Published September 11. 2013 11:00AM Updated September 12. 2013 12:01AM
Norwich — The morning after Deberey Hinchey secured a spot as Democratic challenger to Mayor Peter Nystrom in the city's November elections, Libertarian William Russell reminded an audience today at Holiday Inn Norwich that he offers voters a choice.
Speaking at an Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors' legislative breakfast attended by about 100 people, Russell pointed out that both Hinchey and Nystrom supported a proposed $33 million police station that voters rejected at referendum late last year.
"If we don't want our taxes going up, there's really only one choice," said Russell, the only candidate for city mayor who showed up to the event.
Nystrom sent a short note read by Realtors association President Paul K. Higgins in which he pointed out several successes during his mayoral term, including economic-development projects such as the Marina at American Wharf. Hinchey was not in attendance.
But Russell painted the city and its major-party politicians in an unfavorable light, saying taxes had doubled in the past seven years while the city's industrial park and downtown have deteriorated.
"Do we want to have a ghost town or a bustling city?" Russell asked.
Among Russell's proposals were to eliminate the city parking commission, which he said keeps people from coming downtown, and the Norwich Community Development Corp., which costs taxpayers $1 million annually and, he said, has brought few results.
Among the other speakers at the hourlong forum were Catherine Osten, a Democratic state senator in the 19th District who is running for her fourth term as first selectman of Sprague; Edward Haberek, Republican first selectman of Stonington, who is seeking his third term; Vincent Eleazer, a petitioning Democratic candidate for first selectman in Preston, and Philip Anthony, Republican candidate for first selectman in Griswold.
No town at the forum was represented by all of its candidates for top office, and some municipalities failed to field any speaker at all.