Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
McCoy likely candidate for mayor

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
July 11, 2007

VERNON - Political sparring over the council table should reach new heights in the coming months as Deputy Mayor Jason L. McCoy is expected to try to unseat Mayor Ellen L. Marmer in November.

Marmer last spring announced her intent to try for a third term, followed by an independent petitioning candidate, James Webb Wilson, who also has thrown his hat into the race.

Republicans are trying to keep their candidates for the November election under wraps until they caucus in two weeks, but informed sources say McCoy has been planning a run for mayor since May.

The proposed Republican slate also promises the return of former mayor Diane Wheelock and current Board of Education member Peggy Jackle, who both plan to run for a council seat, insiders say.

Republican council members - Daniel E. Anderson, Mark S. Etre, Bill Campbell, Daniel Champagne, and Brian Motola - are expected to run for re-election. George Apel, who is finishing out the term of a retired Christy Vale, will not, however.

For his part, McCoy was reticent last week, and would say only he is still undecided.

Republican Town Committee Chairman Hal Cummings, meanwhile, declined to comment on the proposed slate, saying the party had received a number of applicants wanting to go up against Marmer in November, and he was waiting for the party caucus, scheduled for Tuesday, July 24, when formal decisions will be made.

But well-placed Republican sources say McCoy, who has served on the council for eight years, is the frontrunner for the Republican mayoral nomination.

At age 36, McCoy, a local lawyer in private practice, is in his fourth term on the Town Council. He came onto the council in January 1999 to fill a vacancy when Denise A. Graham resigned. He was elected to that seat in 2001, and re-elected in 2003 and 2005.

He is the grandson of former multi-term mayor Frank J. McCoy, who served from 1969-75 and again from 1977-79.

This run for the mayoral seat is not his first foray into a political race beyond the Town Council. McCoy ran and lost three times for a state legislative seat, going up against Claire Janowski, D-Vernon, twice for the 15-year Democratic stronghold of the 56th House District, and losing narrowly once to former Democratic Rep. Thomasina Clemons in 1998.

Democrats, meanwhile, who will caucus July 18, have fully endorsed Marmer, 68, in her re-election bid and the return of council members Connie Simon, Marie Herbst, Bill Fox, Mary Oliver, and Pauline Schaefer.

Tom DiDio, Democratic town chairman, said the slate also would include newcomer Michael Winkler, and David H. Herrmann and Inland Wetlands Chairman Steve Taylor, who both ran for council seats in 2005.

In addition to the mayor's seat, voters in November will choose among candidates vying to sit on the Town Council, electing 12 in all. According to town charter no one party can hold more than eight seats. Republicans hold a 7-5 majority on the Town Council.

Democrats are hoping that will change in November, as historically there has been a turnover of majority rule on the Town Council with every election.

As for the mayor's race - it'll be hot, DiDio said.

"Obviously there's chemistry there at the Town Council" between Marmer and McCoy, who are diametrically opposed on nearly everything, DiDio said, adding, "It's going to be a very clear choice for the citizens."

©Journal Inquirer 2007