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Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom to seek third term

Norwich — Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom announced Thursday he will seek a third term in the four-year position, citing the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, an effort to create a second business park and a plan to overhaul city schools as top priorities.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve,” he said to about a dozen supporters Thursday at the Pie Hops restaurant across from City Hall. “it’s something that I’ve had throughout my life at one level or another, even when I was just out of college and ended up serving on the council, right there at City Hall.”

Nystrom, 64, first was elected to the council at age 22 and then served 18 years as the 46th District state representative. After a seven-year break from politics, he returned first to the City Council and then as mayor.

The city charter that created the mayor’s position in 2001 sets a limit of two consecutive terms. But Nystrom served first from 2009 to 2013, when he lost to Democrat Deberey Hinchey, who did not seek reelection in 2017. Nystrom defeated Democrat Derell Wilson in 2017.

Wilson, current Democratic Town Committee chairman, said Thursday he will not run for mayor this year. Democratic Alderman Mark Bettencourt, also a past mayoral candidate, said he is considering a run for mayor and has discussed his possible candidacy with DTC members.

“Should that happen, I look forward to the race and hope we have a meaningful debate on the issues of the day and our visions for the city of Norwich,” Bettencourt said.

Nystrom, a retired UPS driver, said what was envisioned as a part-time position in the charter really requires full-time attention.

He said he is proud of the city's efforts to help local developers file applications and obtain permits. Several city departments meet regularly to coordinate inspections and troubleshoot problems.

Local business owner Michael Grillo, owner of M&M Landcare, spoke Thursday and praised Nystrom’s accessibility to small businesses. Grillo said his company works in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and “by far” Norwich is the easiest city in which to do business.

Nystrom listed the effort to create a second business park as critical in the coming four years. The Norwich Community Development Corp. has a purchase agreement for $3.5 million on 17 parcels comprising 348 acres of mostly former farmland in the Occum area. NPU, NCDC and the city are investigating the feasibility of the project.

“We’re still looking at a very large school project ahead,” Nystrom said, “to reorganize how many schools we operate. The goal is to have less money going into fiscal operations and to have more money going into the school itself for the learning experience for kids.”

Nystrom supports the continued COVID-19 restrictions and said it is too early to reopen city government and social gatherings fully. But he supports in-school education as “the safest place for kids to be.”

Each Friday, at the initial recommendation of Democratic state Sen. Cathy Osten, Nystrom hosts a teleconference with city leaders, human services agency officials, legislators and school officials to discuss COVID-19 statistics and the city’s response to the coronavirus.

“Everybody is working as one team, and that’s really, really important,” Nystrom said, “and I want to be part of that team, so that’s why I’m running.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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