NEWINGTON - Former Town Council Majority Leader Terry Borjeson has announced his candidacy for mayor and is vying for the Democratic nomination.
Borjeson, 68, pursued the seat in 2015 after four years on the council, but was not endorsed by the nominating committee. Mayor Roy Zartarian went on to defeat Democratic nominee Chris Banach in a GOP sweep of the council and Board of Education.
Now two years later, Borjeson is giving it another shot.
He works part time as a governor’s appointee to the Board of Pardons and Parole, after a 40-year career in criminal justice. If elected, he plans to leave that position.
“I’ve spent my career making a difference and now I want to devote 100 percent of my efforts to making a difference for Newington,” Borjeson said this week.
He has a master’s degree in business administration and has held executive positions in state government, the private sector and nonprofit organizations. With his wife, Cece, he’s spent the last 30 years living and volunteering in Newington.
They’ve encountered some of residents’ needs firsthand, while delivering donations during the Department of Human Services’ holiday food and gift distribution.
“I’ve been volunteering 50 years and I’ve always gotten more out of it than I’ve gained,” Borejson said. “To me, community service should be part of our school curriculum. It’s part of who we are.”
One of his proudest moments on the Town Council was passing a $100,000 collective tax break for veterans and senior citizens.
“You can say a lot about a town by the way they take care of their seniors, their kids and their vets,” he pointed out.
Economic development tops a list of his priorities. Borjeson hosted a forum for business owners Thursday at the Kellogg-Eddy House, collecting feedback on critical issues affecting them.
“We should pursue smart, controlled commercial growth that fits Newington and preserves its special character,” he explained.
Preserving and maintaining historical properties is another of his concerns. Key areas include the Deming-Young Farm, Town Hall, Anna Reynolds School and the Lucy Robbins Welles Library.
“We need to be fiscally responsible, but if we don’t fix these buildings soon we’re going to be in bad shape. Interest rates have gone up 3 percent, construction rates have risen and I think with this economy we’re going to see them go up even more,” he said.
The schools are another area he can’t ignore.
“My wife and I have no children but we value education. It often translates to property values. If you’re not funding the BOE and not opening libraries on Sundays you’re sending a bad message to families thinking about moving to town.”
The state requires party endorsements to be made by July 26 and nominating petitions to be filed by Aug. 9. Newington Democratic Town Chairman John Kelly has already spoken with Borjeson and several other mayoral contenders.
“We’ve had some people talking about it but nothing as concrete as Mr. Borjeson’s interests,” Kelly said.
All 18 seats on the Town Council and Board of Education will be up for election in November, in addition to the positions of fire commissioner, constable and others.
“We have a great number of incumbents on the Democratic side interested in staying and running for re-election,” Kelly continued. “We feel our Democrats have done a great job and they are not responsible for the number of problems caused by the Republican majority. They certainly are willing to stay there and see if we can turn things around for the people of Newington.”
Borjeson would like to be the one to lead the town in a new direction.
“We need a lot more communication and collaboration than we have now,” he said. “When you’re a politician sometimes you have to choose between what’s popular and what’s right. A true leader educates people on those choices.”
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.