Seeking the Democratic nomination, Bob Coppola said in a telephone interview last night that he will primary, "if necessary." I told Bob that I thought that it was a bit early to start campaigning but he said that his task right now is to "build up support." "Many Democratic Town Committee Members have pledged support," he said, "and I'm looking for more."
"I'm a moderate," Bob said. "People know that I've been a Democrat and a Republican but I'm not philosophically linked to either the Ds or the Rs although I'm leaning toward being a D.
Asked to explain why he's running, Bob said, "I'm 65 years old and am retiring from teaching in June. If I'm ever going to run for Mayor it's got to be now.
"I'm not running against Pat Murphy. I'm running on my ideas. My campaign slogan is, 'A Bridge to the Future' and I plan to be the Mayor of all the people, not just the Democrats and Republicans. My litmus test isn't a person's party affiliation, it's the person's ideas."
Admitting that he has a lot of work to do to get up to speed on the issues, Bob said that Pat Murphy has enough on her hands right now with the Budget and he doesn't want to put her "in a bind right now" and engage in a year-long campaign. "I'll put my specifics on the table in May because the Mayor shouldn't be distracted from her work on the Budget."
Speaking of the Budget, I asked Bob if he agreed with the News-Times Editorial that it may not have been the best time to sign a new teachers' contract. "Teachers have to take a moment and think about what's going on right now," he said. "I don't want to be specific at this time but something has to give. Administrators should consider putting a hold on raises . People are hurting. We have to consider the people who are losing their jobs. I feel for them.
"As far as the Budget is concerned, administratively, we need to work things out with the Board of Ed. It shouldn't be confrontational. Town Hall and the BOE have been at odds for many years."
I asked Bob about combining the Finance Departments and facilities maintenance responsibilities. "I don't support the combining of the Finance Departments. Absolutely not. There'll be conflicts over who will sign a purchase order. But I'd like to look into combining facilities maintenance."
I asked if he had any suggestions for the current Administration. "We should have committees like the TEC7 that we had for Route 7 and expand it to include Route 67. People need a platform and need to be heard." He was referring, of course, to 7TAC, the Route 7 Technical Advisory Committee. "Something has to be done about the flooding that was created by the widening."
He also said that the Mayor "doesn't seem to be eager to work on the homeless issue." "I don't think that we should pretend that they're not there. We need to boost our social services. This is the year to act. I know there'll be places in the Budget to cut but this isn't one of them. This is the time to help people."
Bob said that he has support from many people. "You read in Nanci Hutson's story that Board of Ed Member Dave Lawson is a supporter. So is a gentleman named George Barta who will help make me computer literate.
"I reached out to Jay Umbarger but I'm not pressing him because his Wife is prominent in the Republican Town Committee."
Clearly, Mr. Coppola has a lot of work to do. As time passes, he will be pressed on the issues and asked the tough questions.
"I don't plan to be Mayor for a long time. If I'm not elected, I'll take my Social Security."