Groton City Council, clerk races are uncontested in Monday's election
Groton — While Town Councilor Aundré Bumgardner, the Democratic nominee, and Mayor Keith Hedrick, a Democrat and incumbent who is running as a write-in candidate, are vying to be the city’s mayor for the next term, the races for City Council and city clerk are uncontested in the city’s general election on Monday, May 3.
The Democratic slate features mostly incumbents for City Council and a new city clerk, as City Clerk Debra Patrick is slated to retire after more than two decades of service. The City of Groton Republican Committee did not endorse a slate of candidates, citing concerns over "a hostile and threatening environment" for GOP candidates.
Deputy Mayor Gweneviere Depot, 36, who is self-employed, joined the council in December 2017. Depot, who also serves on the Police and Community Together Committee, said she wants to continue outreach to the community and help get the community involved in making decisions. She also said she plans to continue work to ensure employees are safe and happy, which she said benefits taxpayers, as well.
As chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, she said she is focused on maintaining services and is looking forward to a smooth transition, as City Police Chief Michael Spellman, who she said did a great job implementing programs for autism awareness and connecting the department to the state radio system, retires.
Rashaad Carter, 39, a state trooper and licensed clinical social worker, is running for a third term. Carter said he wants to continue to work on economic development on Thames Street and capitalize on the initiatives the city has started. With Pfizer and Electric Boat in the city, people pass through the area every day, and his goal is to get people to spend more time in the area.
With community engagement difficult during the pandemic, he said he’s looking forward to jump-starting that engagement again, as more things hopefully reopen this summer.
“I just want the residents to know we’re still here and we're still here for their needs,” he said.
Lisa McCabe, 56, a supervisor in the IT department at Electric Boat who is running for her second term on the council and previously served on the Groton Representative Town Meeting, said she is interested in economic development and growth in the city, with the key focus areas of Thames Street and the Five Corners area.
McCabe said she is working with the city’s Economic Development Specialist Cierra Patrick on investigating safe pedestrian paths and bikeways in the city and is passionate about helping people to be able to safely walk and bike around the city.
McCabe said she also thinks the issue of short-term rentals is important for the city to tackle.
Paul Norris, 57, is a parks and recreation director for a local municipality and an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University. He is running for his first full term and recently was sworn in to the council to fill the remainder of the term vacated as former City Councilor Reginald Stanford became a police officer for the city police department.
He said his top priorities are to keep taxes as reasonable as possible and place a greater emphasis on economic development.
Norris, who has experience working for a local municipality, said he also wants to help be a conduit between city residents and city government and bring forth their ideas and concerns.
Christine Piazza, 60, who will be new to the council, said she has been a registered nurse for over 30 years in the civilian and military arena. She served 23 years in the Army Reserve and her government experience is through the military, as an officer/registered nurse, safety officer and in charge of an intensive care unit, including the budget, logistics and operations. She is a Groton school bus driver and is on the safety committee there. Her volunteer experience has been in missions, ministry, assisting in her children's schools on different committees and as an organ/tissue donor speaker.
She said she presently sees the council's top three priorities as "creating more opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy Groton City as in job opportunities, supporting present activities and create more activities within the city for all ages. Lastly, to engage our community in being involved in any of the committees Groton City has to support the vitality of the city."
Stephen Sheffield, 58, senior clerk in the state’s attorney’s office in New London who also works a second job as assistant cash department head at Stop & Shop, previously served three terms on the council and then recently returned to fill the remaining six months of the term of former Deputy Mayor Jamal Beckford, who moved to another district in Groton.
Sheffield, who chairs the council’s Economic Development Committee, said he is excited, with the pandemic hopefully winding down, to get back to the economic development the city has been planning for years.
He said he wants to ensure all residents have access to a COVID-19 vaccine and to continue financial responsibility in the city.
Megan Peters, 37, who has worked in the casino industry for the last 15 years, most recently as the corporate partnerships activation manager at Mohegan Sun, is running for city clerk. She said she is looking forward to giving back to the community where she is raising her two young children.
“My top priority is serving Groton City so I look forward to really be in the role and meet the community and do the job of course to the best of my abilities,” she said. “I’m just very excited.”
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