Groton - After fielding just one candidate in the last election, city Republicans energized by the controversy surrounding Thames Valley Communications have rebounded this year with a full slate for City Council and a challenge to Mayor Marian Galbraith.
Town Council member and former town Mayor James Streeter is running for city Mayor and joins six Republican candidates for the Democrat-dominated six-member council.
"For the past 10 or 12 years we've pretty much been a one-party government," Streeter said. "The Democrats have been in charge. I felt with the present situation some leadership was needed and I took the opportunity to step forward."
Streeter is a longtime city resident and historian who in 2009 became the first Republican elected to the city council in a decade. Months after his election, however, he gave up his spot in favor of a position on the Town Council.
Keith Hedrick is the lone Republican on the council. The Republican slate includes former Democrats Jay Dempsey and Michael Boucher, both outspoken critics of the city's handling of TVC.
On the Democratic side, Galbraith is running for her second term as mayor. She is a former council member who spent three decades teaching in the city. Galbraith was deputy mayor when she ran unopposed for the seat vacated by Democratic Mayor Dennis Popp in 2011. Democrats have endorsed a full slate of candidates which includes some new faces.
Deputy Mayor Celeste Duffy and council member David Hale are not seeking re-election for personal reasons, according to City Democratic Committee Chairwoman Shirley Dunbar-Rose.
Dunbar-Rose said despite some criticism from what she called a vocal minority surrounding the TVC sale, Galbraith has "tried to be fair and open-minded, keeping the public informed of what's going on." She praised Galbraith's work to pass a charter revision and ongoing improvements to Thames Street.
"She's got an excellent track record. I think (critics) just need something to make an issue of," Dunbar-Rose said. "The city lost a lot of money. When you start to run in the red and you can't find a way out of the red, you move on."
TVC, the municipally-owed cable and Internet business, was sold last week for $550,000 and left the city with $27.5 million of debt because of losses dating back to the company's formation in 2004.
Streeter said the TVC issue and what appears to be a lack of transparency helped prompt his run for mayor.
"Did they stop the bleeding - yes," he said of the sale of TVC. "It's not that Marian didn't take care of the problem. But it should have been done a long time ago. There are some problems with not really divulging all the info about the who, what, when, where on how we got into this situation. We deserve those answers. We want to re-establish some trust in the city government."
Galbraith said "it would be unfortunate" if Republicans tried to make the TVC situation a partisan issue. The search for a buyer for TVC predates Galbraith's election as mayor and she said since becoming mayor she has done her best to inform the council and residents.
"This was about what's right for the city," Galbraith said of the sale of TVC. "Something clearly had to be done. I think this administration has been as transparent as we could be."
Galbraith said the sale of TVC will serve to financially stabilize the city.