December 31, 2013

Looking ahead to 2014's politics

With the new year at hand, it's time to look ahead to a new round of campaigns and elections.
The big story in Connecticut, of course, will inevitably be the reelection bid of Gov. Dannel Malloy. Maybe it will mean more state cash flowing to Bristol. 
Locally, though, there are some interesting developments.
Jason Welch
There are races shaping up for the 31st District state Senate seat as well as the three state House districts that include Bristol: the 77th, 78th and 79th.
It appears almost certain that each of the incumbent state representatives will seek reelection, but it's not at all clear that state Sen. Jason Welch, a Bristol Republican, will do the same.
Welch is a busy lawyer with a big family, a guy who wants to see his kids' games and have more than a passing acquaintenanc with his wife.
He won the office in 2010 by knocking out longtime incumbent Democrat Tom Colapietro. He held off a strong challenge two years later by David Roche.
If Welch opts to sit out the contest, it will set off a scurry of activity as politicians on both sides of the aisle eye their prospects.
Since the district also includes Plainville, Plymouth, Thomaston and part of Harwinton, it's likely there may be contenders from the GOP-dominated western part of the district as well.
It's entirely possible, too, that House incumbents might be interested in the Senate seat, too, possibly creatin more opportunities for newcomers.
It could get pretty interesting.
One other race is worth keeping an eye on: the attempt by some Democrats to unseat two-term Registrar Mary Rydingsward. She's virtually certain to face a tough primary, whether or not she's the endorsed candidate.
But that's nothing new for her. She's won two primaries already, defeating two well-connected men in the process, Elliott Nelson and Bruce Suchinski.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

December 30, 2013

Help Youth Journalism International

As many of you know, I've been working with student journalists around the world for nearly two decades through a nonprofit called Youth Journalism International. It's a fabulous organization, run on the cheap, that has helped hundreds of young people find their voice, connect with peers in many lands and gain the skills and confidence to flourish in college and beyond.
If you're looking for a great place to send your charity dollars, try www. HelpYJI.org. Donation are tax deductible and, I promise, every penny will be used carefully.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Want to join the GOP's town committee? This is your chance.

Press release:
The Bristol Republican Town Committee will hold a caucus on January7, 2014 to elect 42 members to the 2014-2016 Bristol Republican Town Committee.  The caucus will be held at the Bristol Board of Education Auditorium at 7pm.
A snow date has been set for January 9th at the same time and location.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Bristol Republican Town Committee is asked to call T.J. Barnes at 860-314-0423 or Gary Schaffrick at 860-806-0609.
Only registered Republicans are allowed to participate in the caucus.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

December 19, 2013

Should the city buy gold? Maybe


Taxpayers may soon own a serious pile of gold.
The city's Retirement Board is weighing whether to double down on its investment in gold mining, buy gold itself or just quit the whole gold market entirely.
Thomas "TJ" Barnes, who heads the panel, said that its investment in gold mining hasn't done well over the past two years. He said it's time for the city "get out or double down" depending on what pension overseers think about the future of the gold market.
John Beirne, the city's pension advisor, said China is still buying gold at a stunning rate - hundreds of metric tons annually.
"That's a lot of jewelry," he said. "There's something else behind it."
Overall, Beirne said, there has been "a huge move of gold from the West to the East," but it's hard to know just why China is so interested in acquring so much of the metal.
He said there's no sign the country's slowing down its purchasing.
Barnes said, though, that the city's stake in mining companies is down 38 percent despite rising gold prices.
He said 2 percent of the nearly $600 million is tied up in the gold mining stocks.
"I'm not sold on the mining play," Barnes said. It hasn't panned out, he said.
On the other hand, he said, the market might be near the bottom so it may make sense to buy more rather than getting out.
Beirne said that when gold goes up, gold mining stocks should do even better. He said he would stick it out.
The board agreed to look into it more next month.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Chamber taps Jim Albert as next director

The Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce this week picked Jim Albert as its next director. Read the story here.

