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Rookie to NL politics says he wants to pay the community back as mayor

NEW LONDON -- New London mayoral candidate Bill Gossman is running for public office due to a recommendation.

"Many of my friends said I should do it ... and that I'd be good at it. So I'm taking them up on their word," said Gossman, a potter in New London.

"I thought I'd have a chance to pay back a little bit for what I've gotten from the community here."

Although he's a newcomer to city politics, Gossman said he has the listening skills and diplomacy to fill the mayor's chair of New London.

"I don't have a lot of administrative experience or anything like that," Gossman said. " ... But I've been told I'm a good listener and I'm pretty diplomatic about solving problems."

During the next couple years, Gossman said, New London will need to address concerns with its tax base and the property recently annexed into the city.

Gossman said the City Council will need to address taxes sometime in the next two years because state funding for local governments is continuing to decline. Gossman said tax rates will need a reconfiguration to cover city expenses and services, which could be a difficult task when the tax base hasn't grown significantly.

The City Council will also need to manage the land New London recently annexed, Gossman said. The city needs to address the development and zoning of the property that will stretch the city limits, he said.

Gossman admits he doesn't have a lot of applicable experience, but he has participated in New London's Connected Communities Initiative, a program of the Southwest Initiative Foundation. He has also organized numerous art festivals in town.

But where experience may lack, Gossman fills the void with ambition.

"What I would like to see happen is to get more involvement from the community in community decision-making and community events," Gossman said. "I would like to see more involvement ... and see if the community can focus on the few things that are important to everybody."

If elected, Gossman said he would also like to attract new industries to the area, enhance New London's cultural environment and increase tourism to the city in some way. Many of these goals would also "bring a little more money to town from the outside," Gossman said.

Gossman said New London has two good candidates running for mayor, but he would fit the job description better because he works and lives in town.

"I might have a little bit of an advantage over Perry (Nelson) because I live and work in town," Gossman said. "I would be more accessible as mayor."

Current Mayor John Mack is not seeking another mayoral term and has instead filed for election to a seat on the New London City Council.