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Norwich Democrats endorse mayor candidate and full slates for council, school board

Norwich — City Democrats unanimously endorsed slates of six candidates each for City Council and Board of Education on Thursday, as well as mayoral candidate Mark Bettencourt for the Nov. 2 election.

Rather than nominating individuals, the Democratic Town Committee chose to nominate slates of candidates in one vote, adding one council candidate after the slate was announced. Council candidates will run under the banner, “Responsible Leadership for Norwich, 2021,” and the school board candidates as the “Our Children, Our Future, 2021” slate.

Bettencourt said the major part of the Norwich mayor’s job is economic development. He said incumbent Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom, endorsed by his party Wednesday night, has focused on “big box projects.” Bettencourt said that type of development is needed in Norwich, including plans for a second business park in Occum. But he said the city really needs an investment and focus on neighborhoods to attack blight and improve residents’ lives.

“That’s going to take some investment in people and purpose,” Bettencourt said. “The improvement of neighborhoods, one by one, properties and making Norwich a better place to live. Another aspect of it is education.”

Bettencourt praised the current Board of Education and administration, saying it has been a pleasure to work with them through the City Council-Board of Education Ad Hoc Committee that discusses budgets. Bettencourt emphasized the upcoming work on a proposed major school consolidation and renovation plan. Bettencourt chairs the School Building Committee.

“If we want to create a community that’s good to live in, to work in and to play in,” Bettencourt said, “then we need a place where people and families will want to come and live and be part of that community, go to school here and thrive here.”

For the council slate, the town committee endorsed incumbent Aldermen Joseph DeLucia, Ella Myles and Derell Wilson, along with current school board member Swaranjit Singh Khalsa and newcomers Lawrence Lizotte and Tracey Burto. Lizotte and Burto both work as security managers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

For school board, incumbents Kevin Saythany, Carline Charmelus and Mark Kulos were joined by former school board member Robert Aldi and newcomers Bennett Nocera and Greg Perry, son of the Rev. Gregory Perry.

The town committee asked one representative from each slate to address the gathering.

Nocera, a special education teacher at the Integrated Day Charter School, where Wilson and Perry also work, recounted how he overcame a hearing impairment. He credited his parents and teachers for helping him learn to read and speak. He expressed his enthusiasm for both the slate of candidates and the teachers, parents and students in the city school system.

DeLucia spoke for the council slate and cited accomplishments of the current council’s 4-3 Democratic majority, including establishment of the council-school board ad hoc committee that addresses budget issues.

“This is the party that’s bringing transparency to city government,” DeLucia said, “and this is the party that leads through inclusion and diversity.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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