November 27, 2013

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

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

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November 22, 2013

How Bristol stacks up

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



Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

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

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

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

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

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!

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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

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

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

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

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

City Council appointments made by Mayor Cockayne

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

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

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

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

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

November 6, 2013

City Council split between Democrats, Republicans

The Republican hold on the City Council slipped a bit Tuesday.
Ellen Zoppo-Sassu
Instead of holding five of the six council seats, the GOP emerged from Tuesday’s voting with three seats, two of them held by incumbents who sought reelection.
But with a Republican mayor, the GOP still has control of City Hall, if its members stick together.
Three Democrats won election to the council – Calvin Brown in the 1st District and two in the 3rd District, Mary Fortier and Ellen Zoppo-Sassu.
Mary Fortier
On the GOP side, incumbents Henri Martin and Eric Carlson won along with newcomer Rich Miecznikowski, the longtime chairman of the Board of Finance.
“We’re disappointed, yes, but we’re not down,” Martin said. “We took a hit here.”
He said the GOP councilors knew “we had targets on our backs” because they’d pushed an anti-spending agenda.
“We knew we were in the fight of our lives,” Martin said. “We surprised them two years ago. We knew they were going to come back and fight.”
One GOP incumbent, Derek Czenczelewski , fell short.
Calvin Brown
Jim Albert, a Republican who stepped into the race two months ago to fill a vacancy, said he’ll be glad to get his life back after nonstop campaigning.
Brown, 21, may be the youngest person elected to the council. He  said he worked hard in the 1st District to knock on many doors and reach out to many voters this year.
He said he is looking forward "to working with the entire new administration."
Bob Vojtek, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully in the 2nd District, told party regulars at the headquarters after the polls that he plans to take another shot at the council in 2015.
Miecznikowski said he’ll resign from the finance board when he takes office as a council member.
“Hopefully I can do you guys proud,” he told Republicans at Nuchies.
The winners take office next Monday. Details of the swearing-in ceremony haven’t been worked out yet.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 5, 2013

Some notable things delivered by voters today

1. They elected the youngest City Council member ever. Calvin Brown turned 21 in September.
2. Astonishingly, this will be the first time a City Council district has two women representing it. It may well be the first time the council has had two women serving simultaneously. Though the count may slightly off, there are only seven women who have ever made the cut.
3. Ken Cockayne will be the first Republican mayor other than William Stortz in the past three decades.
4. The constables elected today will be the last ones ever elected since voters also agreed to cease electing constables.
5. There won't be anyone on the council who has served on the council during Cockayne's first two terms as a city councilor, 2007-2011.
6. With Mayor Art Ward's departure, there won't be anyone who served as an elected official in the 20th century.
7. Ellen Zoppo-Sassu served three terms as a 2nd District councilor between 2001 and 2007 but will be representing the 3rd District this time around. Her house didn't move, but the district lines did.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Election results... by the numbers

As a loudmouth freshman city councilor, people called Republican Ken Cockayne “Mad Dog” and he loved it.
Now they’re going to call a quieter, steadier Cockayne mayor.
Cockayne defeated Democrat Chris Wilson Tuesday after a low-key race to claim the city’s top job for the next two years.
Based on unofficial results, Cockayne won by a 52-48 margin in an election that drew more than 33 percent of registered voters to the polls, the most for a municipal race since 2007.
“Bristol’s in good hands,” said outgoing Democratic Mayor Art Ward, who opted to step down after three terms. Click here for mayoral race story/
Term limits approved.

These are still unofficial results and don't include about 20 votes cast at City Hall Tuesday. But they're pretty close to what will be the final numbers.

