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Mayoral Contenders Make Their Pitches To Bristol Seniors

BRISTOL — In making her campaign pitch to senior citizens Wednesday afternoon, Democratic mayoral candidate Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said the city needs leadership that can “start connecting the dots.”

But incumbent Ken Cockayne maintained that Bristol has been improving under his administration.

“We had another zero tax increase this year. I know many of the seniors like that,” he said. “Bristol Blues — we brought them in; the first two years they brought over 80,000 attendance through the gates.”

Ten of the 12 candidates for city council also used the mid-day session to make their case. About 75 people showed up at the senior center to hear each candidate give a three-minute presentation from a stage, followed by an informal meet-and-greet over coffee afterward.

Zoppo-Sassu and other Democrats argued that Bristol can do more to return to its strengths of a generation ago, while the Republican slate said voters should choose candidates who can best steer through what’s likely to be two years of tough economic conditions.

“What you get with me is proven experience,” Cockayne said. “The next few years are going to be difficult with the state of Connecticut’s budget. We need someone at the helm who is working the city right.”

Zoppo-Sassu countered that, even though Bristol is making progress on some fronts, too many problems aren’t getting attention.

“There are lots of good things, but there are also things that maybe are slipping through the cracks,” she said. “Someone could maybe tell you our crime rate has decreased. But our property crimes are increasing, and that is directly linked to our opioid issue.”

Zoppo-Sassu has said that, if she is elected, she would find out why more than 150,000 prescriptions for painkillers were written last year in this city of 60,000 people.

“Opioid drug abuse is affecting every family,” she said. “It’s affecting people who want and need cash to pay for their fix right now. They’re the ones breaking into the cars, they’re the ones that are robbing from family members and neighbors. It’s all connected.”

District 1 council candidate Greg Hahn, a Democrat, said he would press for improvements at Kern Park and faster action to rehabilitate the theater at the former Memorial Boulevard School.

Peter Kelley, a Democrat running in District 2, said, “I’m concerned about the direction the city is going in. I believe we have the stronger team. Ellen has great vision and great character.”

But Andrew Howe, one of Kelley’s Republican opponents in District 2, applauded the work of the Republican administration.

“The state is such a fiscal desert and Bristol is an oasis,” hesaid.

Cheryl Thibeault, the Republican finance board chair seeking a District 3 council seat, said it’s essential for Bristol to budget “prudently” and avoid heavy debt.

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