Peter Spalthoff’s life is the American dream, said former Republican Town Committee Chairman Tom Jagodzinski in seconding the nomination for Spalthoff to run for mayor on the GOP ticket.
Spalthoff started life as an orphan, but pulled himself up through hard work, education and military service to become a community-minded successful businessman, according to Jagodzinski.
“He has the background and skills to be mayor, and he deserves to be mayor,” Jagodzinski said.
Spalthoff, known in Milford for starting the year-end celebration Milford Celebrates and serving on a host of committees and organizations, such as the United Way, Milford Rotary, Boys & Girls Village advisory board and many more, received the GOP bid to run for mayor against incumbent Democrat Ben Blake. Spalthoff ran four years ago on the Independent ticket in a four-way race for mayor but lost to incumbent Republican James Richetelli Jr. Spalthoff switched back to the Republican Party shortly after that election.
While much is known of Spalthoff, he hasn’t often talked about his childhood, which Jagodzinski tapped into at Monday night’s convention.
Spalthoff’s campaign website fills in the blanks.
The Republican mayoral candidate was born the youngest of five children in Jamacia Plain, Mass., in 1945. His father worked as manager at a local A&P grocery store and his mother was at home with her children full time.
That all changed when Spalthoff was three and his father died. A few years later, his mother became bed-ridden with multiple sclerosis.
“Our family no longer had an income so our house was sold,” Spalthoff states on his website. “We moved into the projects to be with my grandmother, the new head of the household, with my mother bed-ridden. Living conditions were cramped, but I was too young to know the difference.”
While living in the projects, Spalthoff went to a YMCA-funded camp for several weeks. When he returned home, he found his mother had been taken to a convalescent home, and he was being taken to an orphanage.
“After [my sister] Susan told me what had happened to everyone she took me to the New England Home for Little Wanderers. No kidding, that was the name of the place. Although I smile looking back, it was at that moment that I became an orphan,” Spalthoff said.
But the young man prospered. He worked two jobs during school, entered the military and became a paratrooper; he was a Trumbull police officer and a successful small business owner, Jagodzinski said.
Others who spoke at Monday night’s GOP convention heaped praise on Spalthoff. Mark Lofthouse said Spalthoff is a man with vision.
“He is a strong visionary leader, and we need one now,” Lofthouse said.
Alderman Paula Smith said Spalthoff is a leader.
Susan Fontana, a retired New York City police officer, said Spalthoff has the management and business experience to the run the city.
Joseph DellaMonica Jr., a retired Milford police officer who was heralded just this past weekend for pulling a man from a burning car in New Jersey, also spoke up for Spalthoff.
“Peter cares,” DellaMonica said, recalling that when he was fighting in Desert Storm, Spalthoff would check on him and his family regularly. Spalthoff also posted pictures of people in the military in the front window of his downtown business. He called it the Window of Honor.
Taking the podium himself, Spalthoff said that if elected he will focus on retaining and helping to grow businesses in Milford.
“I will strive to make this city known as one that is open for business,” he said.
Spalthoff pledged to devote more attention and assets to seniors, youth and human services.
“When elected, I will commit to you that I will not use our rainy day funds in a manner that has been used to lower the city taxes, especially in election years like this one,” Spalthoff said. “Ben [Blake] said that he kept the tax increases low this year — but he didn’t tell you that it was partially done by transferring $5 million from the rainy day fund. This has been the largest transfer of money from the fund in the past eight years.”
Spalthoff said he will review previous department budget requests and make sure they weren’t denied funds they need.
In addition to nominating Spalthoff Monday night, the Republicans also backed Linda Stock to run for a third term as city clerk.
Her sister, Alderman Paula Smith, nominated her, and said she’s surprised, based on past election results, that the Democrats didn’t cross-endorse Stock.
Smith said Stock is a popular candidate because she has made the city clerk’s office more modern and user friendly. She said Stock is such a people person that residents say they still miss working with her in her former capacity in the city’s Planning and Zoning office.
Smith said she read through the promises that the Democrats made for the city clerk’s office if their party were to prevail in the November elections.
“Everything the Democrats said they would do — it’s already being done,” Smith said.
Party member Debbie Fellenbaum added, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” She said morale and efficiency are quite high in the city clerk’s office. “Let’s stick with Stock,” Fellenbaum said.
Stock praised her staff for helping modernize and make the city clerk’s office what it is. “They’re unbelievable,” she said.
Since taking office, Stock said she’s modernized and made many forms available on the city website, and she said she’s done as much of that work as possible using grants, to save the taxpayers money.
“I love being the city clerk,” Stock said. “Customer service in there has to be number one because there are hundreds of people in there all day.
“I’m going for my third term, and I hope I get it because it’s my job,” Stock added.
State Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola made a special appearance at the convention, and urged the GOP to try to win back the city. He blamed Democrats from President Barack Obama down to Milford’s own Mayor Blake for the country’s ills, and he said he thinks Milford’s Republican Party is on the comeback.
The following party members were nominated to run for city offices:
Running for the Board of Aldermen are Brian Bier and Anthony Giannattasio in the first district; Susan Fontana and Ward Willis in the second district; Paula Smith and Mike Casey in the third district; Dan German and Pat Tokarz in the fourth district; and Ray Vitali and Bill Bevan in the fifth district.
Running for the Board of Education are Mike DeGrego and John DeRosa in the first district; Joyce Charney and Doreen Fontana in the second district; Tom Jagodzinski and Anthony Piselli in the third district; Walter Cash and Heinz Stock in the fourth district, and Ray Kirmaier and Suzanne DeBiase in the fifth district.
Running for the Planning & Zoning Board are Tom Nichols in the first district; Ron Goldwyn in the second district; Ed Mead in the third district; Mark Bender in the fourth district and Bill Farrell in the fifth district.