Ending weeks of rumors and speculation a former city councilman, and mayoral executive secretary has decided to seek the Democratic nomination for mayor in the 2021 municipal elections. John Lewis announced his plans to seek the nod in a live-streamed event with supporter and online before the First Congregational Church.
Lewis served on the council, representing the Third District, but most recently was Executive Secretary to former Mayor Edward O’Brien. There had been talk of his interest in running since the first of the year, and the announcement this week confirmed those reports.
Besides serving on the council, Lewis has served on various boards and commissions as well as the Democratic Town Committee. He currently is on the executive board of the West Haven Community House and is Church Moderator for First Congregational Church.
Saying his experience has given him perspective on how to work with individuals, he said the city must face the problems it has and he’s the person to make that happen.
“We need to focus on economic development, expansion of services for our Seniors and youth, repair our crumbling infrastructure, appropriately fund our children’s education, and restore that sense of community,” he said.
In his statement he listed several projects he would tackle if given the opportunity to sit on the third flor of City Hall.
~~ To appoint a Qualified Professional to head the Department of Planning and Development and review all procedures to ensure that we ARE a business-friendly City, To continue my conversations with the Department of Economic and Community Development;
~~ seeking the Bioscience Enterprise Zone designation for the Railroad Avenue/Frontage Road corridor from the Armstrong building to the gates of Yale West, making the city the sixth BEZ in the state;
~~ Formulate an plans for the City Hall parking lot to include a multi-story building with underground parking, street-level retail, and a long-term favorable lease for municipal offices, with levels of professional offices, and high-ticket condos on upper floors catering facility on the penthouse and an observation deck on the roof;
~~ To actively engage and partner with property owners along Beach Street to ensure appropriate redevelopment along the shore;
~~ seek private investment in the Arts Center that has laid vacant since its purchase more than a decade ago;
~~ Other proposals concerning infrastructure upgrades, senior and youth center improvements or construction, and improve veterans’ quality of life.
Also included in his statement is a proposal for an ordinance to fine utility companies for “shoddy workmanship” if a work site is not brought back to its previous condition.
A proposal espoused by Lewis is one that has been discussed before, and could be a hot topic during the campaign, privatization of services.
He said his administration will “investigate privatization of select City services to reduce expenditures as the Board of Education successfully demonstrated with the food services.”
He also is supportive of getting rid of the current retirement program for the WHPD, and going back to a pension program.
Going back to the theme of unity, he said the only way to accomplish these and more tasks is through unity.
“To How will we accomplish this? Together. Together with the residents. Together with community organizations. Together with local businesses. Together with our local legislators. Together with our places of worship and our families. Together,” he said.
Implying the city is being run by a small group of individuals, he said his administration will make government more responsive to voters.
“Gone will be the days of a few advisors deciding the future of our municipality; every resident will become an advisor to this administration. We will truly restore the maxim of government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he said.
Lewis said his wife and family moved to the city more than two decades ago, and he became part of the community, coaching his kids, working on committees, and getting involved in the various aspects of the city’s life. He hopes to transfer that experience into his administration.
“Our children need to rely upon us to ensure a vibrant City to prosper, raise a family, restore a sense of community that we can all be proud of. We can, together, restore that pride and prosperity to West Haven,” he said before asking for support.
Lewis’ decision all but guarantees a Democratic Primary later this year. While she hasn’t announced officially, it is expected Mayor Nancy Rossi will seek a third term.