Update:
Here is the chamber's press release, issued a few hours after the story:

Jim Albert, right, talking with Steve Jeffries
The Central Connecticut/Greater Bristol Chambers of Commerce, one of the largest of the eight Metro Chambers of Connecticut, today announced that it has hired James R. Albert of Bristol, Connecticut as its new President and Chief Executive Officer.
Central Chamber Board Chairman, Attorney Timothy Furey, stated, “After a nationwide search with multiple qualified candidates the Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce was able to find a highly qualified, highly motivated individual, right in its own backyard.”
Jim Albert stated, “I am very excited and humbled by this opportunity to support the business community and citizens of Bristol and the cities and towns within the Central Connecticut Chamber.  We are at a pivotal time of change and need to work together to grow the economic strength and future of our city and our region.  I look forward to representing the business community and working with our city and state leadership to improve our economy and quality of life.”
Jim was simultaneously awarded Officer of the Year and IT Project Manager of the Year while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Recognized more recently as elected President of the Connecticut Chapter of the Society for Information Management (SIM) and as Healthcare CIO of the Year (2011) by the New England Chapter of the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) for innovative and effective application and adoption of technology to improve organizational performance at various healthcare institutions for which he was employed.
Jim received a M.S. in technology management from the American University in Washington DC and a B.S. in risk management and insurance from the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
Jim lives in Bristol with his wife Denise and has two daughters, Andrea Albert, PhD who is a physicist employed at Stanford University and Lisa Albert, B.S. in international business who is a marketing professional for Toyota at MMB Advertising in the Boston Area.
Jim will begin work at the Chamber on January 6.




Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

December 18, 2013

Zoppo-Sassu KO'd for service on two key panels

The city's Board of Ethics told city Councilor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu this week that she cannot serve on two key city panels: the Salary Committee and the Bristol Development Authority.
Acting in response to her query about serving, the panel said it would pose a conflict of interest for her to be on the three-person Salary Committee because her husband, Peter Sassu, is a city police officer.
It ruled she could not serve on the BDA because she writes grant proposals for the Bristol Historical Society that aim to collect Community Development Block Grant money that the BDA doles out each year.
Taken together, the two decisions slice into the issues and policies Zoppo-Sassu can take a direct role in.
They also appear to mark a more heightened standard for potential conflicts than the city has had over the years. The rulings may wind up limiting the roles that other councilors can play if they or their spouses work for city government.
In recent years, at least four city councilors worked for the city themselves -- Mayra Sampson, Kevin McCauley, Tom Lavigne and Al Myers. Others have had spouses, children or other close relatives on the city payroll.
For now, the ruling simply means that Mayor Ken Cockayne will have to pick another Democratic councilor for the BDA, either Mary Fortier or Calvin Brown. But Fortier generally cannot make meetings in late afternoon so Brown is likely to get that role.
Cockayne will likely tap one of them for the Salary panel, too, though I don't think he has to pick a Democrat for that committee.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

December 17, 2013

Covanta deal on hold, meetings KO'd today

A deal between the city and Covanta to create a regional recycling center is on hold. Special City Council and Board of Finance meetings for this evening have been cancelled while officials continue to talk.
"We're still trying to come to an agreement on the contract," Mayor Ken Cockayne said.
He said he wants to make sure the terms are set before any meeting and that there's time for councilors and finance commisioners to review them beforehand.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

December 16, 2013

Bristol Republicans in driver's seat for first time ever

For the first time in the city’s history, the GOP controls both City Hall and the Board of Education.
It’s a stunning reversal for Democrats who have traditionally held power and never before been so completely shut out.
Political insiders point to a series of reasons for the shift in control that include a bitter rift in Democratic ranks and an aggressive and professional Republican effort to capture ground.
But some of them also see something potentially more profound for the long run: a change in the political attitudes of city voters, who had lined up with the unions and the Democrats for generations but may be backing away from them in search of lower taxes.
Democrat Allen Marko, who lost two City Council races, said that Bristol “for the most part does not embrace Democratic Party ideals, viewing them as too liberal.” For full story, follow this link.

Frank Kramer, an independent who ran unsuccessfully for a City Council seat, weighed in with a much fuller explanation of his view of what happened than I could include. Here it is:

1. In-fighting in the democratic party yielding a spectacularly unsuitable mayoralty candidate chosen by an acutely and politically instinct deficient DTC leadership ( and you know who  "  they is  "---and it ain't a she ). This also yielded a garbled, bland,  and diffuse message at best. 

2. The above drama unfolding in a year when the Republican message was focused ( low, low taxes and blight, blight, blight--and that's it--what else do you need to know? ) and their party unified. You also had a stronger Republican mayoralty candidate that  despite what some thought of his politics and style, they were attuned to the fact that what you saw was what you got -- to the extent you can with any politician.

3. Money. That is a dynamic little talked of when and if you get the final tallies in. Just look at the mailings  ( frequency and individual pieces ), campaign signs especially for mayor and 2nd district candidates ( just sayin' and not because it was my contest--I was amazed at how many signs Henri told me he already had and had coming while at the Rotary breakfast ) though, admittedly you had two well known candidates there with one sporting an already decent track record, imo. In addition to it being the strongest Repub. district despite the statistics. And, oh yeah, one Dem. candidate who didn't show up.

