Norwich Dems endorse Jaskiewicz for mayor

Norwich — Democrats on Monday narrowly endorsed Charles Jaskiewicz 35 to 34 over fellow Alderwoman Deberey Hinchey, but the mayoral race is headed to a Sept. 10 primary.

“Absolutely,” Hinchey said of a primary challenge minutes after the vote was announced. She said she already has been campaigning door-to-door.

Jaskiewicz said he expected a close vote coming into the caucus and said it was “too close to call.” He, too, has been canvassing neighborhoods in preparation for a primary. Jaskiewicz expected the primary challenge and called the caucus the first of a three-phase election process — caucus, primary and the Nov. 5 election.

Both candidates have been campaigning since winter, after Hinchey announced in December she would seek the nomination and Jaskiewicz followed in January. Both started fundraising early in preparation for a primary, with Hinchey’s treasury topping $23,000 and Jaskiewicz $10,000.

Jaskiewicz, 55, touted a broad range of achievements during his nine years in politics that included eight years on the Board of Education, one term on the City Council and two years on the state Board of Education.

Jaskiewicz left the Board of Education in 2011 when he was appointed to the state Board of Education. He ran successfully for City Council that year. He also has been active in fundraisers for United Way.

Jaskiewicz, a regulatory manager at Pfizer Inc., said he would keep his Pfizer position, but would set aside all other civic positions — including volunteer work at United Way and his position on the state school board — if elected mayor. He said Pfizer allows time for community service.

Two-term Alderwoman Hinchey, 60, a clinical social worker for VNA-East in Mansfield, said she would leave her job and make the mayoral position her full-time job.

In a surprise move, the town committee endorsed only four candidates for City Council, incumbents Francois, “Pete” Desaulniers and Mark Bettencourt and newcomers Terell Wilson and Marissa Way, granddaughter of former Alderman Walter Way.

Wilson, 21, former president of the statewide chapter of the NAACP Youth Council, called himself “a product of Norwich” and said he would support the city school system and improved communication among city leaders.

Wilson then suddenly asked the 69 people in the audience to stand and hold hands, saying not only are their fellow town committee members political colleagues and friends, but “they are all Norwich.”

Way, 23, said she was surprised to be nominated, but said she grew up in politics and is a “determined person” and likes to “jump into things.”

By state law, no more than five members of one party can serve on the City Council, including the mayor who has a vote on the council. The town committee usually endorses five candidates, some years six candidates. The Republican Town Committee last week endorsed five candidates, and five Libertarians have petitioned onto the ballot.

Six incumbent Democrats were endorsed for Board of Education: current chairwoman Yvette Jacaruso, longest-serving, 18-year member John LeVangie, Jesshua Ballaro, Robert Aldi, Joyce Werden and Cora Lee Boulware.

The Republican Town Committee last week endorsed the party’s three incumbents, setting up a thus-far uncontested election for all nine school board members. Petitioning candidates have until Aug. 7 to file petitions to be placed on the ballot.

The town committee also unanimously endorsed 3 1/2-term incumbent Brian Curtin for city treasurer.

c.bessette@theday.com

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