Rossi has her mandate
When it was all over Nov. 5, the majority of the voters who came out determined “stay the course” was the best path for the city’s future. By a whopping 60 percent, the voters gave Mayor Nancy Rossi a second term, and with it a mandate to keep on the path set out two years ago.
Rossi now has the voters’ imprimatur to continue the cost-cutting, budget-trimming program that she ran on in 2017, and continued in the past campaign. But besides that, the voters have also, by extension, given her administration and the Municipal Accountability Review Board a thumbs-up to the five-year plan.
Realistically, the voters had no way of reversing that plan, but the administration’s cooperation with the MARB was an issue in the last campaign. Voters seemed to understand the necessity for the drastic measures, and, while they might not like it, they gave approval to the incremental mill-rate increases that come with the five-year plan. In some sense, that takes that issue off the table for the present time, allowing the Rossi administration some freedom to implement its austerity program.
While Michele Gregorio ran one of the best GOP campaigns in recent memory, history was on the side of Rossi. One-term mayors have only been turned out of office twice in the city’s short history: William Heffernan and Clemente Evangeliste, Democrat and Republican, respectively.
Heffernan was caught up in the sometimes Byzantine machinations of West Haven politics, and was supplanted by Robert Johnson, who had four terms. Evangeliste took the city by claiming to be a businessman, and oversaw a budget that put the city into the red by $17 million.
Rossi, while she lamented the oversight of the MARB, had, it must be admitted, political cover because of the review board. While much of what happened in the city’s budgetary crafting came from MARB, the practical effects, the taxes and cost-cuts, were put all at the state panel’s doorstep.
Mrs. Rossi now has two years to implement her vision for the future of the city, while doing so with the restrictions MARB has imposed. The voters gave her that opportunity. We wait to see what the future brings.
GOP: grasp opportunity
Meanwhile, the city’s GOP should take the opportunity of polling its best numbers in recent memory as a sign there is interest in a two-party system in West Haven. Michele Gregorio polled more than 4,000 votes, and in a city where the number of Democrats to Republicans is about 6:1, that is worth noting.
In fact, Barry L. Cohen won the 10th District seat as a Republican, giving the incoming City Council not only its minority seat as mandated under the charter, but another voice. For the first time in almost 30 years a motion made by a Republican can have a second, and discussion actually take place. With only one minority member in that time, many an issue fell for lack of a second.
But, the possibility of a party resurgence did not come without some cost. Reports talk of a split in the small ranks of the GOP hampered the campaign.
That is not a good sign among some encouraging ones. The Republican Party must seize the opportunity to become relevant again. It must do so with one voice, and with strong leadership. Whatever the split in the ranks, it is past time for the city’s minority party to get back into the mix and become a voice in city affairs.