Rotondo’s in; three others in planning stage

With just about a year to go until the next mayoral election, Mayor Tom Ambrosino has indicated that – for certain – he won’t be running, and it has sent a flurry of activity through local political circles.

“That is correct; I’m not running,” said Ambrosino on Monday. “I’m all done.”

Meanwhile, Councillor-at-large George Rotondo followed that up by making a soft announcement that he will certainly be a candidate for mayor in November 2011.

He said he made up his mind after speaking with the mayor and members of the mayor’s family.

“I will be a candidate for mayor,” he said on Tuesday. “I believe I can do a better job of steering our community in the right direction in these troubling times. I have a track record that shows I will be the candidate to bring accountability and innovation to this community…Most importantly, my interests are for the people and not the insiders. I am the only candidate running for the seat of mayor that is not an insider and we need change.”

Meanwhile, at least three other local politicians have been thrown in the mix, but backed off of making any formal declarations. Those potential candidates were Councillor-at-large Dan Rizzo, School Committeewoman Carol Tye and Councillor-at-large (and former mayor) Bob Haas.

Perhaps Rizzo has been the most vocal for the longest time about running for mayor. He has aspirations for the top office and has made no secret about it.

This weekend, there was great speculation that Rizzo might make a formal announcement at his annual Luau fundraiser. That, however, didn’t happen and this week he said that announcements would probably come later.

“There’s an awful lot going on with statewide offices right now,” he said on Tuesday. “I don’t know if now is an appropriate time…I still continue to be really interested in the position. I’ve been doing my due diligence and talking with people and feeling people out and letting them know my intentions…Mentally, I’ve made up my mind what I’m doing, but probably I’m not going to make any announcement at this point in time.”

Meanwhile, former mayor and current Councillor Bob Haas said he is seriously considering a run and would make a decision some time soon.

“We’re one year out and serious people who are looking at running, people like myself, have to look at it more seriously now,” he said. “At this point, I’m sitting idle and thinking about the ramifications of running again…I haven’t made up my mind yet. I’ll be addressing the situation in about a month to see if it’s worth putting my name before the voters again for mayor.”

He added that he is the only one being talked about who already has experience in the top office, having been mayor in the 1990s for eight years.

“We had a good run for eight years and people wanted change – that change was Tom [Ambrosino],” said Haas. “But over the last eight years, many of the good things happening were started under my administration.”

The wild card in the race – as many have called her potential candidacy – is Tye. The School Committee woman and former School Superintendent has a dominant political following. She commands a great presence at the polls and always racks up some of the highest vote totals in the city.

Were she to run, all three of the above-mentioned candidates would have to seriously altar their strategy.

When contacted, Tye said that she couldn’t say at this point if she will run for mayor, though she did admit she thinks a lot about the future.

“I’m always thinking about the future,” she said. “I might be retired as a superintendent, but I’m not retired from life. I’m very active in a variety of organizations…I feel public service is very rewarding. Of course, I do think about it. I would need to have private conversations first – particularly with Tom [Ambrosino] – before I make any decisions.”

As those three still remain in the testing the waters stage, Rotondo is already prepared to debate the issues – challenging any potential mayoral candidate to a series of debates.

“I will not run on negative campaigning, but there will be contrasts and comparisons of our candidacies,” he said. “I invite whatever candidates that are going to run to participate in Lincoln-Douglas style debates any time, any place and anywhere.”

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