July. 29. Groton – The Democrats, who control city council, have announced a council slate that does not include incumbent Portia Bordelon, even though she has received approvals from the Board of Education and a city meeting representative.
Republicans have rolled out a list of both newcomers and people who have lengthy been involved in the city’s politics, vying to re-establish bipartisan rule in the city council, which has been fully democratic in the former two elections.
On Wednesday, Democrats announced a list of incumbent council members Juliette Parker, the administrative assistant to Groton City Police Chief. Rachel Franco, Business Director, Norwich Family Dental Associates; Juan Melendez, who has also worked for RTM and the Water Pollution Control Authority; Aundré Bumgardner, city planning and zoning commission member and previous state representative; and Democratic City Committee Chairman Konrad Heidi.
For the board, Democrats also endorsed newcomer David McBride, a New London chief financial officer and previous director of Thames Innovation Place, and RTM members Edward ‘Eddy’ Jacomy, who recently worked for the Connecticut General Assembly as an assistant writer for veterans. Affairs Commission Melinda Cassiri, who has a background in law enforcement and volunteer firefighting; and Bruce Jones, a retired little business owner of a graphic design company, author, and product developer.
Mayor Patrice Granatowski and councilors Leanne Aubry and Joe Zibery are not running for re-election.
In the council’s list submitted Tuesday to the city’s clerk, Republicans endorsed: Bill Forgison, a retired teacher who works for a nonprofit and serves on the Historic District Committee; Scott Westervelt, an engineer who is the co-chair of the Mystic Oral School Advocates, a group that opposes the proposed development of the Oral School site; RTM member Kathy Chase, who has been heavily involved in local politics; John Scott, chairman of the Republican City Committee, said Emma Junipero, a unused architect at Groton Politics.
For the council, they further endorsed Diane Barber, a previous chancellor who has lengthy been involved in local politics; Scott, also a previous state representative and previous municipal councillor; Jane White, who works for a defense contractor’s financial group and served on the Charter Review Committee; Robert Burris, who owns a business in the city and recently moved to the area and wants to get involved; Bonnie Nolte, a realtor and previous member of the city council, Scott said.
“We are excited to have a pleasing team of people who are going to work together for the benefit of the city,” Scott said on Wednesday. “We as a party are very disturbed by the imbalance we are seeing with the present council, which is all one-sided ruling. I think it is time for some change in Groton’s government: better management, and better control of this unusually big, unwanted project in Old Mystic School, Mystic Oral. I think it’s a pleasing idea to have two parties for better conversation and better management of the city.”
More than 20 people, including members of the Mystic Oral School’s attorneys as well as people who have expressed support for Bordeaux, carried signs for her final week in fore of the Groton Senior Center ahead of a DTC endorsement meeting.
Resident Mary Ellen Furlong noted that Bordlon asks smart questions and said she appears to be treated differently than other council members, while Ken Meyer, who spoke in opposition to the proposed development at Mystic Oral School, said he came out to support Bordlawn and is against the proposed development. He said she was ready to challenge the status quo, her party members and fellow councillors.
“She was willing to listen,” Meyer said. “She asks the firm questions.”
Heede, president of DTC, said in a statement on Wednesday that “this board has been very effective in many ways, and accomplished (much) over the former two years, but the former year has also been stressful for all of us. Under average circumstances, politics is chaotic, emotional, and even firm.” between friends and family.
He said many Democratic city committee members voted for Bordelaine final week, and that’s not enough to triumph the council’s endorsement.
“I think she’s a pleasing council member and I know she’s disappointed with the outcome, but given the endorsement results across the state, there are many cases where incumbents have not been certified,” Headey said in the statement. “This is not unique to Groton. I am happy to say she was nominated for BOE and got endorsement for her. I know she was already a powerful support for our students and would be a positive addition to the BOE team. She was also nominated for RTM where she started.”