4. I think the reason the Dems did as well as they did, council-wise, was because they won against the weakest of the Republican lot. And if I recollect, Derick didn't lose by that big of a spread. And Albert might have won if he came in sooner.

5. So going forward, the Republicans with their mayor being able to engineer the agenda, it looks like : I have no idea.

One more thing. The economy and Bristol population''s struggle to keep their heads above water ( not to put to fine a point to it but we are one of but 8 towns in CT where 25%+ of us go to bed with the fear of hunger on our minds ), those who would naturally vote Democratic were too busy surviving to pay attention to the election. This struggle naturally puts politics on the back burner when you're out of work, finding money to pay the rent or save your home,  or keep the lights on. When those with the most to lose and the most to gain have the leisure and wherewithal to put politics into their forward thrusters.  



Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

December 10, 2013

Jeffries calls former Mayor Ward a traitor to Democrats

A Democratic City Council candidate who fell short on Election Day blames his party’s losses in part on two former party leaders he called “turncoats or even your typical Judas” because they failed to back Democratic candidates.
Mayor Art Ward and former city Councilor Kevin Fuller were “Republicans dressed as Democrats, fooling many voters,” said SteveJeffries, a Democrat who placed third among the four candidates in the 1st District’s City Council race.
“I can honestly say that I have never read, heard or witnessed one or even two politicians betray the party that supported them as Ward and Fuller demonstrated here in Bristol,” Jeffries said.
While Fuller, a two-term Democrat who resigned from the council last spring, endorsed Republican mayoral contender Ken Cockayne, Ward took a hands-off approach to the mayoral election. He endorsed two council candidates, Democrat Calvin Brown and Republican Rich Miecznikowski.
Jeffries said that Ward and Fuller need to “man up and come clean with all of Bristol, especially the Democratic voters.”
Jeffries said Ward should have been with Democrats on Election Night “instead of whooping it up with the Republican establishment.”
Asked for comment about Jeffries’ words, Ward, a three-term Democrat who stepped down this month, gave a one word answer: “Who?”
Fuller said he found it interesting “that Mr. Jeffries would give me that much credit that I could influence an election.”
“If I did have that power, then why did Mr. Jeffries never ever contact me prior to the election to talk to me about supporting him? Not a call, an email, nothing,” Fuller said.
Fuller, who was almost the Democratic mayoral candidate, said that “instead of trying to shift the blame of losing to someone else,” Jeffries should “look in the mirror and the only person responsible for the loss is the person you’re looking at.”
Cockayne dismissed Jeffries’ complaint as “nothing less than sour grapes.”
“Democrats in town have enjoyed Republican support over the years and you never heard Mr. Jefferies complain then,” Cockayne said.
City Republican Chairman Tom “TJ” Barnes said he found Jeffries’ comments interesting given that the Democrats this year chose Chris Wilson as their mayoral candidate, a lifelong Republican elected on the GOP line to the Board of Education in 2011 who switched parties “so he could run for mayor” as a Democrat.
He said Jeffries never voted in municipal elections before this year – he lived in another town – and never found time to support Fuller or Ward when they were on the ballot yet “when it his turn he demands they support him.”
“My experience has always been that when you lose an election, the main reason for the loss was the stuff you didn't do and not because what other people didn't do on your behalf,” Barnes said, adding that it’s time to move on to the next election cycle instead of looking back.
Brown, who won a 1st District seat, said that “name calling and this ‘us versus them’ mentality is what’s ruining city politics.”
Brown said Fuller is “a private citizen who endorsed a friend running for mayor” while Ward didn’t endorse anyone for mayor.
“Endorsements did not make, or break, this election for anybody. Period,” Brown said.
Another candidate in a council race, Frank Kramer, who was unsuccessful in his unaffiliated bid for a seat, said that given that most council winners triumphed by “statistically significant majorities, I think the Ward effect was nominal, endorsement or no endorsement.”
But, he said, in the mayoral race, Ward’s “silent, tacit” backing for Cockayne may have made a difference in the outcome.
Wilson said he has “turned the page” and doesn’t want to talk about the election.


Jeffries sent along a comment today:

I am very disappointed that after a month since the election you have decided to put this article on your blog. While I did take the liberty to express some of my thoughts while they were still fresh coming off a close election, I have certainly moved on and away from this subject.  This latest article reopens some sores that should have already healed.
While newspapers look for articles that have juicy soundbites to attract their readers, I personally feel that this recent article only hurts rather than helps.  I do take responsibility for what I shared back in early November however let me be clear, the election and results are way in my rear view mirror and I have moved on.  Please let this subject die so that those elected on both sides of the aisle can work together for the betterment of Bristol.

