Republican candidate for New London council pulls out of race

New London — A Republican candidate for City Council has pulled out of the race, saying he never intended to pursue a seat but was holding a place on the slate for a candidate yet to be determined.

Gordon Videll, whose law office is representing the police union president in a suit against the city, was one of seven people nominated by the Republican Town Committee last week. A column last week by The Day’s David Collins, questioning Videll’s candidacy, reinforced his decision to withdraw, Videll said Tuesday.

Bill Vogel, chairman of the Republican Town Committee, said Videll was a legitimate candidate. The two had been talking about Videll running for City Council months before last week’s Republican caucus.

“Gordon came over and interviewed with the nominating committee,’’ Vogel said. “My intention was never to have him as placeholder.”

Vogel, who is also a candidate for council, said members of the town committee volunteer to hold a place on the ticket. Videll is not a member of the Republican Town Committee, and Vogel said he would not have put Videll’s name up for consideration as a temporary fill-in.

“I’m really sad to lose Gordon as a candidate. He’s well-informed. He’s knowledgeable. He’s active,’’ Vogel said.

He added that Videll would have been a good councilor because he has questioned some ideas and policies of Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, a Democrat.

“Gordon would have been very good. It’s a big loss to us,’’ Vogel said.

Videll’s resignation leaves an opening on the GOP ticket, which could be filled by Martin T. Olsen, a former three-term councilor and ceremonial mayor, Vogel said. Olsen fell out of favor with the Republican party when he became ceremonial mayor in 2010 with the help of Democrats. He also was a petitioning candidate for mayor in 2011, challenging the Republican-endorsed candidate Rob Pero.

Olsen was not nominated by the Republicans last week but has been gathering signatures to force a primary. He needs 66 signatures of registered Republicans to primary.

“I don’t know what this does for me,’’ Olsen said Tuesday when told of Videll’s decision to drop out. “I’m still pursuing my petition. I have no idea what the party is going to do.”

As of Tuesday, Olsen had obtained 93 signatures but said he would not turn in his petition until he reached 100.

Vogel said the vacancy committee — which is made up of himself, Pero, Adam Sprecace and Michael Doyle — is expected to meet on Saturday to determine what to do next. If no one is selected to fill Videll’s spot, Olsen would become part of the GOP slate, Vogel said.

Videll, who did not attend last week’s caucus, maintained that he put his name up for nomination to give the party time to “get good people to run.” But when he read the opinion piece in The Day, which suggested Videll could have a conflict of interest since his two-person law firm is handling the lawsuit against the city, he pulled out of the race.

The column also “gave the impression I had some disciplinary action that prohibited me from practicing,” he said.

“The recent article written by David Collins is the reason good people don’t run for office,’’ Videll said. “At this point in time, I don’t think it would be in the best interest of my family or my business to continue.’’

Collins wrote, among other things, that Videll had his law license suspended for 2½ months in 2011 for failure to pay a $110 down payment required of all lawyers for a fund that reimburses victims of theft and misconduct by their lawyers. Videll said he received an administrative suspension after the fee was overlooked and never received a punitive suspension.

“I’ve never been suspended from practicing,’’ he said.

A representative at the Connecticut Judicial Department said with an administrative suspension, an attorney is “not allowed to practice law.”

Videll maintains that Collins went out of his way to attack his character because Videll criticized some of Collins’ work on a radio talk show.

“Good people, qualified people, don’t want to be the subject of personal attacks that have nothing to do with their political views,’’ he said.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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