowering property values and driving up taxes.
I will unleash our Building Department and allow them to do their job to rein in absentee landlords who create so many of these problems.  Unfortunately, in today’s economy, many Banks and finance companies have become absentee landlords themselves.
As an example of blighted property, I will direct the Building Department to notify the owners of the abandoned Pat’s IGA on Divinity Street to either clean up their property, tear it down or price it too sell.  Allowing this property to continue to deteriorate in plain view adds another eyesore to the West End and it’s a problem that could have been fixed if we had real leadership at City Hall.

Downtown Redevelopment: This is an easy solution – stay out of the way and let Renaissance Downtowns do their job while City Hall does its job by streamlining the bureaucratic processes to assist those efforts.  The proposal recently approved by the Bristol City Council and the BDDC will be a boon for Bristol.
Since the purchase of the Mall property in 2004, the residents of Bristol have been waiting with interest to see this property developed.  I intend to lift the thumb and allow them to get this project underway. 
I am especially excited to see the number of young Bristol residents participating in the new group, “Bristol Rising.” I encourage all Bristol residents to join this group, ask questions, make suggestions and volunteer your time. Come down to City Hall, pick up your orange shirt and become part of this nationally recognized trend.  Bristol is leading the way with respect to community involvement in its downtown redevelopment and I intend to be its biggest cheerleader.

Marketing Bristol: With the recent completion of Route 72 and the new plans for our downtown property, now is the time that we foster a real working partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and learn to use the tools they already employ to market our community.
One quick suggestion is now that Route 72 is complete the time has come to consider to once again allow on street parking in the center of Forestville.  This will enable more businesses to prosper and grow and return the Village of Forestville to its small community roots.  The Center of Forestville can once again become a quaint community and our job is to facilitate that development along with the Forestville Village Association and the BDA.
With the closing of three Bristol schools we now have the opportunity to solicit Request for Qualifications (RFQ’S) from developers and private enterprise to put these properties back on the tax rolls and help lower your property tax burden. 
No more $70,000 studies with no resultant actions being taken – the time for action is now and I will ask the City Council to issue these RFQ’s within my first 100 days.

Mass Transportation:  I have said it before and it bears repeating, Bristol residents view our roads as parking lots with houses on them.  The number of cars and trucks on our roads has swelled to record numbers. The number one solution to this problem is light rail.
Unlike the current Mayor, I will be an advocate for Bristol on this issue.  I won’t turn my back on the taxpayers as a favor to another Mayor, Governor or Congressman.  I will put the needs of our community first.
My first priority is to use the Mayor’s Office to help stop the funding of the New Britain to Hartford bus way.  This 1 billion dollar boondoggle, strongly supported by our Mayor, needs to be halted……. immediately.
Studies have shown that the most prosperous communities all have rail as their anchor mode of mass transit, supplemented by buses. Property values increase and economies grow.  Now, that’s a “jobs bill” I’m in favor of. It works.

Open Government:  In my travels around town during this campaign I have heard a chorus of complaints from Bristol voters that they feel their voices aren’t heard.  They feel that they voice their opinions on an issue and then the politicians do whatever they please.
No more!
I intend to hold monthly office hours around town.  I will institute a “Mayor on the Street” program so you can come and meet your Mayor.  In addition, I will also block two hours each Thursday from 3pm to 5pm where you can come to City Hall and meet me in my office, no appointment necessary.
We may not always agree and city government may not be the entity to solve your problem. I and City Hall staff will do our best to see to it that you do get to the right place to address your concern. In the end you will know that I listened to your concerns. You deserve a government that is more open to you.
In addition to the above concerns I have also heard that many Bristol residents are upset over what they call secrecy in government at City Hall.  They feel that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. 
My administration will no longer be negotiating budget cuts and consolidations in private.  I intend to create a Mayor’s Task force on Education spending that will have members of the Board of Education, Board of Finance, City Council and PTO’s.  We will open these sessions up to the public and let you offer suggestions to help reduce education spending and put more money in the classrooms where it belongs. We will then take these suggestions to the Board of Education meetings. At the end of the day, if you, the parents who are the “consumers” of education, hold them accountable, we may just be able to make a real difference for our children.
The days of parents and students coming to beg for funding are over and I will stand with you to hold the Board of Education accountable for the way they spend every dollar.

Youth:  Have you noticed the apathy of some of our young people in regards to government and voting? We had that pointed out to us loud and clear this year. We need to develop a comprehensive plan to offer our youth opportunities to learn how their city works and opportunities to serve.
The solution to this problem is not going to be easy, but I’m not going to talk about it any longer – I’m going to take action.
I intend to work with City departments and the unions about creating a High School Internship Program at City Hall that will help our children learn valuable skills and instill in them that government is important and service even more so.
It’s all going to be turned over to them some day. They need the knowledge and skills to do that today, not tomorrow, and I believe it is our responsibility to teach them.
General Government: Within the first 100 days, I intend to ask each of our department heads to provide me a list of capital needs.  We won’t be hiring a consultant to do a capital needs assessment, instead, we will use the talent we have right here in Bristol.  I also intend to ask the employees of each department to make suggestions to my office directly as to the equipment they need to help them do their jobs.
For example – why do the employees of the Park Department mow our lawns with 20” inch lawn mowers and not riding lawn mowers?  These are some of the questions that need answers and if it’s equipment they need I will put forth a plan to the City Council and Board of Finance.
As you can see, there is much work to be done.  I intend to hit the ground running.  Now that you know some of my priorities as Mayor, I hope you will weigh in and offer suggestions to not only help to identify problems but to solve them as well.
As Mayor, I will be the CEO of your city. You have the right to expect open and honest government.  You have the right to question your elected officials and you should demand that we solve these problems and not let them linger administration to administration.
When you consider your vote Please remember to “Make Mine Mary” and vote on November 8th.
I look forward to becoming your Mayor and working for you.

 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at