Rye City Councilman Peter Jovanovich announced his intention to run independently for mayor of Rye today, a week after it appeared that his Republican colleague councilman Joe Sack would be uncontested in his mayoral bid.
The Republican councilman and deputy mayor decided to run last week after the Rye City Democratic Committee did not nominate a candidate for mayor, he said. He wants to give Rye voters a choice in candidates and governing philosophies, he said.
“When the Democrats didn’t nominate anyone for mayor it meant that there would be no choice,” Jovanovich said. “And at that point I thought that (voters) deserve not only choice on the ballot, but also choice on governing philosophy.
Jovanovich, 64, was first elected to city council in 2009 and has served as deputy mayor over the last two years. He told the politically divided Republican City Committee weeks ago that he would not run on Sack’s slate because he strongly disagreed with him on issues like land use, labor contracts and infrastructure, he said. He did not want to primary Sack because of the “inherently divisive nature” of primaries, he said.
“I believe that the City of Rye can only be made a better place through the collaboration of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents,” Jovanovich said in a press release today. “The challenges we face are practical, not partisan; and we need volunteers from all points of the political spectrum.”
In order to gain a spot on the November ballot, Jovanovich must collect 377 signatures by an Aug. 20 Board of Elections deadline.
Jovanovich said he is excited with his recent decision to run and looks forward to knock door-to-door seeking independent signatures.
“I am excited particularly about the fact that it is non-partisan. I don’t have to get tied down to Republican versus Democrats,” he said.
The candidate said he has already received a lot of encouragement and support from Rye residents and friends from different ends of the political spectrum.
Issues that Jovanovich feels would be most important to focus on if elected are infrastructure improvements around schools and the train station; reforming the enterprise funds – the boat basin and golf club – to make them more efficient and affordable and to provide more oversight and internal audits; and negotiating labor contracts that help lower city health care costs. Read more about his stance on the issues in his mayoral bid announcement here.
Councilman and mayoral candidate Sack said the Rye United campaign is running on the need to “promote the ideals of integrity and accountability, financial oversight and control, openness and transparency, communication and cooperation, and common sense and good judgment.”
Sack was re-elected to the city council in 2011 after serving his first four-year term. The mayor and city council members serve unpaid four-year terms.
Jovanovich is a former book publisher and is the current President of the Alfred Harcourt Foundation, which provides college scholarship money to children from disadvantaged communities who have overcome great odds. His wife Robin publishes The Rye Record newspaper.
In 2009, Jovanovich ran as a member of the Change for Rye ticket, headlined by current Mayor Doug French, who is not running for re-election, former Councilwoman Suzanna Keith, who has since moved, and current Councilman Richard Filippi, who is not running for re-election this year.
In addition to Jovanovich’s council term, three others will end this fall - city council members Julie Killian and Richard Filippi and incumbent Mayor French. Killian is running for re-election on the Rye United ticket, Sack’s ticket, which also nominated Terry McCartney and Kirstin Bucci for council seats.
Democrats nominated Shari Punyon and Meg Cameron for council seats, but no one for mayor. Rye realtor Jason Mehler is running as an Independence Party nominee.
What do you think of Jovanovich's announcement to run for mayor? Share your thoughts in the comments.