Norwich — Democratic Alderwoman Deberey Hinchey hopes to make history next fall by being elected the first female mayor in the city.
She might have broken ground already Tuesday with her official announcement as a mayoral candidate, as longtime local political activists and local historians could not recall any female mayoral candidate in city history.
“It was pretty much a male preserve,” city Historian Dale Plummer said of early 20th century mayoral races.
During the years when Norwich did not have a mayor, however, Bonnie Hong won the top elected spot as City Council president.
Hinchey, 60, a clinical social worker for VNA-East in Mansfield, said Tuesday she would leave her full-time job if she wins the mayoral seat next November, saying the city needs a mayor who is available during the day.
Current Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom has not yet announced whether he will run for a second term, but he has said he is leaning toward seeking re-election. Nystrom works for United Parcel Service.
Hinchey said she would work to better coordinate city agencies to work for economic development. Hinchey said currently, 53 percent of the city’s tax base is from property taxes. During the recent unsuccessful campaign to build a $33 million police station, Hinchey said many residents she talked to supported the project, as she did, but decided they just couldn’t afford another tax burden.
She said it shouldn’t be a difficult job to market the city of Norwich to businesses, given assets such as Norwich Free Academy, Mohegan Park, the waterfront, the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium and the financially struggling Norwich Municipal Ice Rink that she worked to save last spring.
“I have great faith that we in Norwich are on the cusp of great change,” Hinchey said.
Hinchey made her announcement in a crowded conference room at her husband Lloyd Hinchey’s law office at 120 Broadway with about 15 family members, friends, supporters and party leaders.
Democratic Town Committee Chairman Frank Manfredi and fellow Alderman Francois “Pete” Desaulniers, council president pro tempore, attended, along with other town committee members.
Manfredi said no other Democrats have contacted the town committee to express interest.
“I wanted to get behind Deb early and let people know she is the best candidate for the city,” Manfredi said.
The party nominating convention will be held in May.
Several supporters said they worked with Hinchey in recent years on political campaigns and other issues. Hinchey referred to herself and Desaulniers as “a duo” who worked together to try to rescue the ice rink and on other projects.
“The charter says the mayor is the official representative of the city, and that’s what I intend to be,” Hinchey said.