Mayoral hopeful Peter Spalthoff officially kicked off his campaign downtown last Wednesday with a celebration at Lisman Landing.

Spalthoff pledged to use his years of business experience to help grow Milford’s business base.

A former Republican Town Committee chairman and one-time mayoral candidate, Spalthoff hopes to get the GOP nomination to run for mayor at its July 22 convention. Democrats have said they will back incumbent Mayor Ben Blake for another run. The party will hold its convention this week.

Spalthoff has been involved in community initiatives, such as the United Way and as founder of Milford Celebrates, a Near Year’s Eve event downtown, since stepping out of the political limelight.

He also is a retired businessman, having owned Shoreline Mortgage in Milford Center, in a building in which he now lives with his wife, Susan.

Spalthoff ran for mayor as an independent candidate in 2009, but lost to then incumbent Republican James Richetelli Jr. in a four-way mayoral race.

Spalthoff said he is going back to his roots with this campaign.

“Eighteen years ago my wife Susan and I married and we looked at all of the cities up and down the shore to determine where we were going to live,” Spalthoff said. “It didn’t take long for us to make a decision.

“We fell in love with Milford — its diverse communities — its government structure — its shoreline — its beaches — and above all its people,” he said.

Spalthoff said his life experience will help him grow Milford. He said he has significant business experience as well as considerable community service.

“Milford needs a mayor that has business experience and will focus on growing our business base,” he told supporters at Lisman Landing. “As your mayor, I will do whatever is necessary to make Milford ‘open for business’.”

“Milford needs a mayor that will not sugar coat finances by raiding the “rainy day fund” on election years to mask an underlying tax increase,” Spalthoff said. “Milford needs a mayor that will not cut budgets on the backs of the elderly or our children. Milford needs a mayor that will put the interests of its residents first and not that of special interest groups; nor one that makes back room deals.”

Blake announced in May that he will seek another term.

Nearly two years ago, the Democrat replaced former Mayor James Richetelli Jr., a longtime Republican mayor who took a job working for the city’s school system.

Blake said he thinks his administration accomplished a lot since he was elected mayor, from overseeing recovery efforts after two major storms to creating efficiencies in city government and finding new streams of revenue.

“I’m thankful, proud and honored” to have been mayor, Blake said.

“There’s much, much more to do,” he added.

Blake has had more than the typical city challenges to face, most notably a series of severe storms.

A lifelong resident who graduated from Milford schools before going on to become a lawyer, Blake said he knows the schools, the harbor, the people.

“And after two years being mayor, I know this city inside and out,” Blake said.

He talked about the city coming together after Hurricane Sandy and winter storm Nemo, when neighbors helped neighbors to salvage, rebuild and shovel snow.

“That’s what I’m most proud of,” he said.