BRISTOL - â€śItâ€™s kind of unbelievable that at 66 someone comes to you and says did you ever think about running for City Council,â€ť said Dave Mills Tuesday night, on the occasion of his last council meeting.
â€śMost of the time if youâ€™re 66 you donâ€™t even think about running, but I said well it could be a challenge. It could be something I might enjoy doing. I was never involved in politics at all, when youâ€™re working as a teacher and coach, you donâ€™t have time for politics,â€ť he said.
â€śBut it was a great experience for me. Iâ€™m glad I got into it. Itâ€™s nice to go undefeated at something - to win four terms,â€ť he continued.
â€śI just want to thank everybody, itâ€™s been a great experience,â€ť he added.
â€śIt has been a pleasure serving with him over the last two years,â€ť said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. â€śWhenever he has been called upon to fill in to do whatever needs to be done he has been there. It has been just a great working relationship and weâ€™re definitely going to miss him on the council.â€ť
His fellow councilors echoed her comments.
â€śYouâ€™ve set the bar quite high insofar as political discourse is concerned and that is sorely needed in todayâ€™s political arena, and youâ€™re a trusted voice of reason,â€ť said Peter Kelley. â€śIâ€™m proud to have served with you and consider you a friend.â€ť
â€śIn coming on to City Council these last two years, one thing Iâ€™ve always appreciated about you, although we have disagreed on topics from time to time there was never a question you were always striving to put Bristol first,â€ť said Greg Hahn. â€śI appreciate the work and the leadership you gave to us and you will be sorely missed.â€ť
â€śDave, thank you for serving District 3,â€ť said Mary Fortier. â€śYouâ€™ve been just a gift to Bristol. Your service both in the sports world and here at City Council. You definitely represent what Bristol All Heart is and we will miss you.â€ť
Dave Preleski said Mills was one of the first people he talked to when he decided to run for council. â€śI canâ€™t believe it has been four years since weâ€™ve been sitting next to each other and weâ€™ve spent countless hours on committee work. There is no man with greater integrity than Mr. Mills, and itâ€™s been a pleasure, Dave,â€ť he added.
â€śSince Iâ€™ve come onto the council youâ€™ve been more than helpful to me in making me find my way in the ranks here,â€ť said Scott Rosado.
â€śDave Mills is the kind of person youâ€™re really proud to know and to work with,â€ť said Justin Malley, Bristol Development Authority executive director. â€śDave is a very calm, reassuring character, and sometimes working in City Hall is not calm or reassuring, so itâ€™s nice that itâ€™s very easy to work with someone like Dave who we know will support us and encourage us to do good things.â€ť
In addition to being a lifelong city resident, a retired football coach, and a grandfather, Mills has been the only Republican on the City Council this past term.
His experience includes a total of four council terms - two before his wife, JoAnne, passed away in 2013 and two afterwards. He has said he still misses her every minute of every day, but his four adult children and nine grandchildren are there to keep him busy.
Mills attended Southern Connecticut State University in the early 1960s and, by chance, ended up back in his hometown, teaching physical education at Bristol Eastern High School.
He was married a year later, in 1965. During their honeymoon, Easternâ€™s head football coach left. At 22 years old, Mills was offered the position, which he gladly accepted. He coached for the next 26 years, also coaching girls basketball some of that time. He didnâ€™t get into city government until after retiring in 2000.
Athletics is another defining feature of Millsâ€™ life. He follows the New York Yankees and the New England Patriots. Heâ€™s also a board member on the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame and spent 13 years as its president.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.