The planned Republican Party primary was derailed as an error on a petition page left one candidate short of the needed signatures.
Planning & Zoning Commissioner Steven R. Mullins withdrew his name from the race for mayor of the City of West Haven. In a letter to supporters Mullins stated that he withdrew due to an error on his part on a petition sheet submitted to the Registrar of Voters. Mullins was petitioning to primary Councilman Barry Cohen for the Republican nomination at the Sept. 14 primary.
According to City Clerk Patricia Horvath, the error disqualified 19 signatures on Mullins’ petitions, putting him under the necessary 174 needed to be on the ballot. He collected 180 signatures,
The error was the most recent in a scenario that saw an error negate the “endorsed” slate voted by the Republican Town Committee in July. Party officials failed to meet a deadline for filing the slate, which meant candidates had to get on the ballot by means of petition, including Cohen.
Mullins determined to put his name in contention after the error, looking to win the nomination in the primary.
Mullins has been the GOP candidate for mayor at least two other times in this heavily Democratic city that hasn’t elected a Republican since 1989. He was stoic in announcing his departure.
Mullins said that after spending half of his childhood and his entire adult life in service to the city in some capacity, the Mayor’s Office is not “presenting itself this year.” He did not rule it out a run in the future.
“I have spent 15 years as Planning & Zoning Commissioner and served as Justice of the Peace for 21 years. I have worked to bring ethnic groups together, forged a positive working relationship with our police and Black Lives Matter and have worked with interfaith clergy to bring warming centers for our homeless and others in wintertime, he said. “There is so much work to do in West Haven. I will continue to do that work, just not as your mayor.”
The error means Cohen will be the candidate for the minority party, looking to unseat two-term incumbent Democrat Nancy Rossi.
Cohen was conciliatory in his remarks concerning Mullins. The two have differed in the past.
” I wish Steve the very best,” Cohen said. “Per our prior meeting, Steve knows he is always welcome on my team. We both share the same vision: make West Haven a place where families, senior citizens, veterans, and businesses can work live, and thrive.”
He praised Mullins for his community efforts, which Cohen said mirrors his own.
“Over the years, we’ve both served our community with pride and love. This has not and will never change,” he said. “It’s time to move forward. Our goal remains One West Haven.”