Apel to seek Republican nomination for mayor of Vernon
By Suzanne Carlson
VERNON — Board of Education member George F. Apel has announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for mayor and said he would use his detail-oriented accounting skills to keep spending in check if elected.
“I feel that I have the knowledge, experience, and ability to do the job and do it well,” Apel said.
A prolific volunteer and former Town Council member, Apel, 76, is known as a careful auditor of town finances and a no-nonsense public servant.
Apel’s bid comes after Friday’s announcement by Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy that he would not seek re-election and instead would take a year to explore running for the Senate seat to be vacated by U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in 2012.
Republican Town Chairman Harold Cummings said Friday that the party’s nominating committee would not endorse petitioning candidate and Republican Gordon Paterson.
Instead, Cummings said, the committee has chosen a “very competent and capable replacement,” who “can carry on and see through what Jason has already started.”
It’s expected that Republicans will approve Apel’s endorsement at Tuesday’s caucus.
“I have a genuine love for this town and many fond memories of growing up here,” Apel said. “I want Vernon to be the best it can be.”
Apel’s great-grandparents moved to the Vernon-Rockville area from Germany in the 1860s to work in the mills, and six generations of his family have lived here, Apel said.
Apel holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a master’s in business administration. He served in the Navy from 1954 to 1957 and resides on Tallwood Drive. He, his wife, and their three children all attended Vernon schools.
After working as an engineering manager at Pratt & Whitney for 33 years, Apel said, he retired in 1991 and started to look for ways to use his new free time to help the community.
He served as the president of the Vernon chapter of Habitat for Humanity, renovating a house on Ward Street and building new homes on Brooklyn Street, and has worked with groups such as the Fidelco guide dog organization and Meals on Wheels.
He was elected to the Town Council in 1993, but chose not to seek re-election two years later, as he had been appointed finance committee chairman of the Hartford area chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
In March 2007, Republicans chose him to replace former council member Christy N. Vale and finish the remaining eight months of her term.
He was elected to a two-year term on the Board of Education in November 2007 and is serving a four-year board term.
Apel said he’s also served on the Permanent Municipal Building Committee, the Board of Assessment Appeals, the 1994 Charter Revision Commission, and the School Building Advisory Commission, among other groups and subcommittees.
While on the council in 1994, Apel said, he worked with the board to produce a report on cooperation between the town and schools, and hopes to continue collaboration between the two bodies to achieve cost-savings in areas such as purchasing and energy usage.
“That’s something I definitely want to continue. I think there’s many areas where we can share things,” Apel said. “It’s just something that has to happen, we only have so many resources.”
In addition, Apel said, he’s had a hybrid car since 2007 and would encourage the town to investigate the use of solar energy and other alternative fuel sources that could potentially cut costs.
Beyond cutting costs, Apel said he wants all town employees to have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them.
“One of the first things I want to do is I want to see that every department within the town government has a very detailed two-year and long-term plan. Without having a plan, you can’t actually track where you’re going,” Apel said.
In addition to taking the lead on accountability in government, Apel said he also sees it as his responsibility to set the tone for debate and discussion among elected officials and town staff.
“I think that once you enter into the chamber of the council and you’re in session, there has to be mutual respect of everybody around that table,” Apel said. “I look at the Town Council when it’s in session it should be setting a model and an example, and that’s something I will try to promote.”
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