He added, “I won’t talk about how the other 62 people voted, but I can say that I believe our job as a DTC is to nominate a list that can work together effectively even when they disagree, sometimes enthusiastically.” “Our list is diverse: racially, ethnically, and by age and gender, opinions and experiences, and they represent every area of the city. We are very elated of that diversity. They disagree on many things, often with enthusiasm, just because the people of Groton do not forever agree.”
Heede also said it had nothing to do with the Mystic Oral School property and noted that there was “no project” and that the developer had not submitted an application to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The DTC meeting was the “final nail in the casket” that prompted DTC Secretary Dane Stevenson, who also said he leans more to the left than the party, to make the decision to resign from the committee, in solidarity with Bordelon.
“While I am disappointed with the outcome of the committee vote and frustrated with the process of how it came to be, I am pleased to receive the committee’s nomination for BOE and RTM,” Bordelon said in a statement on Wednesday. “While running for city council is the number one favorite, I am excited about the opportunity to persevere serving the Groton community in any capacity and will persevere to explore other options for doing so. I also want to thank everyone in the Democratic Party and the community at big who have given me their support.”
“I believe it is significant for elected representatives to live up to their duties through lobbying, active debate and the courage to ask critical questions,” she added. “No matter what position I may be nominated for or elected to serve, I will persevere to use these qualities for the betterment of Groton Town.”
For the Board of Education, Democrats supported Bordelon; RTM member Michael Whitney; Beverly Washington and Katrina Fitzgerald, two RTM members who previously served on the school board; and Matthew Shulman, a newcomer to Groton politics, according to the Democrats’ press release on Wednesday.
Headey said Board of Education members Lee White, Rosemary Robertson and Jane Jolini decided not to run for re-election, but continued to support the board and students.
Democrats have endorsed the position of town clerk Betsy McCussher.
For the RTM, Democrats endorsed Joe Burrell, Roscoe Merritt, Shelia Berry and Adam Puccino for District 1; Sima Eben, Jacomi, and Washington District 2; Bordelon, Autumn Hanscom, Jill Rusk, and Ian Thomas for District 3; Sue Heinlein, Kristen Powers, Sean Powers, Jamie Fizzy Williams and Aubrey for District 4; Cassier, Gary Wells, Whitney and Matt Ivey for District 5; Richard Simraro, Fitzgerald, James Gustafson, Al Fritsch for District 6; Clarence Casper, Bruce Jones, Emily Ray and Jacqui Cobb for District 7.
Granatowski, the town’s mayor and council member since 2017, said it was an honor to serve the town.
“The former year has been challenging for all of us,” she said in a statement. “You know, I’m a teacher, and the students and teachers have had a particularly challenging year. Add in my role as Chancellor and Mayor, and I find my board very packed. I need to step back a bit. Thank you to the Groton folks for the opportunity to serve. We have a marvelous community and have done my best to honor The trust you instilled in me.”
Aubrey said her work is taking a lengthy time, but she wants to preserve participating because she cares about Groton, so instead she’s running for RTM. I’ve worked at RTM prior and thought that one meeting a month, as opposed to four or five on the board, might work better at this point in her life.
Zeppieri said he’s made his contribution to his community for four years but has to back out due to other commitments.
For the Board of Education, Republicans supported Andrea Ackerman, a longtime board member and retired teacher; Dean Antipas, board member, attorney, and previous city council member; Scott said newcomers are Thomas Frickman, a teacher, and Dan Hetzel, an engineer and RTC member.
Scott said Republicans have supported appointing Bruce McDermott as town clerk, but he is serving as vice president and the committee is interviewing another candidate.
For RTM, the committee endorsed Karin Adams and Chase in District 1; Harry A. Watson and Robert Boris in District 2; Robert Bailey in District 4; Susan Dean Seinbrot and Scott in District 5; Barber, Frickman, Antipas and Janipero in Zone 6; Lynne Crockett Hubbard is in District 7.