NORWICH — The November 2 election is nearly here, and mayoral candidates John Quattrocchi and Brian Doliver have been hard at work campaigning for the past nine months.
John Quattrocchi is the Democratic candidate. He has lived in Norwich for over 50 years, runs a beer tap cleaning business, and also owns several properties within the city.
Brian Doliver is the Republican candidate, and has been the Ward 2 Alderman for eight years. He has also served as acting mayor and president of the common council.
Candidate Brian Doliver
On Saturday, October 23, two-term Ward 2 Alderman and mayoral candidate Doliver held a meet and greet to meet with prospective voters and discuss any questions or concerns they may have.
The event had a "relaxed atmosphere,” where guests could mingle, but also sit down with Doliver for one-on-one discussions. This is something Doliver said that, as mayor, he would like to keep going.
"As mayor my door will always be open. And I know this is a cliche but, I have an open door policy. So I will have set hours, I'm flexible," he said. "For what it's worth, anybody who wants to meet me, they can meet me at their leisure."
Doliver explained that after serving as an Alderman for eight years, he decided to run for mayor because he has the experience and skills necessary to do the job well.
"I do feel my experience and working with government and working with people puts me in the best position for being mayor, in collaboration with others," Doliver explained. "I think my best attribute that I can bring to the table is my knowledge of government and the complexity [of it]. It continues to get more complex as we go down the road. But I think that I have the ability to start on day one."
Another import aspect for Doliver is his ability to work with others, something he said is extremely important when working as mayor.
"I know who I need to talk to if I don't have the answer. And sometimes I don't have all the answers. But it's important to be able to know where to go for that answer," he said. "I can't stress this enough: you have to work with others. You know, it sounds very simple, but if you can't work with others in government you're not going to get much done."
If elected, Doliver said one of his top priorities will be curbing drug use in the city.
"We need to come together with other organizations. I've worked really hard to bring a Friends of Recovery to the area. They're now here, they deal with substance abuse," said Doliver. "And I've had a lot of conversations with the county, because it's a county problem, too. They have some resources that can help us out, so that's something that's important to continue."
"We have to treat it as a public health issue. And we also need to get it into the schools. We really, we desperately need a school resource officer. He would be able to work with these troubled kids. We don't have them in Norwich; we need one. Many schools in the area have them, we just don't," he added.
During a June candidates' forum, Doliver also expressed that infrastructure and public safety were very important to him as well.
"I think we need to prioritize our infrastructure, prioritize with our code issues," he said. "Our public safety is very important. It's half our budget so, I mean, obviously it should be important. But yeah, that has to continue to be there. The quality of life is very important. But we have to look for grants to do the extra stuff. You have to make sure that the streets are paved, water's clean, the fire trucks are replaced. That's a priority."
Overall, Doliver said he is feeling good about the upcoming election, and is excited to see what the future holds.
"I'm very excited about the next week and a half. I'm committed to working very hard. I'm dedicated to the position as mayor, and I'm excited to move Norwich forward," he said.
Candidate John Quattrocchi
His opponent, John Quattrocchi, is a longtime Norwich resident and local business owner. He held a town hall meeting on September 30, to explain his platform to voters, and answer their questions.
During the meeting, Quattrocchi explained that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, his beer line cleaning business lost a large amount of clients. When speaking with local business owners, he said many of them expressed a lack of assistance from the government, which helped to inspire him to run for mayor.
"[I] talked to the people that I provided service for that were business owners in the City of Norwich, they didn't get help from anywhere in the City of Norwich. None," he said. "We lost something, folks, in that pandemic there. A sense of community. There was a lot of drives and a lot to help people in bad situations, but to be able to come in and help business owners, that's what really sparked me to say, look, it's my time, I have the time to dedicate."
A big focus for Quattrocchi is bringing back a sense of community to the City of Norwich. Some of his main ideas were improving Norwich parks, addressing substance abuse in the area, and bringing in revenue for the city.
"Every ward basically has a park that they can call their own, or they can get to in a reasonable amount of walking. We have a dog park that's on the East end of town in the corner of town, and it's difficult for folks to get to," said Quattrocchi. "We have a community garden in the City of Norwich, but it's on the other side of town at the end of Hale Street. So unless you have a vehicle and you're going to be able to travel there every night to water your tomatoes and your plants, it's gonna be a pretty difficult community garden."
"That's some of my vision for the City of Norwich, just have a community garden. Build a garden there, put some plants in there," he added. "At the end of the day it brings back that community mindedness, and good stewards of our own neighborhood that we sort of look after, that sort of thing."
As a way to address substance abuse in the city, Quattrocchi said having a round-the-clock police presence in the areas where drug use is prevalent is a key part to solving the issue.
"There's a lot of drug activity in Ward 2 ... We know that. It's been that way for the last 10, 12 years and only getting worse. How do we do it? We put a police officer in that ward 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He lives in Ward 2. He monitors Ward 2, there's always somebody walking around Ward 2," he said.
"We're going to have drugs in this community. That's the nature, of course, we understand that cause that happens to every community. But somewhere along the way, things have gotten skewed. And my belief is there's drug dealers saying, let's go to Norwich because it's and easy place to deal drugs," Quattrocchi continued, and explained that the police presence will help to drive that activity out. "That person goes into that area, and sooner or later the realization is you can't do that type of business in the City of Norwich."
Like his opponent, Quattrocchi also holds the belief that the mayor should be accessible to the public, and available to talk on a regular basis.
"I believe anybody in this room, or anybody, should be able to call up the mayor, make an appointment, square a time to sit down and talk about the issues that are happening," he said.
Despite his lack of political experience, Quattrocchi said he feels equipped to handle the position as mayor because he has the time to dedicate to the job, and the passion to do it well.
"I believe I have the time and dedication to afford the position of mayor. The idea that it's a 20 hour week position, but it's a 30, 35 hour week position. I mean, you really have to dedicate the time to know what's going on in City Hall and see what happens," Quattrocchi explained. "Not a lot of political experience, but I believe I have the drive and the passion to be successful in that position."