NEW LONDON -- With a couple large city projects on the horizon, mayoral candidate Perry Nelson says he wants to provide the leadership needed for New London's futu- re changes.
"The little town of New London has got a tremendous set of events that are going to be happening over the next few years," Nelson said. " ... and if we just don't lead on those events, they're going to happen regardless and we're going to be worse for wear," said Nelson, a member of the New London City Council.
"So I decided it was time to step up to the plate and to lead on those."
Current Mayor John Mack is not seeking re-election to the mayoral post but is instead seeking a seat on the New London City Council.
Nelson said the city's role over the next five years will be "to manage change that's gonna happen, whether we are initiating it or not, whether we want it or not."
One of those upcoming changes, Nelson said, is the rebuilding of the New London dam near downtown.
The dam is scheduled for reconstruction in summer 2009, Nelson said. With the project's size and amount of state funding, Nelson said, New London "can be left with an albatross or we can be left with something that is really an attraction." The project needs city leaders organizing the efforts of multiple government agencies to create the best result for the city, Nelson said.
New London also needs to manage the realignment of County Road 40 from the east side of town, Nelson said. The realignment will involve a bride over state Highway 23 and a connection to state Highway 9 that heads north into downtown, he said.
"Again, this is a project that is crying out for local leadership," Nelson said.
Nelson said the state Department of Transportation scheduled the project, which includes a $10 million bridge, for sometime in the next seven years. New London needs to play "the leading role" in the project, he said, because Highway 9 is a main entrance of the town and numerous agencies will be involved.
The bridge construction will connect downtown to the Affiliated Community Medical Centers clinic on the east side of Highway 23, Nelson said, and eventually will lead to the land development of the recently annexed property nearby.
Nelson said his organizational skills and experience from his two-year council term would benefit him if elected mayor. His first year as councilman was "a learning curve," Nelson said, but he is proud of his work with the Connected Communities Initiative, a program of the Southwest Initiative Foundation. The program helps communities realize their strengths and find ways to develop them further for attracting business and residents.
His experience with Connected Communities, Nelson said, prepares him for New London's upcoming projects, and essentially, to run for mayor.