Cockayne - 5,635
Wilson - 5,239

Barnes - 6,139
Stafford - 4,353

Council District 1
Brown - 2,304
Carlson - 2,170
Jeffries - 1,775
Hick - 1,757

Council District 2
Martin - 2,337
Miecznikowski - 2,221
Vojtek - 1,273
Marko - 1,023
Kramer - 325

Council District 3
Zoppo-Sassu - 1,630
Fortier - 1,555
Czenczelewski - 1,354
Albert - 1,335

Board of Assessment Appeals
Winners were Alford, Raymond, Salvatore

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Turnout tops 2009, 2011 with two hours to go

Voter turnout through 6 p.m. totalled 29.2 percent -- not counting about 500 absentee ballots. That's already higher than it was in 2009 or 2011.
We're probably looking at a turnout of abou 33.5 percent  unless there's a sudden surge or a drop-off.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Turnout still up with three hours to go

At 5 p.m., with three hours left before the polls close, 26.6 percent of registered voters had turned out.
That doesn't include about 500 voters who voted by absentee ballot.
It doesn't appear that the registrars' hopes of reaching 40 percent turnout will come true. It's likely to fall well short of that, but still well above the 28 percent average in the past two municipal elections.
Who's winning? Who knows? The numbers will be counted starting shortly after 8 p.m.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Registrars delivering extra ballots, predicting turnout could reach 40 percent

The city's registrars just issued this:

The Registrars of Voters announce a larger-than-anticipated turnout for today’s election.  Participation plummeted in 2009 at 8,767 voters and bounced back only slightly in 2011 with 9,347 voters voting for Mayor and City Council. 

With 60% of the voting day behind us, more than 19% of registered voters have already gone to the polls.  Voter turnout could reach 40% for today’s municipal election.  To accommodate the anticipated above-average turnout, the Registrars of Voters will be delivering additional ballots to several polling places.

The downward trend in voter turnout over the past two Mayoral elections is being reversed today.  With today’s current trend, voter participation could reach 12,000.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Halfway through, voting isn't lackluster at all

At the halfway mark for today's election, 5,571 people had voted at the polls. If a like amount come in the second half of the day, more than 11,000 will vote today, not even counting the absentee ballots.
Two years ago, only 9,347 people voted in all in the city election. Two years before that, a mere 8,767 turned out.
It's been a gorgeous day, which always helps, but it is shaping up to be a municipal race more akin to those in 2005 and 2007, when 38 and 36 percent voted, respectively. That's a lot better than the 28 percent average in 2009 and 2011.
Whether it also means a return to Democratic dominance at City Hall, though, remains to be seen.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Turnout remains high -- but who does it help? UPDATED

Mary Fortier, left, and Ellen Zoppo-Sassu,
right, pose Mary Fournier, 99
By noon, with six hours of voting done and eight more remaining, 15.5 percent of registered voters had already shown up at the polls. That compares to an 11.9 percent turnout for the municipal election two years ago that swept the GOP into power.
If the pattern holds for the rest of the day, overall turnout should be 37 percent or more -- a figure that hasn't been reached in a city-only election since 2005.
"I'm excited," said Republican mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne, standing outside Edgewood School late this morning. He said he's getting a great reception from people heading in to vote.
Voting appears especially heavy in the northern third of the city, in the 1st and 2nd council districts.
Jim Albert, right, and his father
Cockayne said that's "good for us" and likely indicates that people heard his pro-taxpayer message and are coming out to back him.
Ken Cockayne with supporters
Democratic council candidates Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and Mary Fortier, who were outside the Bristol Elks Lodge, said they are also getting good vibes from voters.
Republican council hopeful Jim Albert said he's having a good time standing outside the polls with his father and other backers.
Check back in a bit. I'm going to take a closer at the numbers and see what we can discern about patterns so far.
Updated at 1:10 p.m. -- There's no real telling until the votes are counted, but there's no doubt that much of the surge in voting interest is happening in the most Republican districts.
There are five precincts that are experiencing turnout that's higher than the city average today: Chippens Hill, Northeast Middle School, Bristol Eastern High School, Mountain View and Edgewood.
Four are seeing lower turnout: West Bristol, the Elks Lodge, South Side and Greene-Hills. The latter three make up the 3rd District, where Democrats have high hopes of securing City Council seats now held by the GOP.
Chippens Hill, which is leading the pack, is the most Republican-leaning precinct in the city. Northeast is also a GOP favorite.
But who can say what message those voters are sending? Nobody, until the results come in tonight.
Both parties are scrambling to get out their vote, recognizing that some races are bound to be close and every person's choices may ultimately be the deciding factor in who wins and who loses.