Here is the full statement he issued on Nov. 20th:


Politics has often been referred to as a "blood sport" where if you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen.  The election is over, the voice of the people have spoken and it's time for everyone who was elected to get to work and hopefully work together to help make this city great.  I am extremely proud of our democratic ticket that was led by Chris Wilson for Mayor, I know he would have been outstanding had he been given a chance.  The same goes for Bob Voitek who was running in the 2nd district for City Council.  Ellen Zoppo, Mary Fortier and my running mate in the 1st District, Calvin Brown will do an awesome job, of that I have no doubt, just as I have no doubt that the DTC will continue to grow and be even stronger when the next election in 2015 rolls around.
My calling out Art Ward and Kevin Fuller and labling them as turncoats or even your typical Judus is not unwaranted or unfair.  On the contrary it's totally fair and begs questions.   Let's face it, actions speak louder than words and it was crystal clear that their individual and collective actions were quite loud and quite clear.  Having followed politics very close for over thirty years and having majored in Political Science at CCSU as an undergraduate, I can honestly say that I have never read, heard or witnessed one or even two politicians betray the party that supported them as Ward and Fuller demonstrated here in Bristol.  Politicians should be judged on their character, espeically when so much is riding on the line.  Let me be clear here, I am not speaking for the DTC and not as a candidate, but as a concerned citizen who simply wants a straight up answer.  I do believe that the citizens of this city deserve an answer from both Art Ward and Kevin Fuller.  Why wasn't Ward with his party (democrats) at their headquarters the night of the returns instead of whooping it up with the Republican establishment?  Why did Kevin Fuller turn his back on the democratic party that supported him in the past and why did he come out and throw his support by endorsing the Repubican Candidate for Mayor, Ken Cockayne?  While Kevin Fuller did resign his city council seat back in May of this year, the famous saying, "Once a politician, always a politician" remains.  Deny it all you want Mr. Fuller, but you did use your influence as a former city councilman to redirect voters away from your party, your fingerprints are all over on this. 
I hope these two will man up and come clean with all of Bristol especially the democratic voters.  Based on their actions, it only looks like these two were in the end Republicans dressed as Democrats, fooling many voters! 

I wrote the piece posted above on Nov. 21. In some kind of glitch, it never ran in the paper. I was on vacation until Dec. 8 so this is about as fast as I could have posted the story.

Update: It did run in the paper on Dec. 17 here.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

November 27, 2013

So, like, is somebody supposed to clean this thing?

The clock on Main Street, which appears to be popular with birds.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

November 22, 2013

How Bristol stacks up

Here are links to a couple of new studies that rank Connecticut cities and towns:

areavibes

nerdwallet

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

November 20, 2013

Cockayne vows action on unfunded mandates

Press release from Mayor Ken Cockayne:

In an effort to get a handle on the growing number of unfunded mandates, passed on to municipalities and local taxpayers by the General Assembly, Mayor Ken Cockayne, today asked each Department Head in the City of Bristol to supply his office with any unfunded mandates that they believe hinders their ability to perform their duties. "Unfunded mandates are killing local governments as well as taxpayers," Cockayne continued, "It is time the members of the General Assembly deal with this issue and use their time in the next legislative session to offer us some relief."

In addition to unfunded mandates, the newly-elected Mayor also asked his Department Heads to provide him with a list of any state laws they felt should be reformed to allow them to perform their jobs in order to execute our responsibility to serve the citizens of Bristol."

"Over the past six years, as a member of the Bristol City Council, we have heard numerous calls for assistance regarding the impact of unfunded mandates," Cockayne added, "Now as Mayor, I am working to advance the progress on this issue, and work with the members of our local legislative delegation to try an alleviate some of these burdens."

The Mayor intends to prepare these issues into a legislative package on behalf of the people of Bristol and share them with our Representatives in Hartford, as well as the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the lobbying arm used by many local governments.  "I urge every member who serves on a board or commission in Bristol to work with their respective department head to help develop a comprehensive report to our Legislators," Cockayne concluded, "Unfunded mandate relief is a key to holding the line on taxes and I am hopeful that our legislators in Hartford will hear our concerns."


Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Jeffries: Ward, Fuller betrayal cost Democrats a win

Unsuccessful City Council candidate Steve Jeffries lashed out this week at two leading Democrats in town whom he portrays as traitors for backing the election of Republican Mayor Ken Cockayne.
It's understandable.
Steve Jeffries
Given that Cockayne won by a 52-48 margin -- close enough that a couple hundred votes going the other way would have led to Democrat Chris Wilson's victory -- it is entirely possible that a lack of party loyalty from a couple of key leaders might have made the difference.
I'm sure both former Mayor Art Ward and former City Councilor Kevin Fuller wouldn't mind a bit if their refusal to back Wilson landed Cockayne in the city's top job.
Ward never took a stand in the mayoral race, a sort of low-key endorsement for Cockayne given that it looks odd when a three-term Democratic mayor won't stand with the the party's candidate to succeed him.
Fuller, who was nearly his party's mayoral candidate, didn't pull any punches. He flat out endorsed Cockayne.
Jeffries called Fuller's endorsement of the GOP candidate a betrayal.
Jeffries comes across as particularly irked that on Election Night, Ward "was nowhere to be found with any of the Democrats."
Instead, Ward was "in full spirits with the Republican Party down at Nuchies" as they celebrated Cockayne's win. "Clearly actions speak louder than words" in Ward's case, Jeffries said.
Jeffries, who came in third in the 1st District, said there is "no mistake that both Ward and Fuler in their own way convinced many Democrats to throw their support to the Republican establishment, which altered the election results."

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

November 18, 2013

Familiar faces secure city appointments

Just remembered that I never posted these appointments made at the last City Council meeting:

Bristol Development Authority -- Mayra Sampson
Energency Conservation Committee -- David Mills
Fire Board -- Jim Albert
Fields Study Committee -- David Mills, Henri Martin
Marketing Task Force - David Mills

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

City snags $225K grant for new generator

Press release just issues by Mayor Ken Cockayne:

Mayor Ken Cockayne today announced that the City of Bristol has been awarded a $255,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace the aging and inadequate emergency generator at the Bristol Police and Court Complex.

The current emergency generator is more than 30 years old and does not power the second floor of the building, which contains the preferred location for the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The new, more efficient generator will power the entire building, including the EOC. Equipment to provide uninterrupted power – power that is available following utility failure and prior to start of the generator – will be included to ensure critical equipment is unaffected during an outage. As part of the grant requirements, the City will contribute $85,000 to complete the project.

“During natural disasters and other events that may affect power, it is critical that the Police and Court Complex, including the EOC, remain operational,” Cockayne said. “This FEMA funding will help ensure that the City’s emergency response personnel can manage emergencies safely and effectively from a central location.”  


Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

November 16, 2013

Let's hope the new Bristol logo works out better than this one from 1974


If you click on them, you can enlarge them. Be sure to read the description of the logo!

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

RIP, Susie Parker

Susie Parker, the wife of former city Councilor Terry Parker, died this morning.
Parker posted on Facebook that "Susie, my wife for 29 and a half years, pass away around 2:30 a.m.. She is at peace and without pain. She is the love of my wife and my best friend. May she rest in peace. Prayers for me and my family will be much appreciated."
Susie Parker worked in the city assessor's office for many years before her retirement last year. She had been ill for months.
Terry Parker is one of the few politicians who had the respect of everybody in the city's political world, a gentle man who made no secret of his love for his wife of nearly three decades.
He opted not to run for a council seat this year in large part because he wanted to spend every possible minute with Susie.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

November 14, 2013

Is this blog pornographic? The city thinks so

City Hall just installed some new internet blocking software -- can't trust those government workers, you know -- and it is blocking my Bristol Today blog. The software, clearly misinterpreting Mayor Ken Cockayne's name, thinks the blog is pornography.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Top finishers in City Council races

In the 1st District, Democrat Calvin Brown secured the most votes of any of the four council hopefuls. He also won all three precincts within the district.
In the 2nd District, Republican Henri Martin topped the five contenders overall and in each of the three precincts.
In the 3rd District, the top vote-getter was Democrat Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. She won two of the three precincts in the district. The other precinct, at Greene-Hills School, was carried by Republican Derek Czenczelewski.
One of the other interesting tidbits that can be gleaned from the voting results is that TJ Barnes secured more votes overall in his treasurer's race than anyone else on the ballot, easily topping GOP mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne.
What jumps out, though, is that Mary Alford, who twice sought the city's top job, actually won more votes for Board of Assessment Appeals than either of the mayoral candidates garnered. Typically, those further down the ticket trail.
Alford's 5,819 votes crushed any of the other citywide candidates except for Cockayne and Barnes. She finished well ahead of anyone else running for the assessments appeals panel or constable.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Ward expresses thanks fo chance to serve Bristol

Open letter from former Mayor Art Ward:

Well, here it is the first week of retirement from the Mayor’s Office and I still have so many people to thank.

Along those lines, I would like to thank Mayra Sampson, who did not run for election, for accepting the interim City Council position, and for fulfilling it so well.

