Krupienski a non-partisan choice in Vernon mayor’s race
By Suzanne Carlson
VERNON — Family and friends joined unaffiliated Town Council member James Krupienski on Thursday at Fox Hill Tower for his formal announcement that he’s running for mayor.
“The town of Vernon in recent months has had a jaded political scene,” Krupienski said. “It has become clear that it’s time for a new vision for Vernon, it’s time for independent thinking on the part of all of our elected officials.”
While Krupienski was endorsed by and ran on the Democrats’ council slate in his first election in 2009 — although he’s a registered unaffiliated voter — he has resisted pressure to join up with a major party and will be on the ballot as an unaffiliated petitioning candidate.
Krupienski is the fourth mayoral candidate to declare his intentions, following the Democrats’ pick, council member Pauline Schaefer; Republican-endorsed Board of Education treasurer George Apel; and registered Republican, lawyer, and engineer Gordon Paterson, who says he’s running as an independent petitioning candidate.
It’s unlikely there will be any other candidates entering the race as petitions to get on the ballot are due by August 10.
Paul Stansel, a board Democrat who attended Thursday’s gathering and is seeking re-election in November, said he’s known Krupienski since they attended Rockville High School and wanted to show his personal support for a longtime friend.
Although Democrats couldn’t persuade Krupienski to join their slate again, Stansel said they wish him well.
“James is a great guy; I think he’s got a lot of really great ideas,” he said. “If the vote goes that way, I think the town of Vernon would be lucky to have him.”
Krupienski received confirmation from the secretary of the state’s office this week that he had collected the needed 55 signatures — 1 percent of the votes case in the last municipal mayoral election — to get on the ballot.
A candidate can run for only one office, so Krupienski would not return to the council if he is not elected mayor, but said he would consider running again in the future.
“My family and I have put forth tremendous thought, consideration, and time in deciding this,” Krupienski said. “The time has come to give Vernon voters a choice, a choice of a candidate free from outside political influence.”
He cited his experience both as a public servant and a municipal employee, and said he would use input from town staff in making decisions.
Krupienski has worked as assistant town clerk in South Windsor since late 2009, when he left a similar position in Vernon.
He started municipal employment in 2001 as a temporary employee in the Building Department, then later shared time in administration. He moved into the town clerk’s office in 2004 when a vacancy opened.
He is a certified town clerk, liaison to the Human Services Department, the recording secretary of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Plan of Conservation and Development review committee, and the Design Review Commission. He also creates the quarterly newsletter and other publications for the Vernon Historical Society.
In his speech to supporters, Krupienski alluded to the council’s April budget talks, which were cut short when Republicans’ third attempt to close the budget in violation of the council's procedural rules finally succeeded, preventing minority members from proposing any changes.
Of the 12 council members, eight are Republicans, and three are Democrats. Krupienski is the sole unaffiliated member.
He listed several priorities he would address if elected: adequate staffing, finding grant opportunities, paying down debt, maintaining the current bond rating, repairing roads and infrastructure, establishment of a capital reserve account to fund renovations to the water pollution control plant, cooperation with the board of education, and encouraging community involvement.
Krupienski urged residents to contact him with questions or concerns, and his wife, Nancy, said her husband’s communication skills would ensure all residents feel heard.
“He’s genuinely concerned with everything in the town,” and “making sure Rockville and Vernon are a cohesive town,” she said.
Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy is not seeking a third consecutive term in office and will instead explore a U.S. Senate run in 2012. Many have said that with a wide-open field, it could be anybody’s game come November.
Krupienski said he’s excited by the “unusual” way the race is shaping up and he feels confident that after years of bitter partisan sparring, voters are receptive to an alternative candidate now more than ever.
“Vernon residents will benefit most from a political process where all of our elected officials have a mutually respectful discussion about issues,” Krupienski said.
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