Republican Nystrom takes Norwich mayoral seat with apparent Republican council majority
Norwich — Former Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom will return to that seat in December following his victory in Tuesday’s five-way race for mayor, and preliminary numbers show he will have a 4-3 Republican majority on the City Council.
With 2,499 votes, Nystrom defeated Democrat Derell Wilson, 1,894 votes, as well as Libertarian William Russell and petitioning candidates Jon Oldfield and Joseph Radecki Jr. in the race that featured several candidate debates and forums.
"I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to return to office," Nystrom said. "I am so grateful for the amount of support that came from every part of the city."
Throughout the campaign, the four other candidates all pledged to devote full-time hours to the mayor's position, while Nystrom works full time as a UPS driver. However, Nystrom announced on Friday that he plans to retire from UPS in mid-May and he, too, said he would be full time in the mayor's position as head of the city's economic development effort.
Wilson, 25, said he was not at all upset by his defeat Tuesday and "definitely" will run for mayor in four years. He said he will consider running for City Council in two years.
"I'm proud of what I was able to do in the city with this election," Wilson said. "For me, being a first-time candidate, I put out my strong message. This won't be the first and last time I'll be running for election in Norwich."
Preliminary numbers, without the same-day registration ballots and 200 absentee ballots, showed that Nystrom will be joined on the seven-member City Council by Republican incumbents William Nash, Stacy Gould and Joanne Philbrick and Democrats Stephanie Burnham, Joseph DeLucia and Samuel Browning. However, Philbrick, with 2,240 votes, led Democrat Zato Kadambaya by only 105 votes.
Incumbent first-term Republican treasurer Michael Gualtieri easily defeated Democratic challenger Patrice David, 2,701 to 2,087.
Nystrom and Oldfield sparred the most during the campaign, with Nystrom publicly correcting erroneous statements by Oldfield during debates and also filing an election complaint against Oldfield for allegedly using his public access TV show to campaign without required political disclaimers or “paid for” tags. Oldfield countered that the complaint was bogus and baseless and a dirty political trick, since it couldn’t be resolved until well after the election.
But talk about taxes and city spending dominated the campaign. Republicans repeatedly touted their record as the council majority party in cutting the citywide property tax rate this year for the first time in 10 years. Democrats countered that the Republicans’ claim of $5.1 million in savings and a 3.2-mill cut is exaggerated, because the budget still had a spending increase and much of the cut was shifted into referendum questions for firetrucks and roadwork on Tuesday’s ballot.
Libertarian Russell campaigned hard and remained confident throughout the campaign, claiming he knocked on "over 5,000 doors" throughout the city. But he and the six Libertarian council candidates, Nicholas Casiano, Stacylynn Cottle, James Fear, Justin Massaro, Janice Loomis and Richard Bright, failed to win seats on the council.
"If they elect Democrats and Republicans, the city is dead," Russell said shortly before the polls closed Tuesday.
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