I would like to wish Council Member Mills and his family the very best and express my gratitude on behalf of all of the citizens of Bristol for the service of both Council Members Sampson and Mills and former Council Member Kevin Fuller.

Over the past six years, we have experienced the greatest recession of our lifetime, a tornado, a blizzard, a hurricane, flooding and just about every other event that nature can throw at us.

We have been tested as a community, we have been forced to band together for the good of all. While we always wish that we could have accomplished all of our intended goals, overall, I believe that we have been successful in the majority of our endeavors
.
It has been a privilege and an honor to have had the opportunity to serve as your Mayor and I extend my gratitude to everyone who has been a part of our team. They say that adversity makes us stronger and I truly believe that we have reached the pinnacle of strength as a community.

I would like to take this opportunity to especially thank my Administrative Assistant, Mary Suchopar, who has worked for two different administrations, two different political parties and has always been steadfast and true to the office that she serves.

The Department Heads of the City of Bristol are hard-working, dedicated individuals who are always trying to do what is best for the tax payers. I thank them for their pursuit of excellence in service to our citizens.

To all the employees of the City of Bristol, I thank you for your support and admire your dedication to making Bristol the best that it can be for all who live and work in this great City.

To the incoming administration, I hope for a better economy, a unified vision for the City of Bristol and the resolution to work together to make it happen.

May you all enjoy a life of health, happiness and love of family.

Arthur J. Ward

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

November 13, 2013

One reason Cockayne won: Newspaper ads

Republican Ken Cockayne used his healthy campaign war chest to run a race that wouldn't have seemed out of place 20 years ago, or 20 years before that, or even 20 years before that.
And maybe that was part of the reason he won.
Instead of crunching numbers on a computer, he took his cash and bought a whole bunch of orange signs that wound up posted all over town.
And he bought orange pens to match his campaign color and handed them to one and all. They were actually pretty good.
And he purchased orange pencils that got handed out at the polls.
And in one of those moves that any campaign strategist would scoff at Cockayne bought a whole bunch of high-profile advertisements in the local newspaper, The Bristol Press, the very place that pays me now and again.
For eight days before the election, Cockayne had front page ads touting his race for the city's top office. For good measure, his ads were on the paper's website, too.
Now I heard beforehand that the ads were silly, a waste, reaching the wrong people in the wrong format.
But it turned out that he did something right.
Let's face it, anyone who bothers to read a local newspaper these days, especially in print, is likely to vote in a municipal election. They've already shown they care about the city in a way that non-readers, as a whole, don't.
And, yeah, they're more apt to be older if they read the print version. Older people are way more likely to show up at the polls than younger ones, if only because they have the time and the experience to recognize that elections actually matter.
So, candidates, when that newspaper ad rep comes calling, you might want to think seriously about buying some space. There's reason to think it matters.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

City Council appointments made by Mayor Cockayne

COUNCIL LIAISONS
Board of Park Commissioners Calvin Brown
Housing Authority of Bristol Richard Miecznikowski
Commission on Aging Mary Fortier
Board of Library Directors Calvin Brown
Board of Water Commissioners Eric Carlson
Bristol Community Organization ______ Mary Fortier
Board of Education Henri Martin
Commission on Disabilities Calvin Brown
Bristol Downtown Development Corp. Henri Martin
Mayor’s Task Force on AIDS_______________ _Ellen Zoppo-Sassu
Bldg. Comm. Renov. Beals Senior Comm. Center Mary Fortier

MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS  
Hoppers-Birge Pond Richard Miecznikowski
Pine Lake Area Study Committee Mary Fortier
Mayor’s Task Force on Energy Consumption Calvin Brown
Code Enforcement Ellen Zoppo-Sassu (Chair)
Fields Study Committee_____________________ Henri Martin
Fire Risk Assessment Committee______________Calvin Brown
Marketing Task Force_______________________Henri Martin
Northeast School Roof Replacement Bldg. Comm.Calvin Brown
Acting Mayor Henri Martin

COUNCIL COMMITTEES
Salary Committee Henri Martin, Richard Miecznikowski, Ellen Zoppo-Sassu
Real Estate Committee______________________ Eric Carlson, Mary Fortier, Richard Miecznikowski
Ordinance Committee Eric Carlson, Calvin Brown, Richard Miecznikowski
Building Committee Henri Martin, Calvin Brown, Ellen Zoppo-Sassu
Veterans Committee Eric Carlson
5 Year Capital Improvement Committee Henri Martin, Mary Fortier, Richard Miecznikowski
Bristol/Burlington Health District Ellen Zoppo-Sassu
School Readiness (part of Board of Ed) Henri Martin
Public Hearing & Assessment Committee Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, Henri Martin, Eric Carlson
Economic Development Committee Eric Carlson

