John Rich to run for Town Council

 

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John Rich, something of a hero to the canines in town, has announced his intention to run for the District 1 Town Council seat — one that’s occupied by Beth Daponte, also the chairwoman of the panel.

Here’s the catch: Both are Democrats, meaning that a primary battle could be looming for Dist. 1, which is in the center of town.

“I filed my papers today with the town clerk,” Rich said Monday. Daponte hasn’t officially announced as yet, but she said Monday that she’ll be filing papers for her candidacy soon. There are 10 council districts in all.

Rich gained some notoriety recently for leading the Dog Park Subcommittee, which sifted through dozens of possible sites for the pooch playground. The council, after digesting Rich’s 40-page report on the subject, OK’d a location in Roosevelt Forest last month.

“I was able to achieve something in a few months what the town’s been wanting to do for the past 10 years,” said Rich, also a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee, saying that he was able to get the Democrats and Republicans on the subcommittee to agree on a site.

Rich, 55, is a respiratory therapist and he lives with his wife, Rose, on Willow Avenue. He grew up in the Lordship section and attended Stratford schools.

He’s also a certified paramedic and he was a volunteer with Stratford EMS when he was younger. The couple has two adult daughters. This would be his first elected position, although he has served on various boards and commissions over the years.

“I was the one who nominated Mr. Rich to a seat on the Parks and Recreation Committee,” said Daponte, who party insiders say hasn’t enjoyed the support from Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Philips that other Democrats on the council seem to have. Daponte is the highest-ranking elected Democrat in town right now.

Still, Philips — herself a candidate for mayor — said Monday that she hasn’t endorsed one over the other.

“We have two great candidates,” she said. “I’ve invited anyone who wants to run to get involved, but I’ve tried to keep an open mind and a neutral posture at the moment and I’m happy that so many people want to run for office.”

Daponte said that “there’s more work to be done,” adding that she’s worked hard to keep the town’s bond rating from falling.

“Keeping the bond rating stable was a huge accomplishment, particularly in light of the Stratford High School project,” she said in reference to the $125.9 million major update for the 1920s-era high school. Of that amount, the town is responsible for $49.8 million.

If there were a Democratic primary in Dist. 1, it would take place Sept. 12. So far, no Republicans have come forward to run for that seat, according to RTC Chairman Lou DeCilio.

“We’ll be getting a slate of candidates together soon,” he said.

Rich will hold a campaign fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. April 26 at the Windmill Restaurant at 400 Hollister St.

 

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