Published July 17. 2013 8:45PM Updated July 18. 2013 12:32AM
Norwich — The Republican Town Committee endorsed incumbent Mayor Peter Nystrom for re-election and endorsed five candidates for City Council and three candidates for Board of Education on Wednesday night.
Nystrom was endorsed nearly unanimously, with none opposed but with one abstention — Republican Town Committee Chairman Raymond Dussault — for a second four-year term.
Nystrom stressed economic development and the need for a strong public educational system for the city as top issues in the coming campaign. He said the city must promote Norwich Public Utilities, the city-owned utility that has a good track record of supporting clean energy alternatives and a strong record of responding quickly to storm damage.
The caucus endorsed incumbent Alderwoman Sofee Noblick, former Alderman William Nash, current Harbor Management Commission member Jerry Martin, former harbor commission member James Paulsen, and Jon Blackburn for City Council. All were endorsed unanimously.
Martin, Paulson and Blackburn all will be running for elected office for the first time.
The endorsements represent a full slate of party candidates for the council and the mayoral seat. Because the mayor is a voting member of the City Council, no more than five members of any one party can be elected on Nov. 5.
The caucus also endorsed the current three incumbents on the Board of Education for re-election: Aaron Daniels, Lynn Norris and Dennis Slopak. The school board has nine members, and no more than six can represent one political party. The current board has six Democrats and three Republicans.
The Democratic Town Committee will hold its caucus at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
After the Republican caucus endorsements Wednesday, Dussault addressed the town committee and offered a general criticism of "city leadership," with the specific example of the financially struggling city-owned ice rink. He said taxpayers have been subsidizing the rink for 17 years and urged current elected officials and new candidates to take a closer look at the issue.
"The taxpayer subsidy needs to end," he said.
Martin disputed Dussault's claims, calling the ice rink a valuable asset to the city as it provides low-cost access to ice sports that some families couldn't otherwise afford. Dussault said the town committee should discuss the rink and other issues likely to arise during the campaign at a future meeting.