COUNCIL MEMBERS ON BOARDS
Bristol Development Authority Henri Martin
Board of Fire Commissioners Richard Miecznikowski
Board of Police Commissioners Calvin Brown
Board of Public Works Henri Martin, Eric Carlson, Ellen Zoppo-Sassu
Retirement Board Richard Miecznikowski
Transportation Committee Mary Fortier
Youth Commission Calvin Brown
West Bristol School Building Committee_______ Richard Miecznikowski
Forestville School Building Committee_________ Mary Fortier
Renovations Committee Engine Co. #4 _________Richard Miecznikowski
Manross Library Renovations Committee_______Mary Fortier and Board of Finance member

(Appointments highlighted in yellow will be made at the December City Council meeting.)

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

November 12, 2013

Text of Mayor Ken Cockayne's Inaugural Address

As prepared for delivery on Monday, Nov. 11 at Chippens Hill Middle School in Bristol, Conn.:

Today marks the day of the year that Americans from all walks of life come together to honor the brave men and women who have served our nation in military service. 
 These soldiers have dedicated their lives to protecting the freedoms we enjoy as Americans – including the freedom to vote which we are here to celebrate tonight.
I would like every Veteran or active member of our military in the audience tonight to please sta
Mayor Cockayne prepares to deliver speech.
nd and I ask that you join me in a round of applause for their service to our nation.
Speaking of Veterans I would be remiss if I didn’t pay my respects to the man who preceded me in this job.  
Art Ward has spent the last 28 years in city government working to make our community a better place.  
We may not have always agreed on policy issues; however after serving with him for six years on the City Council I have grown to respect him as a person.
 I believe that our city owes him as well as his wife Pat; and their family a huge debt of gratitude.
Thank you - Mayor Ward for your service.

I would also like to thank Senator Jason Welch for agreeing to be the Master of Ceremonies for tonight’s festivities. 
 
Senator Welch has been an advocate for the taxpayer on the state level and along with the other members of our local legislative delegation will be working diligently together to move Bristol’s Legislative priorities forward.
One of the greatest strength’s we have in Bristol is that we put the emphasis on family and as I mentioned during the campaign I am a fourth generation Bristolite. 
My parents Bruce and Marion Cockayne instilled in my siblings and me from our early years, the importance of family, faith and community.
I would like to recognize my parents, Bruce and Marion as well as my brother and sisters, Chuck, Carrie and Cindy.
During the course of my life I have had many titles and there has been no title more rewarding than the title of Dad.
My son, Kenny Jr. is a middle school student at West Bristol. He has had to endure and bear the brunt of my political involvement over the past six years. 
Kenny is the reason I jumped into politics; because I was concerned about the future of our city and his future as well.
I have said many times that I want my son to go to college and then come home to Bristol to live, work and raise his family. 
Far too many grandparents are visiting their children and grandchildren either out of state or on Skype because they have left Bristol.
Kenny I am proud of the young man you have become. 
Last Tuesday night, the voters of Bristol gave me not only the opportunity to serve them, but gave me a new title as well: Mayor.  
I pledge to be the type of Mayor that my son and all of you can be proud of.

Speaking of titles I have another one that I wouldn’t dream of forgetting and that is FiancĂ©. 
10 years ago, I met a woman who swept me away, and after 10 years nothing has changed. 
While the wedding date hasn’t been decided… yet, I owe Brenda not only my love but my heartfelt gratitude for standing by my side during my political career.
I can’t wait until the day I call you my wife.

To the members of my administration I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to your posts in city government. 
 I recently penned an opinion piece in the newspaper thanking the people of Bristol for entrusting our city to me and I pledged to them that we will work diligently to get something done for the taxpayers of this city.
We will accomplish this as a legislative body and not as a political party.  
We are no longer Republicans or Democrats; rather we are elected officials; elected to govern and I hope that you will join me in working together for the betterment of Bristol.

The phrase “Bristol is at a crossroads” has been used in many political campaigns. 
 It seems like every two years a candidate for public office adopts this slogan.
I choose not to use such a negative slogan; instead I wanted to focus on the positive things that are happening in our community.
Downtown Revitalization is a key component to the future economic development of Bristol.  

