May 28, 2013

Wilson asks Democrats to back him for mayor

Here is the prepared address that Chris Wilson delivered to the Democratic Town Committee on Tuesday night:

Good evening Town Committee members and guests!  In the worst kept secret I would like to announce that I am a candidate for Mayor in the 2013 election and I ask for your support.
Chris Wilson
Bristol has been my home for over 30 years. I chose to live here. I have happily been in business and raised my family here. I have truly enjoyed the people and relationships I have developed. I have a vested interest in Bristol. I plan to stay in business. My grandchildren are growing up here. But lately I have become concerned with the way things have been going. As I became more involved, mostly through Board of Education activity, member of a charter revision  and mayoral task force on government efficiency, I saw that Bristol has so much more potential. I have learned a lot by watching the current leadership operate. I am convinced that things can improve, but the only way to change and move ahead is for someone else to step up.  Sitting back and watching politics as usual won’t improve things. The best person to lead the city would be someone whose heart is here, who has invested his life here, who has been exposed to various organizations in town, who has spent time in the public and private sectors, who is not beholden to particular loyalties, who has demonstrated leadership in a variety of ways and who has the education to blend those experiences in order to create a positive influence in Bristol. I pondered long and hard about what it would be like to be put oneself “out there” and offer to serve. So here I am, stepping up.

Over the past several months I have focused on three concerns in determining my candidacy for mayor.  First, did I have the support of my wife and extended family and was I willing to sacrifice my time with them? (Since running for mayor really becomes a family affair –

My second concern was did I have sufficient support from you the town committee, given my unusual route to be a candidate, and did I have sufficient support from the general public.  Third, could my business run without me-did I have enough support in my business so that it wouldn’t be harmed by taking on the task as mayor. The answer to all three of these concerns was yes.  Thus I am here this evening to make formal my announcement and commitment to running and getting elected as Bristol’s next mayor as the Democratic Party candidate.

I will tell you the most common reaction I have had from clients and friends is that they think I am crazy to want to get into the politics at this stage of my life. They believe the sacrifice of my personal and professional life is not worth it.   But I believe now is the perfect time and I can provide the leadership that Bristol sorely needs.

In addition, two other factors made me think twice about running for mayor; giving up my positions on the Bristol BOE and my presidency next year of the Capital Regional Education Council, or CREC as many of you know it.  I have been working in those organizations for 10 years and feel very committed to education of the students of Bristol and Connecticut.  I believe I have helped both organizations in dealing with educational reform and will greatly miss the implementation of those reforms.

Before I begin discussing the initiatives I will focus on during my campaign for Mayor, I’d like to address my switch in parties.  Many of you know I am from Massachusetts-where I spent my formative years   developing my political views.  Massachusetts is not known as a bastion of conservative ideology.  Although I was a Republican, I always viewed myself as a moderate: high on social activism while fiscally conservative.  Much like many of you!  As the Republican Party drifted to the far right, I have not drifted with it.  Those of you who know me well know that I have been a little out of step with the party for some time.  I am about solving problems:  something the Republican Party seems in short supply of these days.

When people ask me why I want to be Mayor several thoughts come to mind:
     First, I want to change the culture in city hall.  I want more civility and professionally run meetings.  I want thoughtful discussion and reasoned responses.  Too much time is spent on bickering and being partisan.  I will work with anyone who wants to make Bristol a better community to work, raise a family and live.
     Secondly, I want to engage the public in a larger and deeper manner.  We must allow, encourage and nurture those who are younger, more diverse and female to become involved in city government instead of letting a few people make all the decisions.  The demographics of Bristol are shifting: we need an inclusive government that represents the entire city.
     Third: We need more focus by the City Council on public policy and legislative issues and less on operational issues.  We have professional staff and managers who can and should be allowed to carry out their responsibilities of administering city business.  We must empower them and hold them responsible. Our elected officials should not drift into micromanaging routine operational issues.  I intend to set an agenda that will keep us focused on policy and legislative issues.
      Jobs: We must create an environment whereby entrepreneurs and developers want to invest in Bristol and create jobs.  We must streamline the permitting process with land use boards and must become more public friendly. Growth of the grand list is critical for the growth of Bristol.  Entrepreneurs and investors have choices to make about where they will invest their resources.  We must make Bristol one of their first options.
     Education: We must support and finance a first class 21st century education system in Bristol.  Education is a critical quality of life issue as well as an economic issue.  If we want new citizens to invest in our community by buying the existing housing stock or building new homes, we must provide the quality of life  that competing towns offer such as quality education, including all-day kindergarten.
     Quality of Life issues also include a robust, clean and safe park system and numerous activities for the youth of our city including athletics and arts.
     Safety and security issues are a major concern of residents in Bristol.  I plan to make sure we have a strong and active public safety infrastructure in Bristol.
     Additionally, I will support the allocation of resources for code enforcement and the remediation of blighted properties in Bristol.
     All of these initiatives will be implemented with the clear understanding that Bristol has limited fiscal resources.  I intend to rely on my experiences in public service, my own educational experience (a graduate degree from Barney School of Business at the University of Hartford) and my experience leading many organizations in Bristol and elsewhere. These include Bristol Rotary, the Board of Education, McCabe Waters Little League, Professional Insurance Agents of CT, Trustee of New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church as well as serving on the boards of the Bristol Day Care Center, The Family Center for Boys and Girls, United Way, Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce.  I haven’t just talked about leadership; I have worked hard to provide it.

The challenges facing Bristol are significant. But if we all work together we can make Bristol a better place to live, work and raise our families.  I believe our best days are ahead of us.  We must embrace this new vision so that we as a city can be successful.  I plan to work very hard campaigning, attending meet and greet sessions and  walking door to door and supporting my fellow Democratic candidates so that we can provide a unified team that the voters will be energized to vote for.  My experience, public service record and commitment to Bristol are what I will hold up to the people of Bristol and ask them to support; a record of leadership, a record of engagement, a record of making Bristol a better place to live, work and raise your families.  I appreciate your help and support.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

1 comment:

Laura said...

I'm sorry I couldn't be at the Democratic Town Committee meeting tonight but I am excited that there is going to be new energy and positivity with Chris Wilson and Mary Fortier both announcing their intentions.