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Early turnout in Bristol is way up UPDATED

By 8 a.m., 4.8 percent of the city's voters had already cast a ballot -- 349 more than in 2011, when turnout at the same time was only 3.5 percent.
If this keeps up, overall turnout would go up from 29 percent to perhaps 38 percent for the day.
City Democrats believe if they get that big a turnout, it will be good day for their candidates.
The best turnout so far is at Chippens Hill, where 8 percent of registered voters cast their ballots before 8 a.m. Other hot spots: Bristol Eastern High School, Northeast Middle School, Edgewood and West Bristol.
The precincts where the pace is a bit slower are generally the more Democratic ones, but that may not indicate anything other than there are more commuters voting before work in the northern third of town.

Updated at 9:19 a.m. -- Turnout is still going strong.
After three hours, turnout totaled 7.2 percent of registered voters, a pace so much quicker than 2011's municipal race that it's possible the overall turnout for the day could reach 40 percent if it keeps up. That compares to 29 percent two years ago and even less in 2009 (when a flu scare probably kept some voters away).
Put another way, about 525 more voters have shown up at the polls by 9 a.m. than at the same time two years ago. That's a whopping difference.

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Rydingsward weighs in on charter issues

I finally found someone who wants to keep the utterly useless elected office of constable.
Democratic Registrar Mary Rydingsward wrote last night that the positions have a value. Here's what she said: "They serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and get paid nothing, nada, zippo. Lets have a few more volunteer available in times of turmoil, unrest, or natural disaster. And, if we eliminate the free and freely elected constables, what will replace them? - paid sheriffs? No thanks, I like my democracy."
Rydingsward also opposed the term limits referendum. She said it is "designed to take power away from the people."
"We already have term limits," she said. "They're called elections."
Rydingsward also said she thinks that term limits may violate the state constitution and asked, "Who vetted this question? Oh, must have the mayor's corporation counsel."
The city attorney, Ed Krawiecki, Jr, is the husband of Republican Registrar Sharon Krawiecki.
But Rydingsward may have a point. A year ago, a New Haven charter commission threw aside a term limits proposal because lawyers there determined it wasn't allowed in Connecticut.
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Turnout looks a bit better this year... so far

After the first hour of voting this morning, it appears people may be a little more prone to show up at the polls this year.
By 7 a.m., 2.3 percent of the city's electorate had already voted at the polls -- more than 200 people above the same time in 2011.
The Chippens Hill precinct had the highest turnout during the first hour -- at 4 percent -- but it's not clear that means anything.
In general, Democrats say they'll win if the turnout is good. Republicans, though, argue they'll do just fine no matter how many people cast a ballot.
In any case, there's still lots of time to add your choices to the tally. The polls are open until 8 p.m.
Candidates on both sides of the aisle are urging supporters to make the effort.
Democratic City Council candidate Bob Vojtek said this morning, "I did my part, I ran a good race. Now it's your turn, go out and vote!"

Update at 7:25 a.m.: There may be some confusion at some polling places.
Three of the nine polling locations are new this year, including Bristol Eastern High School.
Elizabeth Christophy let me know there was a lot of confusion at the high school this morning, in part because of "terrible signage."
Other new polling place are the Bristol Elks Lodge and West Bristol School.

Copyright 20123 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Polls are open, with no problems reported

Republicans are getting the word out this morning every way they can.
Polls opened in Bristol at 6 a.m. without a hitch. And so it begins, as candidates hit the streets, pollworkers try to get enough caffeine in them to survive until 8 p.m. and voters wonder if their favorites will win or lose.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at