Norwich mayoral race sees field of three candidates

By Janice Steinhagen- Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Tue., Oct. 22, 2013
- Contributed Photo

Three candidates are vying for the office of mayor of Norwich this November. Along with incumbent two-term Republican Peter Nystrom and sitting Democratic city council member Deb Hinchey, the Libertarian party is fielding William Russell as its candidate, leading the slate of its five city council candidates.

Russell, a first-time political candidate, is a retired veteran of both the Navy and the National Guard, retiring with the rank of staff sergeant. He and his wife of 41 years, Carolyn, have lived in the city since 1981, and he is currently a salesman at Superior Lamp. He said his property taxes in the city have ballooned from $2,100 in 2005 to $4,500 this year.

“We need to spend within our means. The budget needs to be cut in every area,” said Russell. “People have gotten too comfortable with spending other people’s money.” He said he would eliminate the Norwich Community Development Corporation, as well as the city manager and the parking commission, which he said keeps people away from downtown businesses. He also said he would pursue charter revision that would implement a strong-mayor form of government, and that he planned to quit his job to be a full-time mayor.

Nystrom, who served 18 years in the state assembly from 1979 through 2002 and who works for UPS, said he aims to “finish the things I started” as mayor. He said that bonded programs for downtown, including $1 million in funds to help new or expanding businesses, are part of an overall plan to breathe new life into the city’s businesses and residential areas. “I always looked at that as a five-year plan, and we’re in year three now,” he said. “It’s very important that that be maintained, [along with] protecting the public dollar.”
He said that he also hoped to continue to work with the board of education to support the city’s efforts to reshape its schools, and to collaborate with Norwich’s historical societies to protect the city’s resources. “We can turn this city into a real tourist attraction,” he said. He also supports continued efforts to relocate and upgrade the city’s police station.

Hinchey, a licensed clinical social worker, currently in her second term on city council, has lived in Norwich since the 1970s. She said she would be a full-time mayor if elected, and would work to coordinate the NCDC with other city departments. Her main goal, she said, is to promote the city’s assets and focusing on the city’s existing businesses, “and find out what works for them. “Cutting the budget is just not possible. People want their taxes reduced. We have to do that by bringing in more revenue and making Norwich a business-friendly city.”

Hinchey said she would use “an interdisciplinary team approach” between city employees and officials “to look at what hidden cost efficiencies we can make rather than cutting staff.” She said that voter rejection of the proposed new police station sent a clear message against the plan, one that she would respect.

Also on the November ballot is a $5 million bond issue question on funding for paving part of the city’s roads and bridges.

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