New Milford First, the third political party in the town, has endorsed Democrat Robert Coppola for mayor.

Mr. Coppola will head a slate of New Milford First candidates that crosses party lines.

The party's July 29 caucus was attended by a small gathering of seven registered voters and seven New Milford First council members.

The weather was damp outside yet inside the railroad station hopes were high the voices of New Milford First party supporters would ultimately make a difference in town.

"The nominating committee interviewed both mayoral candidates from the major parties -- Republican Patricia Murphy and Democrat Robert Coppola," said Gerald Monaghan, co-founder of New Milford First and caucus chairman.

"The committee was impressed with both candidates," he reported, "and decided to bring a decision on endorsement to the caucus as a whole."

With a paper ballot, votes were cast with three votes coming in for the mayor and 11 votes for Mr. Coppola. The endorsement was made unanimous by acclamation.

Neither the GOP incumbent nor the Democratic challenger was present at the caucus.

"I am pleasantly surprised and happy to be endorsed by New Milford First," Mr. Coppola said Wednesday night.

"It is important to me that there are only two people running for mayor," he said. "I welcome their endorsement. A three-way race would make it very difficult for anyone running against an incumbent. I have also worked with a lot of the members of the New Milford First party in the past. They are people I have known for years."

New Milford First party member Norman Adler attended the caucus and encouraged others to vote for a mayoral candidate's endorsement before the vote.

"I think it's important to have a mayoral candidate at the top of our ticket," said Mr. Adler. "People generally come out to vote for the top of the ticket. Especially for a small party like ours, it is important for the candidates lower down on the ballot to present a strong, overall ticket."

Mr. Adler noted the mayor's position is that of CEO of the town and the party should show support for a candidate to fill that important role.

Some other candidates on the New Milford First ticket were chosen by the nominating committee "based on their records" in office to date, Mr. Monaghan said.

New Milford First was founded in 2005 by a cross section of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Members from all political parties in town are eligible to attend and vote at its caucus.

Candidates endorsed by New Milford First for November:

n Town Council: John Kane (NMF); Eileen Monaghan (NMF); Raymond O'Brien (R); Peter Mullen (D); Walter Bayer (D); Mary Jane Lundgren (D); and Anne Cutter (D);

n Board of Finance: Alexander Petersen (NMF); Frank Wargo (D); and Shelly Pruss (D);

n Board of Assessment Appeals: Oscar Rasmussen (D);

n Board of Education: Thomas McSherry (D); Amy Llerna (D); Dr. Lawrence Stillman (D);

n Planning Commission: Gerard Monaghan (NMF);

n Zoning Commission: Janice Vance (D) and Benjamin Grinnell (D);

n Zoning Board of Appeals: Martin Monteiro (R) and Terry Ellis (D).

Contact Susan Tuz

at stuz@newstimes.com

or 860-355-7322.