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Passero secures Democratic party nomination for mayor

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New London — Democratic City Councilor Michael Passero easily secured his party’s nomination as a mayoral candidate Tuesday over incumbent Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio.

Passero won the nomination at the Democratic Town Committee meeting by a vote of 39 to 17. He will be joined on the Democratic ballot by some new faces seeking election to both the City Council and Board of Education.

In a brief speech after the nomination Passero promised to restore professional management to the city.

“I will be campaigning to restore respect for our employees,” Passero said. “I will be campaigning to throw open the doors of City Hall to anyone who is willing to work for our city. I will be ready to hear from everyone. We are all Whalers. We all share the same goal. We have disagreements, but we want to see this city succeed.”

Passero was applauded by the committee and people crowded behind a barrier of tables erected to separate voting members from the public at the Senior Center. Finizio was backed by a contingent of people who rallied outside and included union members carrying signs of support and at times barking through a bullhorn.

Finizio, who lost the nomination for the city’s first strong mayor four years ago, had predicted the loss to Passero on Tuesday and has said he planned to focus on the primary.

“The last caucus I got about six votes,” Finizio said after the vote. “I’m very grateful that number increased a bit tonight. I look forward to the debate ahead.”

Finizio said his team planned to start Wednesday on gathering the necessary signatures to petition his way onto the ballot for the Sept. 16 primary.

“We will see everyone in September,” Finizio said. “Ultimately the people of New London will decide.”

City Council President Wade Hyslop announced Tuesday he would not seek another term on the council but spoke in support of Finizio’s run for a second term.

“We need to learn how to support our incumbents,” Hyslop said.

Hyslop said while he didn’t always agree with Finizio, he felt part of the council had always worked against Finizio in an attempt to ensure he failed.

“Some people were not willing to change or support change,” Hyslop said. “He’s always been fair with me. He’s always been open. I think on the whole he’s done a great job for the city. There were some bumps along the road, but there are bound to be when you’re first out of the chute.”

Hyslop said he been involved in New London politics for more than 25 years and it was time for “new blood,” on the City Council. Hyslop said he has served for four terms on the City Council and 14 years in Hartford as a state representative. He said he planned to spend more time with his family and perhaps reappear on the political scene when needed.

The loss of Passero and Hyslop as candidates for the seven-member City Council left three open spots on their slate.

One current City Councilor, Martin Olsen, is a Republican. The Democratic Town Committee voted to fill those spots with Ryan Henowitz, Martha Marx and John Satti.

Don Venditto, however, accepted a nomination from the floor and in a vote by the committee secured his spot by garnering more votes than Henowitz.

The highest vote getter after the vote was Erica Richardson followed by Satti, Anthony Nolan, Marx, Efrain Dominguez, Michael Tranchida and Venditto. Richardson, Nolan, Dominguez and Tranchida are current members of the City Council.

Martha Marx, a nurse with the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut, said she decided to run because of her love of the city and desire to inspire more women to get into politics.

For the Board of Education, the committee nominated current members Margaret Mary “Peg” Curtin, Rob Funk, Scott Garbini, Sylvia Potter, Aracelis Vazquez-Haye and newcomers Jason Catala and Zachary Leavy.

William Geising was nominated to serve another term as the Democratic registrar of voters.

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: @SmittyDay

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