NEW MILFORD — Longtime Republican Town Council member Pete Bass announced his run for mayor Tuesday evening. Bass, 55, has been on the Town Council for 15 years and pledged an “open-door” positive campaign to the some 50 town residents gathered on the town green to hear the announcement.
Flanked by area Republicans including Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and state Rep. Bill Buckbee, Bass said his priority as mayor would be fixing town roads. “When I’m elected to office, we’re gonna take care of these roads, we’re going to make them passable, we’re going to make sure your suspension doesn’t fall off when you’re driving on them.” Atop his Town Council seat, Bass has chaired the Republican Town Committee and is a mortgage loan officer in Brookfield.
The town Republican and Democratic parties have until July 25 to nominate for mayor, and both parties’ town chairs said they will do so at upcoming caucuses. Republicans are slated to nominate on July 19, Democrats on July 20. Republican Town Chair Mike Barnes said Bass is good candidate, but the party won’t make a decision until the 19th.
“He’s a well-qualified candidate,” Barnes said. “He’s donated a lot of time to town, boards and commissions.” Since Mayor David Gronbach, a Democrat, was elected in 2015, Bass has regularly clashed with the mayor on key issues, such as Gronbach’s plan to pull town insurance coverage from nonprofit employees of the Children’s Center. Bass and other Republicans’ countermoves, including efforts to restore town insurance to workers at the Children’s Center, which Gronbach phased out, were often voted down by the Democratic majority on Town Council.
At those meetings, Republicans — including Bass — have long fought with Gronbach about the mayor’s plan to renovate the former John Pettibone School into a community center. Republicans contend the mayor has steamrolled the project without sufficient input from council members and the public and that Gronbach doesn’t have a plan to pay for the renovations, which Republicans project will cost more than the $380,000 the the mayor has budgeted.
In January, Gronbach wrote that Bass and other Republicans “are working every lever behind the scenes to sabotage the project.” Bass, who has been on the Town Council since 2002, has been appointed to several volunteer positions in town during the past decade. He has sat on the Sewer Commission since 2009 and has been on the town Economic Development Commission since 2002.
Bass, a married father of three originally from Pennsylvania, said his wife, Tammy, is the reason he is pursuing public office. “My wife gave me a pretty good lesson, which is ‘you need to give to those that give to you,'” Bass said.