NEW HAVEN – More than a dozen people crowded inside New Haven Bakery on Wednesday morning to support mayoral candidate Republican Bob Nelson.
“Under my leadership, we will focus not only on the next few years, but the next 40 years,” said Nelson, the East Allen County Schools board president. “I want to prepare the next generation of leaders in New Haven.”
Nelson, 60, joins Steve McMichael, Republican city councilman and business owner, in vying to lead New Haven. Longtime incumbent Terry McDonald, a Republican, has said he is not seeking re-election in 2019.
Nelson said several people encouraged him to run for mayor. He stressed he isn't seeking a long tenure.
“I am looking to be a bridge to the next generation of leadership,” Nelson said, speaking to an audience that included his mother, his wife, a New Haven High School administrator and two city councilmen.
Nelson, who works in marketing and public relations, has lived in New Haven more than 30 years. McMichael moved to New Haven in 2003.
Nelson was first elected to the EACS board in 2012 and was re-elected for a second term in 2016. He has been board president since January 2017.
If elected as mayor, Nelson's second term on the school board would be cut short a year. Fellow board member Chris Baker, who attended Nelson's campaign announcement, didn't view that possibility as a loss to East Allen.
The school district would benefit from a stronger relationship with the city, Baker said, confident Nelson won't turn a blind eye to East Allen as mayor.
“I think it's great for New Haven,” Baker said.
Education – along with community pride and safety and security – is an area Nelson would focus on as mayor.
Nelson summarized projects he has fought for in East Allen, including the high school renovation, the construction of a new intermediate school and the development of a vocational school. It's time, he said, city leadership takes a stronger, more visible stand in education at the city's private and public schools, which are doing amazing things.
“We need to tell our story,” Nelson said.
Nelson intends to be a mayor who is visible throughout the community, visiting businesses, churches and community gatherings. Everyone – elected officials, and business, community and educational leaders – will have a voice.
He promised monthly updates via print, video and social media and has formed an accountability group to hold him to his intentions.
“My leadership will be different,” Nelson said.