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Norwich Republicans endorse full slate for Nov. 2 election

Norwich — City Republicans on Wednesday night endorsed a full slate of candidates for the Nov. 2 election, including six candidates for City Council and six for Board of Education, in addition to backing Mayor Peter Nystrom for reelection.

Nystrom cited economic development projects underway and in planning stages, and he and others urged voters to support Republicans in the fall to bring city and school budgets and taxes in check. Several candidates voiced support for creating a city community center, either at a central location or in schools.

“As a mayor, I always try to keep taxpayers first in mind,” Nystrom said. “I always try to promote the city.”

He listed the $3 million, 10-year downtown revitalization bond he created in 2010 and the push for Norwich to apply and secure three Opportunity Zones to attract private investment in city neighborhoods as major accomplishments. City officials plan to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to renew the revitalization program.

The City Council slate features incumbent Alderwoman Stacy Gould seeking her fourth term, repeat council candidates Robert Bell and John Blackburn and newcomers Michael Grillo, Mark Adams and Grant Neuendorf. No more than five council members from one political party can be elected, including the mayor, who runs separately and is a voting member.

No more than six of the nine Board of Education members can be from one political party. The Republican Town Committee endorsed incumbent school board member Christine DiStasio and Aaron “Al” Daniels, as well as newcomers Josh Chapman, Heather Fowler, Guada Benoit and Robert Dempsky.

The RTC also unanimously endorsed incumbent City Treasurer Michael Gualtieri.

Council candidate Grillo said he decided to run after he got his property tax bill recently. He owns a grounds maintenance service for large commercial properties. “I think that there’s a lot of things the city of Norwich can do, has a lot of potential to do,” he said. “It’s going to require a certain amount of action, the ability to stay on point and focus on a point and work in that direction.”

First-term incumbent school board member DiStasio said she enjoys her role as a member of the School Building Committee working on the major effort underway to consolidate and renovate the city’s schools. She said the idea of placing community centers in the renovated schools is being discussed.

New school board candidate Fowler, a mother of five children ranging in age from 6 to 19, said she believes city schools have “deteriorated” and she decided to keep her kindergartner home this year.

“I’m tired of my 13-year-old running home and asking why the word ‘patriotic’ is a bad word,” Fowler said. “So, I want our kids to remember what our great country is about and to learn ... If you want something good, you have to work hard for it.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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