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

Coppola will head a slate of candidates that crosses party lines.

The New Milford First caucus Wednesday was a small gathering -- seven registered voters and seven New Milford First council members.

The weather was damp outside, but in the Clifford Chapin Railroad Station hopes were high that New Milford First Party supporters will 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 and decided to bring a decision on endorsement to the caucus as a whole."

Votes were cast with paper ballots, with Murphy getting three votes and Coppola getting 11. The endorsement was made unanimous by acclamation.

Neither incumbent mayor Murphy nor Coppola was present at the caucus.

"I am pleasantly surprised and happy to be endorsed by New Milford First," Coppola said Wednesday night. "I was interviewed by their nominating committee on Monday.

"It is important to me that there are only two people running for mayor. 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 member Norman Adler attended the caucus and encouraged others to endorse a mayoral candidate.

"I think it's important to have a mayoral candidate at the top of our ticket," said 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."

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

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

Board of Finance candidates are: Alexander Peterson (NMF), Frank Wargo (D) and Shelly Pruss (D).

Board of Assessment Appeals: Oscar Rasmussen (D).

Board of Education: Thomas McSherry (D), Amy Llerna (D), Lawrence Stillman (D).

Planning Commission: Gerard Monaghan (NMF).

Zoning Commission: Janice Vance (D) and Benjamin Grinnell (D).

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

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

Contact Susan Tuz

at stuz@newstimes.com

or 860-355-7322