Selectman Plans Run, Creating Own Party

Courant Staff Writer

May 17 2007

SIMSBURY -- Five-term Republican Selectman John Romano announced plans Wednesday to run for first selectman as an independent and to create a new political party on which he and other candidates will run.

An engineer and 29-year town resident, Romano said he had been approached by residents expressing dissatisfaction with the town's current leadership.

"There is a void in leadership in the town," he said. "There are too many homeowners' groups with unresolved issues. What residents have to go through to get something accomplished is unfortunate. The goal of the new party is to be accessible to citizens and for citizens."

Romano, 62, a project manager for the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority, said he planned to file the necessary paperwork to register his yet-unnamed party this week. It will be made up of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters, he said.

An anti-big box homeowners' group had been rumored to be creating an independent party, but Romano said his new party has no ties to that group. He said he has, however, consulted with the leadership of Simsbury Homeowners for Responsible Development, or SHARE - as he has with other local groups - and has their full support.

At least two people say they plan on running for town office with Romano.

Bradford Mead, a Republican alternate for the last three years on the town planning commission, confirmed Wednesday that he will seek a full seat on that commission under the new party banner. Bruce Elliott, an unaffiliated voter and SHARE steering committee member, said he will run for zoning commission on the ticket.

Both Romano and Mead have been rebuffed at various times by GOP party members. Romano lost a bid to become deputy first selectman to Selectman Joel Mandell in 2005 over Romano's claims that he was the second highest vote-getter.

More recently, the Republican town committee appointed Darren Cunningham instead of Mead to fill a vacancy on the planning commission even though Mead was first in line for the seat. Mead believes his support of size limits on new development is the reason, although Tom Rechen, a spokesman for the GOP town committee, denied the claim.

Rechen declined comment on Romano's defection from the party, noting that a reporter's question was the first he had heard of it.

Romano insisted his campaign was not motivated by bad feelings toward Mandell or incumbent First Selectman Tom Vincent. Rather, he said, it is an attempt to point the town in a new direction and to foster greater public involvement in decision-making by elected boards and commissions.

"I just see this as a needed change," Romano said. "I see it as a different focus from the way Republicans and Democrats have led Simsbury. ... I would like a board of selectmen that is totally involved, not a rubber stamp group or for show. For 10 years it's pretty much been that."

Romano joins a growing field of candidates attempting to unseat three-term Republican Vincent in November. Selectman John Hampton, a Democrat, formed an exploratory committee in March and is expected to announce his candidacy next week.

Contact Loretta Waldman at

Copyright 2007, Hartford Courant