Familiar names vying for Norwich City Council seat
Norwich ― The May 24 special election to fill a vacant City Council seat will feature two long-time active members of the community and will determine party control of the council on the eve of major budget votes.
Republican former Alderman William Nash, 60, and Democrat Shiela Hayes, 64, were endorsed unanimously by their respect town committees Thursday. They will face off in the May 24 special election to fill the council seat vacated by new Democratic 46th District state Rep. Derell Wilson.
Wilson’s departure leaves the politically divisive council with three Democrats and three Republicans, including Republican Mayor Peter Nystrom. Both candidates downplayed the party control issue, stressing their records of service and desire to continue to serve.
“I don’ view it that way,” Hayes said of the election deciding party control of the council. “I have worked with several of the council members in very different areas. I work with people.
Hayes said the focus of the work is, “What is the issue and how can we get it done.”
Nash, who served 12 years on the City Council previously, said he has always voted based on issues not party affiliation and has worked with people on the council and with the public based on issues.
“I served six terms, I think I served well,” Nash said. “The ugliness will not come from me. I do not want to run an ugly campaign.”
Nash is a former Norwich police officer, a youth, high school and college football coach and has been active in local politics for the past 16 years. He currently is director of operations at M & M Group, a commercial property maintenance business in the Norwich Business Park.
Hayes has been active in the Norwich NAACP for decades, serving twice as president. She finished a three-year term as president in January and is co-advisor to the branch’s youth council. She currently serves on the city School Building Committee working on the $385 million school construction project and is on the new Norwich Health Equity Committee. Hayes is Democratic Town Committee secretary.
In her role as NAACP youth advisor, Hayes for years has helped organize candidate forums prior to elections. She said she will step away from that role for the special election.
Both candidates faced no opposition at the town committee endorsement meetings Thursday, although Democratic Council President Pro-Tempore Joseph DeLucia told the DTC the candidate vetting committee interviewed five “highly qualified” individuals interested in running.
Democrats and Republicans interested in forcing a primary would need to file petitions by 4 p.m. Feb. 23 to force a March 29 primary. Democratic candidates would need 23 signatures of registered Norwich Democrats, while Republican primary seekers would need 12 signatures of registered Republicans, representing 1% of the votes cast in the 2021 municipal election for the respective parties, Democratic Registrar of Voters Dianne Daniels said.
Anyone interested in running as an unaffiliated or third-party candidate in the May 24 election would need to submit petitions with 50 signatures of registered Norwich voters by 4 p.m. Feb. 23.