Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Petitioning candidate enters mayoral race

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
May 21, 2007

VERNON - It may seem early yet, but that hasn't stopped one man from throwing his hat into the mayor's race as a petitioning candidate.

James Webb Wilson, 65, says now that he's retired, he wants to be more involved in town government and inform residents on how it all works.

A South Street resident for 36 years, Wilson has been attending Town Council and Board of Education meetings in recent months for further understanding of local politics and to weigh in during the council's citizen's forum.

A former teacher, his platform is based on education. Wilson says he wants to make town government comprehensible and user-friendly for residents, improve awareness of social services, and enhance communication between the council and school board.

He has asked the school board to create a civics class for high school students and adult education that would feature local government and its workings.

"I want to see more people involved in town government, rather than the select few who like to make a career out of things," Wilson said. "Maybe if we teach about it in the schools, more people will be interested in getting involved."

To run as a petitioning candidate, Wilson needed 62 signatures, or one percent of 6,109, which is the number of people who voted for mayor in the last municipal election in 2005. Wilson presented 90 signatures to the town clerk and Secretary of the State's office, which verified the names as actual registered voters. As a result, he can run as an unaffiliated candidate for mayor and his name will appear on the ballot in November.

Born in upstate New York, Wilson graduated from the New York State Teacher's College in Buffalo before joining the Army. He was stationed in Germany as an operations clerk training military police.

He taught middle school math for a year in East Bloomfield, N.Y., before changing careers and becoming a data processor with Traveler's Insurance. He moved to Connecticut and stayed with Traveler's until his retirement in 1994.

He and his wife, Nancy, have been married for 38 years, and raised a son and a daughter in Vernon. He is a grandfather to three girls who attend local schools.

In recent years, Wilson has lived with a heart condition that has seen him hospitalized at least once a year. But he says the disability is manageable and will not prevent him from actively campaigning or performing the duties of mayor should he win.

So far, Democrats have one candidate in the race - Mayor Ellen L. Marmer, who announced her candidacy in March - and Republicans haven't yet announced a candidate.

Republican Town Chairman Hal Cummings said today that the Republicans have a few candidates lined up, but are waiting until a budget is passed before making any announcement.

"We're trying to hold off and avoid making the budget process more political," Cummings said, adding that if a budget isn't adopted by August, Republicans will likely name a candidate then.

©Journal Inquirer 2007