For the past six years, I have served as a member of the Bristol Downtown Development Corporation which is charged with developing the 17 acre parcel formally known as the Bristol Centre Mall.
After much consideration, the BDDC has chosen a group called Renaissance Downtowns to lead this effort and soon will be breaking ground on phase one of the downtown project.
I share everyone’s frustration that it has taken almost nine years to see this project begin, but a lot has happened in those nine years and we are now ready to proceed with its development.
The biggest success so far with the downtown project has been the birth of an organization called: Bristol Rising. 
 I love their orange shirts.
These community volunteers embody what Bristol is all about and that is summed up in one word: Community.
They have been active over the past few years in pop-up piazzas and cash mobs all designed to promote our community and our local businesses. 
 Their active involvement in our community needs to be recognized because it has shed a positive light on Bristol and its economy.
A major component of my goal to hold the line on taxes relies not only on downtown redevelopment, but the success of our new marketing task force as well as the development of the Southeast Industrial Park.

I welcome the input of any member of my administration, as well as the public, in order to meet this goal and help increase our grand list by bringing businesses and jobs to our community.

We should be working together to promote Bristol and I extend my hand tonight to the people of Bristol who may not have supported me for Mayor and I pledge to work across party lines to get things done for Bristol

We are a community that was built on faith, family and volunteerism. 
I am asking any Bristol resident who has an interest to serve on a Board or Commission to please supply my office with your resume or summary of your background and a letter expressing; in which area you would like to serve; and I will do my best to accommodate your request.  
We are always seeking residents who would like to give back to their community and volunteer.

On the subject of volunteering, during the course of the campaign, I proposed two ordinance changes aimed at helping our elderly residents.
The first was a $500 tax credit to those residents 62 and older who volunteer in a specified entity. 
 This proposal doesn’t “force” any senior to volunteer; instead it rewards those who do.
I hope that the committee will take up the proposal as soon as they meet.
The second proposal was an Elderly Tax Freeze for residents 65 and older.  

The narrative of this tax freeze is to provide our elderly homeowners, who are struggling, that may mean they can stay in their homes.
This program will be administered by the City of Bristol and not the state of Connecticut and it would freeze their property taxes at current levels.
These two proposals have been adopted in other Connecticut communities as well as other states.
 If they can work in other communities than why can’t they work here in Bristol?
I believe that these creative ideas can work right here in Bristol
During my door to door campaign for this office, I talked with several elderly residents, some with tears in their eyes worried about what the future holds for them; if they will be able to afford to live in the same home where they raised their children.

I believe as an elected official and now as your Mayor, I have a responsibility to do everything in my power to try to give the people of our community; who made our city the great city it is - the peace of mind of knowing that we care.
I will be asking the members of the new Ordinance Committee to give these proposals consideration and I ask the members of the public who may have an idea which might make them better to come forward and offer your input.
Each proposal doesn’t have to be adopted the way I proposed them and I am open to comprise in order to make them the law of the land.

Much has been said about blight in Bristol. 
 Numbers have been thrown around and debated over the past few months.  In the end we can agree on one thing: 
“We still have work to do.”
The West End Association a group that I was active in forming; came before the City Council and presented a proposal to help revitalize the West End of Bristol.
I pledge to them that my administration will give that proposal a fair hearing and I invite any other group to do the same thing. 
 I have already asked for a meeting of our legislative delegation to discuss the re-alignment of the Route 72 intersection in the West End and how we can secure funding for this project.
I am ready to hit the ground running on this issue because it is near and dear to me and our community.  
As we discuss the West End we also need to bear in mind and keep our focus on the historic agreement that was made with other communities to preserve the Pequabuck River which has to be a vital part of our plans.
The West End Study Committee calls for bike and walking trails along the Pequabuck and I wholeheartedly support establishing them.
These issues I have mentioned are but a few we will face. The one fact that we can agree on is that there is much work to do and the time for talking has ended.  It is now time to roll up our sleeves and get to it. 
 The voters of Bristol have spoken and have elected the men and women on this stage to lead them for the next two years.
It is my hope that we will do this as individuals dedicated to the belief that we all want what is best for Bristol.
 My goal is to leave this place a better place than I found it.
I want our community to be a place where people flock to work, live and raise their families. 
 I hope that there will be more families that will soon call themselves a fourth generation Bristolite.
I am humbled by the support the voters have given me. 
 I pledge to do the best job I can as your Mayor by being honest, forthright and transparent.

As with my six years as a member of your City Council, you may not always agree with my position on an issue, however; you will always know where I stand on that issue.
Public service is a noble cause; it should not be a profession.
 I will use this opportunity to bring Bristol to new heights and I am hopeful that we, the people on stage with me tonight, 
 those of you who took the time to come here tonight 
as well as everyone that calls Bristol home 
will join me in this endeavor.
May God bless you, your family and the place we call home: The City of Bristol.
Thank you and good night.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com