Bristol mayor staying on topic amid controversy

BRISTOL – While Bristol Mayor Ken Cockanye faces allegations of sexual harassment, he’s also in the middle of a campaign to keep his seat in November.

About 300 people showed up to a Chamber of Commerce sponsored debate Monday night at St. Paul Catholic High School.

First, 12 city council candidates took the stage answering a series of set questions, then both Republican Mayor Ken Cockayne and his opponent on the Democratic ticket, Ellen Zoppo-Sassu took the stage.

The candidates did not know the questions in advance and stuck to responding to questions asked by the moderator, addressing topics including economic development, jobs, taxes, and tackling the opioid crisis.

“I think my skill set is positioned to get us to that next level in this very challenging economic climate,” Zoppo-Sassau told FOX61.

When FOX61 approached Mayor Cockanye he declined to comment on the debate or the allegations.

“I think that this day and age it’s a zero tolerance,” Zoppo-Sassau said. “As a mother, as a sister, as a friend and as someone whose raising a daughter I think that this is a toxic environment for Bristol and they have the opportunity to fix it on November 7.”

Just last week, Bristol city council censured Mayor Cockanye.

The decision was made following an investigation into his behavior initiated by council and put together by an independent investigator.

The report said Mayor Cockayne showed compromising photos of a town council member and her husband to another town council member in retaliation for editorial decisions on a local internet radio station.

In a letter from his attorney, Cockayne said, "The mayor disputes, in the strongest terms, the conclusion of the report." He said there were factual inaccuracies, unfounded inferences, baseless conclusions of law, and is clearly punctuated with the personal biases of the investigator throughout.

The mayor is already facing a lawsuit of sexual harassment filed by the town’s legal secretary over the summer.